The biological father of a 3-year-old child caught in a high-profile custody case filed for a stay and a rehearing Monday after South Carolina's Supreme Court ordered his parental rights be stripped last week, his lawyers have confirmed.
Nowata County native Dusten Brown attorneys reportedly petitioned for the rehearing shortly before 5 p.m. Brown, who has yet to give over custody of "Baby Veronica," had until Monday to complete the filing.
RELATED: S.C. court orders 'Baby Veronica' back to adoptive parents (http://bit.ly/VeronicaSCruling)
If a stay is granted, the move could potentially halt a transfer of custody from Brown to Matt and Melanie Capabianco, the South Carolina couple who acted as the child's adoptive parents until 2011.
RELATED: Father, grandparents file for Baby Veronica adoption (http://bit.ly/12W9ETn)
Veronica's birth mother, Christy Maldonado, who formed a relationship with the Capabiancos through an adoption agency while still pregnant, has been very open about her desire for her biological child to grow up with the couple. Monday, Maldonado released the following statement:
I have been told about today's filings in the SC Supreme Court, and I am deeply saddened to see continued legal wrangling in this case that continues to distort critical facts, and ironically has for the first time appealed to Veronica's "best interests" in an attempt to unlawfully hold on to a little girl who has been separated from her parents for 18 months. She was separated from her family – with no transition whatsoever – and Mr. Brown's and the Cherokee Nation's lawyers argued repeatedly that her 27 months with the people who raised her from birth were totally irrelevant because of an accident of her father's heritage. If only Veronica's best interests had been paramount from the beginning of this case, she would still be thriving in Matt and Melanie's home. That is not debatable--and I think it is shameful that the very folks who mocked me, and mocked Veronica's court-appointed guardian, when we begged the US Supreme Court to please protect Veronica's rights, are now trying to hold onto her unlawfully and invoking those same arguments—all while continuing to deny Matt and Melanie, and me, any contact with Veronica. Enough is enough. It is time for everyone in Oklahoma to sit down and act like adults and figure out the best way to transition Veronica back to her home on James Island.
The Cherokee Nation also filed a petition for rehearing Monday, and stated the South Carolina Supreme Court was "unaware of facts" and overlooked the best interests of Veronica.
"It is very troubling that the South Carolina Supreme Court would move to terminate the parental rights of a man who has proven to be nothing but a fit and loving father, without even holding a hearing to determine what is in his own child's best interests," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "What is best for Veronica has not even been considered by the court. We pray the South Carolina Supreme Court grants our request for a due process hearing to determine what is in this child's best interests."
Several other Native American groups -- The Native American Rights Fund, National Congress of American Indians and National Indian Child Welfare Association -- backed Brown, a Cherokee Indian, Monday, and threatened to sue over last week's decision.