Charges filed after child taken from Waverly school

Friday, November 14, 2003

A custody dispute has led to the filing of abduction and assault charges against a California, Mo., woman.

Page Bellamy, Lafayette County prosecuting attorney, announced Thursday evening that he had filed an indictment charging 27-year-old Francesca V. Roberson with class D felony assault while on school property and class A misdemeanor interference with custody.

The charges stem from an incident Wednesday when Roberson, a non-custodial parent, took her child from Santa Fe R-10 Elementary School in Waverly.

According to court documents, Roberson entered the school and presented administrators with what she said was a court order from the Cole County Circuit Court. Roberson claimed the order gave her custody of the child, but school officials decided to contact the child's family and law enforcement officers.

Roberson then allegedly took the child by force, pushing a teacher who tried to stop her. In the school parking lot, the teacher reached through the window of Roberson's car in an attempt to reach the child. Roberson told the driver of the car to drive away, and the teacher was thrown from the vehicle.

Court documents show the teacher's foot was run over during the incident and she also suffered injuries to her leg and nose.

The child was recovered by authorities but additional information was unavailable at press time.

Bellamy said this case highlights "the unfortunate language of the statute" dealing with visitation and child custody.

"Under state law it is a felony if a custodial parent interferes with the visitation rights of a non-custodial parent," he said. "However, it is only a misdemeanor if a non-custodial parent interferes with the rights of the custodial parent. This is a ridiculous and shameful juxtaposition the legislature has created."

At press time, Roberson was free on bond. Information on her next scheduled court appearance was not immediately available.

Contact Chris Post at

marshallhealth@socket.net

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