NO CUDDLING, NO BREAST FEEDING, NO BONDING, NO KIDDING
Edgar J. Steele
MISSOULA, MONTANA - First, they
took her three young girls on an anonymous and unverifiable phone
call that one looked kind of sick. Then they moved heaven
and earth, trying desperately to take the baby she bore a month
later, though it was several states out of their jurisdiction.
Then they had her arrested and thrown in a Montana jail for "kidnapping"
her own children. Now, she is about to give birth to her fifth
child and they are trying to snatch it, too, after which they want
to lock her and her husband away in prison for a long, long time.
Pretty serious stuff. Must
be a modern Bonnie and Clyde. "How many people have they
killed?" would be a logical question. Well....none, actually.
Ruth Christine whiles away
her time in a Missoula, Montana jail, while Oregon officials move
to have her extradited to stand trial on charges that she helped
to kidnap her own children. Ruth is counting the days until
delivery of her next child, too - anytime during the next couple
Oregon's Services to Children
and Families (SCF) has had its counterpart in Montana, Child Protection
Services (CPS), pay a call on Ruth and her doctor yesterday.
Nobody is to be allowed into the delivery room except their people.
Immediately upon birth, the baby is to be taken from Ruth and handed
over to Oregon. No cuddling. No breast feeding.
No bonding. No kidding.
Edgar J. Steele, an attorney based in Northern Idaho, with offices in California, has agreed to take the lead in representing Ruth and Brian Christine in what has become a modern-day David and Goliath story of citizens against a government seemingly out of control.
"They just refused to
play ball," said Steele from his office in Sandpoint, Idaho.
"They must have seemed like easy marks, apparent itinerants
living in a bus with their three little girls, parked not far from
the public library in Grants Pass, Oregon."
Ruth and Brian had chosen to
spend a few years traveling with their young family and earning
a modest income from his internet-based business dealings.
He would use public-access terminals, like those found in public
libraries, to conduct business.
By the end of the day, Brian
had been hauled off and booked for "child endangerment,"
the three girls taken by armed deputies to a foster home and Ruth
left dazed, penniless and 8 months pregnant, alone and confused
in the converted bus which had served as the family home for the
past two years.
Once Brian was released, he
and Ruth chose to fight the legal system on their own, spurning
the offer of a county-paid public defender. They did all the
wrong things, according to the system, just as people often do when
they dare to represent themselves in a courtroom. They didn't
realize the stakes that were involved. They believed that
eventually truth would find a way and they would get their children
back. They were wrong.
Along the way, Ruth traveled
home to Indiana to have her baby. She eventually left baby
Olivia behind with her mother and returned to Oregon to help Brian
in the struggle to regain custody of their three little girls.
want Olivia, too," said the Oregon officials, and began a marathon
court proceeding designed to have the baby taken from its grandmother,
who had been appointed its legal guardian, and brought to Oregon
to be placed with a foster home. Only three days ago, the
Indiana judge that had become embroiled in the struggle laid down
the law: Indiana refuses to allow Oregon to have baby Olivia.
About a month ago, Oregon made
it clear to Ruth and Brian that they were never to see their children
again, as they were about to be adopted out. Desperate, the couple
allegedly plotted to take their girls and run away. They were tracked
down in Montana, turned in by those they considered friends.
While Ruth sits in a Missoula jail, Brian awaits extradition to
Oregon from his cell in Billings, on the other side of the state,
destined to stand trial on a host of criminal charges stemming from
the alleged "kidnapping."
Meanwhile, though the couple's
newest baby is about to be born in Montana, Oregon has convinced
Montana authorities to seize that child upon birth and transport
it to Oregon to be adopted out with the three older Christine girls.
Steele pledges that the baby
will not be taken without a legal struggle. "Nor will the three
older girls be adopted out to strangers without a pitched battle
of epic proportions," said Steele. "This case represents
the modern trend of Big Brother come to life in America. We
have to stop it here or there will never be any stopping government
from taking anybody's child for any reason."
"The criminal charges
will be the toughest," said Steele. Though the Christines'
alleged acts were born of desperation about never seeing their little
girls again, the system just won't allow that as a justification.
In a very real sense, the system drove them crazy, and now it wants
to lock them up for doing the very things it is itself guilty of
having driven them to do. This isn't right and I hope that
we can get a jury that sees things that way. Meanwhile, we
have our work cut out, just keeping the kids from being placed permanently
out of reach while we deal with the criminal charges."
While Steele is providing his legal services pro bono (for free), he notes that there will be considerable costs to expended in the Christines' defense, nonetheless, and asks that donations be directed to the Christine Defense Fund, PO Box 1255, Sagle, Idaho 83860. Donations can be made via credit card over the Internet by logging on to www.PayPal.com and directing donations to firstname.lastname@example.org , with a notation for the Christine Defense Fund.
� 2001 Edgar Steel - All Rights Reserved
Fourth Ave., Suite C
"Nobody is to be allowed into the delivery room except their people. Immediately upon birth, the baby is to be taken from Ruth and handed over to Oregon. No cuddling. No breast feeding. No bonding. No kidding."