Uresti files bill targeting false information in international child custody cases
Spurred by the parental abduction case of 11-year-old Jean Paul Lacombe, state Sen. Carlos Uresti on Thursday filed legislation that would make it a felony to provide false statements regarding a child's custody status.
Based on false information given to a judge by the boy's father, Jean Philippe Lacombe, Jean Paul was pulled off a school bus by Bexar County deputy constables in October 2009 and handed over to his father.
According to news reports, Lacombe had presented Mexican divorce documents to San Antonio state District Judge Sol Casseb and accused his ex-wife of kidnapping Jean Paul from Mexico. The documents were later determined to be outdated and misleading.
Based on those documents, Casseb granted Lacombe emergency custody and ordered him to return to court for a follow-up hearing. But Lacombe, a Mexican and French citizen, left the country with Jean Paul. Lacombe was later indicted in Bexar County on kidnapping and perjury charges; Jean Paul has since been returned to his mother.
"Mr. Lacombe would not have been granted custody if the court had been privy to all the facts," Uresti said. "This bill will impose a high price on anyone who provides false information on a child's custody status."
The Bexar County District Attorney's Office approached Sen. Uresti to file legislation addressing the issue. Senate Bill 1490 will make it a third degree felony to knowingly make a false statement regarding child custody determinations during a court hearing.
The measure will also require that a record be made of all proceedings and hearings when implementing applicable provisions of the Family Code for international child custody cases, and change the warrant process for taking physical custody of a child.
If law enforcement took custody on grounds that the child is in imminent threat of serious physical harm or is likely to be removed from the state, the child would have to be delivered to the Department of Family and Protective Services instead of the parent.
Senator Uresti represents Senate District 19, a 55,000 square mile area extending from the city of San Antonio in Bexar County to the Lower Valley of El Paso Count. The largest legislative district in the nation, it spans two time zones and contains nine of the 14 border counties in Texas.