An Indianapolis Mother’s Search for Justice…Good Luck!
From the Indianapolis Recorder:
A mother’s journey for justice
By BRANDON A. PERRY
Published: Thursday, February 5, 2009 4:09 PM CST
Following a recent hearing inside a Marion County paternity court, Tracie Nelson learned that things would not change anytime soon: Her daughter still won’t be coming home.
While leaving the court chamber with her attorney, Nelson appears frustrated and sad.
“I’m so tired, I don’t know what else to do,” Nelson says with tears in her eyes as she is embraced by her mother, Minnie Blaylock.
Nelson has learned that an ex-boyfriend will retain custody of her seven-year-old daughter, Kay. An ugly custody battle involving allegations of molestation and mental illness continues.
However, as the two discuss the case with attorney Dana Childress-Jones, Nelson recovers her strength, recognizing that she can’t give up even if the odds seemed stacked against her.
“If I do not fight for Kay, who will?” said Nelson.
When most Americans find themselves involved in the court system, they expect justice to be administered based on the law and compassion.
Nelson, however, says she and Kay have not received anything resembling justice.
According to Nelson, biased judges and attorneys have refused to remove Kay from the father’s home, despite serious allegations of abuse in that household. Nelson, who raised Kay for the first six years of her life, believes custody should be returned to her or to Blaylock, Kay’s maternal grandmother.
“Right now all we’re asking is for someone to stand up and do what’s in the best interest of Kay,” said Blaylock. “She’s a wonderful child, and deserves to be in an environment where she is safe and cared for with love.”
Nelson wants to share Kay’s case with the community because, she stated, she’s not only fighting for her daughter, but hopes to provide a testimony to help parents who find themselves in similar situations.
In May, 2001, Kay was born to Tracie Nelson and ex-boyfriend Billy Dupree (Dupree refused to speak with the Recorder regarding the case). From Kay’s birth Nelson had sole legal custody of her. Although the relationship between Nelson and Dupree ended, Nelson said she understood the importance of a father’s presence in a child’s life and encouraged Dupree to visit Kay.
In September 2004, Kay began exhibiting unexplained sexual behavior, which a nurse at Community North Hospital later stated was very unusual for a girl her age. This puzzled Nelson because she knew her daughter had no reason to be with any man other than her father, who occasionally had Kay at his home for overnight visitations.
In written documents submitted in court, Nelson said Dupree “was very guarded when I spoke with him about these concerns, and told me if I kept looking I would find what I was ‘looking for.’”
Family members wanted Nelson to contact child authorities immediately to investigate Dupree, but Nelson said she urged caution, wanting to give Dupree a chance to defend himself and help in discovering if anyone did molest Kay.
Nelson took Kay to a therapist, and expressed her concerns to paternity court Judge Alicia Gooden, who suspended Dupree’s overnight visitations. Then, for the first time, Dupree expressed an interest in having custody of Kay.
According to Nelson, Kay later told a forensic investigator, child psychologist and police detective that Dupree had touched her inappropriately, and that Dupree’s stepson had been “playing house” on her.
An employee for the Marion County Prosecutor’s office, who has to remain anonymous, believes Kay’s story is legitimate, but could not take action due to the custody dispute.
In August 2007, following a hearing, Gooden granted custody of Kay to Dupree.
Nelson believes Gooden’s decision was based on a conflict of interest.
She said Kim Bacon, Dupree’s attorney, was given preferential treatment during the hearing because she is a pro temp judge in Gooden’s paternity court. She also claims that Bacon’s boyfriend is Dupree’s best friend. Nelson says she has been a target ever since she filed a complaint against Bacon with the Indiana Bar Association.
“The judge’s decision was based, not on the best interest of Kay, but on Gooden’s bias against me and her relationship with Bacon,” said Nelson.
Bacon and Dupree have declined to talk publicly. When contacted by the Recorder to get Dupree’s version of events, Bacon firmly ruled out a discussion about the case.
“What we’re seeing right now is a situation where the private business of a seven-year-old girl is being dragged out into the public, and that’s not right,” Bacon said. “Neither my client nor I will be a part of that. We decline to comment.”
According to court records, Dupree has strongly denied any allegations of abuse, and he and Bacon assert that Nelson is mentally and financially unstable. They also believe that Nelson has coached Kay into saying certain things to bolster her case.
Nelson’s attorney, Childress-Jones, requested a change of judge, and Kay’s case was passed to Judge Gary Miller. Nelson alleges that Miller appeared to be fair at first, but after speaking with Gooden and Bacon, has refused to grant even temporary custody to Nelson, despite the investigation into alleged abuse.
To date, Nelson has only occasional supervised visits with Kay that she must pay for, and Kay is not allowed to keep gifts or other items.
Nelson says she has had several attorneys helping her, simply because they get hopeless after a short time working on her case. Shortly after Nelson lost custody of Kay, one former attorney, Dylan Vigh, stated on WTLC-AM (1310) “Afternoons with Amos” show that her case was “by far” one of the “greatest injustices” he has ever seen, and that Nelson has been “railroaded” in the courtroom.
Still, Nelson says she is not surrendering the fight to get Kay back home. She is seeking to move her case to the court of a third judge with no connections to Gooden. She is also seeking removal of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), a representative appointed to serve as a nonbiased guardian of a child in a custody dispute. Nelson says the GAL has not acted in Kay’s best interest.
“I have a divine right, as Kay’s mother, to protect her,” Nelson said. “All I’m trying to do is get her life back to normal and keep her safe.”
Coming in Part 2: A closer look into the case.
Note: Kay is not the child’s real name. The Recorder does not publish names of minors involved in pending legal cases.
Tracie dear, if you see this, get ahold of us. We’ve got some ideas here to work on with you that may help.