SALEM — A Florida man is facing charges of parental kidnapping after police say he involved his parents in a plot to take his two children from their mother in Salem last month.
But a lawyer for Richard Guillen says it’s the children’s mother who absconded with them last fall and that he had every right to bring them back to Florida.
“What has happened to my client and what has been done to him is nothing short of outrageous,” said Guillen’s attorney, David Yannetti, during Guillen’s arraignment Thursday in Salem District Court.
Guillen, 26, of Greenacres, Florida, pleaded not guilty to two counts of parental kidnapping.
Still, Salem District Court Judge Emily Karstetter said she found it “troubling” that rather than go through the proper legal process, Guillen allegedly came up with a ruse, involving his parents, to spirit the kids out of Massachusetts. She ordered Guillen held on $5,000 bail.
Prosecutor Erin Bellavia said the children’s mother contacted Salem police on May 18, two days after Guillen’s parents showed up unexpectedly at her home and asked to see the children, 3 and 4.
She agreed. But when they did not return and avoided her texts and phone calls, she grew concerned.
Late on the afternoon of May 18, the woman received a text message from Guillen’s mother admitting that he was with the children and that she wasn’t supposed to tell her, Bellavia said.
Police searched several area hotels, and called Guillen’s phone. Around 8 p.m., he returned the call, telling police he had the children, was taking them back to Florida and did not care if he faced charges because he had his children.
He also said he had not been allowed to speak to his kids more than twice since their mother took them to Massachusetts last November.
Police then asked Guillen’s cell phone provider to send a signal to his phone that would help police locate him.
He was found at a movie theater in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania with the children, who were unharmed.
Guillen was brought back to Massachusetts to answer to the charges in court on Thursday.
Bellavia had urged the judge to impose a $25,000 bail, citing Guillen’s lack of ties to the state and his “brazen” statements about not caring if police had a warrant.
The woman told police that she had moved the children to Massachusetts to escape what she said was an abusive relationship, an allegation Guillen denied.
Yannetti said there are no complaints to anyone in Florida of domestic abuse, and said that after the couple split up, they remained amicable, trading time with the children. Guillen was left as sole caretaker of the pair for two weeks last October, he said.
In January, Guillen filed a petition for custody in the Florida courts, Yannetti said.
He also cited case law, established in the case of a missing Lynn boy, Giovanni Gonzalez, who disappeared during a visit to his father Ernesto Gonzalez’s apartment in August, 2008. A parental kidnapping charge was dismissed in that case on the grounds that as a parent, Gonzalez had the right to see his son because there was no court order barring it.
If Guillen makes bail, he will have to obey a restraining order barring him from contact with the children or their mother. A pretrial conference is scheduled for June 29.
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