Chief Says Tribe Used Every Legal Avenue To Keep 'Baby Veronica' In Oklahoma

Wednesday, September 25th 2013, 3:59 pm
By: News On 6

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker says the nation "did everything possible" to stop a 4-year-old Cherokee girl from being transferred to her adoptive parents in South Carolina.

Baker released a statement Wednesday about the custody transfer of 4-year-old Veronica. The Cherokee Nation and Veronica's biological father, tribal member Dusten Brown, had been fighting with the toddler's adoptive parents to keep Veronica in Oklahoma.

On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted a stay keeping the girl in Oklahoma and Brown handed her to Matt and Melanie Capobianco shortly afterward. Brown had been in a dispute with the Capobianco of South Carolina, for years. But on Monday, Brown handed Veronica over to them.

Baker says the Nation used every legal avenue available to keep Veronica with her biological father. The chief says the girl is always welcome in the Cherokee Nation.

Special Coverage: 'Baby Veronica' Case

Earlier in the day after news of the child's transfer, a spokesman for Mary Fallin said the Oklahoma governor is trying to persuade South Carolina to drop an extradition order against Brown.

Brown was charged with custodial interference in South Carolina in August after he failed to show up to a family court meeting with Veronica or send a proxy in his place. He's due in court in Oklahoma next week to face extradition to South Carolina.

Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin, said the governor hopes that Brown will not have to go to South Carolina and that the charge will be dropped.

The Capobiancos were present at Veronica's birth and raised her for two years. The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered them to turn her over to Brown in January 2011, citing ICWA. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision and said Brown was not entitled to custody of the child based on ICWA. South Carolina then finalized the adoption, and a final plea by Brown to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.

Veronica's adoption was finalized in South Carolina on July 31 and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling on Aug. 2.

Brown and the Capobiancos have been battling in Oklahoma courts and tribal courts since Brown failed to transfer custody of the child back to the couple after the adoption was final.

Multiple sources told News On 6 there was a closed hearing Wednesday in South Carolina, where the court discussed whether it would force Brown to pay the Capobiancos' legal bills incurred in Oklahoma. We're told no one can discuss the specifics of the case -- including the amount Brown could pay and/or fines -- until the case is wrapped up at a later date.

Brown is still fighting for visitation rights.