January 7, 2016
A mother trying to protect her daughter, a father trying to see his and one little girl living without either parent. The year-long saga will return to a Napa courtroom early in 2016.
It’s been almost a year since Anna Nepomuceno-Faust was arrested on suspicion of child abduction for taking her daughter to the Philippines and refusing a court order to return her to her father, who is supposed to have custody. The girl’s whereabouts remain unknown.
The charges were later amended by the District Attorney’s Office to include kidnapping.
Nepomuceno was back in court this week with her lawyer, former deputy public defender Stacy Barrett, to argue that prosecutors lack sufficient evidence and have pursued the case in a vindictive manner.
Judge Michael S. Williams will consider the lawyer’s motions on Jan. 26, with a possible trial set for Feb. 22.
In 2013, Jeremy Faust, the child’s father, was ordered out of the home he shared with his then- wife, Nepomuceno, in American Canyon.
Nepomuceno alleges that Faust had inappropriately touched their 5-year-old daughter as well as her teenage daughter from another relationship, according to court documents. A temporary restraining order was granted, and then a permanent one via Napa County Superior Court.
Nepomuceno had full custody of their daughter and Faust was granted supervised visitation only, said Stacy Barrett, Nepomuceno’s defense attorney and former deputy public defender.
Barrett said that Nepomuceno traveled with child to the Philippines to visit her father who was ill. Faust said that he was informed by Nepomuceno that they were in the Philippines in July 2014.
While in the Philippines, Nepomuceno’s family law lawyer withdrew from the case and Faust had the restraining order against him amended eliminating their daughter as a protected person. That was in December 2014, according to court documents. Their marriage was dissolved that same month.
Faust was then granted full custody of the child, Barrett said.
But when Nepomuceno returned to the U.S. last February, she was arrested in San Francisco by the Department of Homeland Security. Although she had the child’s passport, she did not have the child, according to court documents. She was remanded for contempt in August 2015 for failing to comply with court order’s to return the child to Faust.
She decided that she would rather go to jail than to return her daughter to “the man who had molested her,” Barrett told the court.
In court, Faust admitted to massaging Nepomuceno’s older daughter, but only on her shoulder and neck areas and only after she had a fight with her mom, after came home from school or after she participated in a sporting event. He is a physical therapist and said that he only tried to help her with sore muscles and with trying to relax, according to court documents.
After 61 days in jail, Nepomuceno was released because it was not having the coercive effect it was intended for, her lawyer said.
Deputy District Attorney Holly Quate said that the daughter is “still not home” and is presumably still in the Philippines, where a restraining order remains against Faust. The girl, now 8 years old, is unable to travel without the permission of a recognized parent. Only Nepomuceno knows where the daughter is, Quate said.
It’s more complicated than that, Barrett has asserted. Nepomuceno is worried about what will happen to her daughter if she is returned, she says, and is restricted by the orders made in the Philippines. “We’re dealing with international law.”
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