Baby Veronica’s Father Accused of ‘Custodial Interference’ Felony

Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network

After Dusten Brown was charged last Monday in a Charleston, South Carolina courtroom with failing to appear on Sunday for a scheduled four-hour visitation to begin his daughter Veronica’s transition to the Capobianco’s, he was ordered to “immediately” transfer the child to the couple’s custody. Monday’s order negated the proposed plan and demanded that Veronica be brought to South Carolina with no transition.

But Brown has been in Iowa with his Oklahoma National Guard unit for a mandatory training that had been on the books since January. This was known to all parties in the dispute, including Judge Daniel Martin, who issued the order.

“They absolutely knew where this man was and that he had no physical or legal way of being present for the transition visitation with his daughter,” says a source familiar with the case. “This whole canard that he somehow flouted the law is just absurd. [Monday’s order] was nothing more than posturing and intimidation, because weren’t these the very same people who had originally proposed that they would moved to Oklahoma to ease her transition? What happened to that? How did they go from moving to Oklahoma to demanding that he magically show up in South Carolina within 48 hours of the finalization of the adoption when they know he was not even in Oklahoma? As usual, they painted him with the broad stroke that he broke the law. He did not.”

As rhetoric on both sides heated up throughout the week during appearances on multiple media outlets, it became apparent to those watching the case that the Capobiancos and their legal team were prepared to enforce the judge’s order by any means necessary—even if it meant sending Veronica’s biological father to jail.

Equally, it became apparent that Dusten Brown was prepared to dig in his heels to continue his battle to seek justice in what many are calling an “unethical adoption” in which his infant daughter should never have been taken to South Carolina in the first place.

Friday evening, doubling down on their threat to seek intervention by law enforcement, the Capobiancos pressed criminal charges against Brown in South Carolina for “custodial interference.” The felony warrant carries a five year sentence and fines at the discretion of the court.

Attorneys for the Capobiancos said that the arrest was “necessary to ensure the rule of law.” They also said that officials for the Cherokee Nation and anyone refusing to divulge Veronica’s whereabouts would be “actively assisting in an ongoing felony.”

The Cherokee Nation declined to comment on the Capobiancos’ statement.

Authorities in South Carolina had been working with Polk County, Iowa authorities, who have jurisdiction over the civilian communities surrounding Camp Dodge, to arrest Brown on Sunday morning.

But that didn’t happen.

On Saturday, the Oklahoma National Guard granted Brown emergency leave so that he could attend an emergency hearing in Cherokee Nation Tribal Court on Monday without having to go absent without leave, thereby further endangering his military career. Brown and wife, Robin, then returned to Oklahoma.

“This is a purely civil criminal matter,” Colonel Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, said in a brief statement. “Our job was to facilitate communication with the local authorities.”

The exact Oklahoma whereabouts of the Browns, Veronica and their extended family is unknown. The Cherokee Nation had no comment.