Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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BethMarie Retamozzo protests against the state Department of Health and Human Services in Skowhegan on Aug. 31, 2012. Retamozzo, accused of abducting her children during a supervised visit on Thursday and captured in South Carolina on Saturday, was most recently judged unable to care for her children on Aug. 8 by probate Judge John Alsop, who wrote, "A child is at risk when his or her parent fails to recognize danger, denies obvious facts, lies to the court appointed guardian and is also willing to lie in court."
Staff file photo by David Leaming
Joel and Joslyn Retamozzo
Retamozzo, who has been charged with two counts of criminal restraint by a parent, a class C felony, is being held at the Colleton County Detention Center in Walterboro, S.C., according to Bridget Wyant, spokeswoman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Her children, who were found by South Carolina Highway Patrol officers at 10:15 p.m. Saturday sleeping in their mother's van at a rest stop off Interstate 95's southbound lanes, were reported to be safe, according to Massey.
Burke said there are a number of challenges to appointing supervisors in custody cases, regardless of whether the children may be considered in "jeopardy," a term that refers to concerns about the welfare of the children. Overall, he said, the court system is overwhelmed with cases similar to the Retamozzos' and doesn't have enough people, money, time or other resources to handle the specifics of supervision.
The problem is not just legal, but social, he said. Burke said the court almost never appoints someone, but rather the two parties involved select someone they agree upon to supervise the visits.
"There are problems in highly conflicted family matters where a supervisor is needed, but the problem is that there is nothing in place to provide that supervisor," Burke said.
There are no criteria or screening processes for the person who supervises the visits, although some nonprofit groups work to provide such people, Burke said.
He said the system operates under the assumption that people will behave maturely, but sometimes that doesn't happen.
There is also no simple definition of "supervision," Burke said. It is not unheard of for a parent to drive the children to or from the area where they will be supervised, he said.
"What works in one circumstance might not work in another," he said.
Hilton said the last few months have been distressing for BethMarie Retamozzo, who has five other children, including a 2-year-old daughter of whom she has legal custody, and that her attempts to regain the custody of Josyln and Joel have been long and drawn-out.
"It has been an incredibly distressing situation for her, especially since she could have her baby but not the other two children," Hilton said.
Annalee Bloom, an attorney appointed by the state to represent the interests of Joslyn and Joel Retamozzo in court, said she had no comment on the situation.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
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