I am reaching out to organizations throughout Ohio and across the
nation whose focus is stopping rape and injustices to women who
protect their children was sex offenders to orchestrate a rally for
support of a young mother and child. The mother is currently jailed
(now for over 68 days) for protecting her child when the system
failed; physical and sexual abuse. She desperately needs your help and
support. Time is running out. If the child is found she will be turned
over to her father. Please see below and let me know if you can be of
assistance and/or know of others who can.
A young mother is currently in jail for protecting her 5 year old
daughter because the justice system won’t. Ms. Cherish Lewis was found
in contempt of court on July 24, 2009 by Domestic Relations Court
Judge Frederick Crow for not turning over her daughter to the child’s
father. Judge Crow ordered that Ms. Lewis remain in jail until she
turns over her child. Ms. Lewis is not telling anyone the location of
her child and has now been in the Scioto County Jail in Portsmouth
Ohio for over 67 days.
On November 2, 2007, after a visitation with her father, Stephen Rice,
for several months in Tampa Florida, the child was returned to her
mother. Upon return of the child at the court house the mother noticed
bruising on the child’s face, behind her ear, numerous bruises on her
back & buttocks, and finger print bruising on her wrist. The mother
immediately took her child to the emergency room. The child disclosed
that her father had hurt her with something red. The child then
disclosed sexual abuse. After further exam the child had an abscess on
her rectum, secretion from her rectum, and a swollen red vagina and
hand print bruising on her thighs according to testimony from the
detective and children’s services.
In February 2008, after reviewing medical reports, hearing testimony
from medical professionals, testimony from children’s services, and
testimony from law enforcement stating that the injuries were from
human contact and the child disclosing both physical and sexual abuse
the Domestic Relations Court, Judge Crow, granted Rice custody and
allowed Rice to take the child again for several months, this time to
Rice’s new residence in Oceanside California.
In June of 2008 the child was returned to her mother. This time upon
return the child complained that it burned when she peed. Ms. Lewis
immediately took her child to the doctor and the child again disclosed
sexual abuse and was sent to Children’s Hospital for evaluation. The
child stated that her father “rubs her privacies” and demonstrated how
it was done. Children’s Services substantiated sexual abuse naming the
father as the alleged perpetrator and recommended that the child be
separated from Rice until the investigation was concluded by law
enforcement. Children’s Services also recommended the father take a
lie detector test.
In addition, on May 15, 2007 Judge Crow heard testimony from Rice’s
mother stating that Rice had an attorney because of allegations of
sexually abusing another 4 year old child when he was a minor. The
sister of this child also testified that Rice had sexually abused her
little sister and told Judge Crow that Ms. Lewis’s daughter should not
be allowed to be alone with Rice. It appears from this testimony that
Rice may have pleaded guilty to these charges but we don’t know for
certain as of yet. Rice’s mother stated that the records were “sealed
or something and she thinks the matter was dropped” and Judge Crow
never asked Mr. Rice if he plead guilty or committed the act. Ms.
Lewis’s attorneys are working on a request to review the records.
On April 2009 the Court of Appeals overturned Judge Crow’s previous
custody order citing that the judge had abused his discretion in not
considering the weight of the evidence in determining the best
interest of the child. Some of this abuse of discretion included Judge
Crow’s findings that Ms. Lewis had Munchhausen’s Syndrome and Parental
Alienation Syndrome because she did not want the child to be with the
father. Judge Crow did not properly consider expert testimony that Ms.
Lewis did not have either Syndrome. The case was remanded back to
Judge Crow with instructions to rehear the case following the rules
set out in the Court of Appeals decision.
The case was scheduled to be heard July 24, 2009. About a week prior
to the July 24 hearing Ms. Lewis discovered that her own attorney had
represented Mr. Rice on the previous criminal allegation of sexually
abusing a 4 year old child about 8 years prior.
Ms. Lewis dismissed her attorney, filed a motion for continuance, and
requested time to find a new attorney. The judge did not allow Ms.
Lewis’s continuance until the end of the proceedings that day. Ms.
Lewis pleaded with the judge to review the medical evidence, expert
testimony, prior sexual abuse allegations, and substantiations from
Children’s Services. The judge did not do so and continued with
proceedings which ultimately resulted in the judge ordering that Mr.
Rice could have the child for 7 months of “Compensatory Parenting
Time” and ordered Ms. Lewis to produce the child to Mr. Rice that day.
Ms. Lewis, who had no advance notice whatsoever that she would be
ordered to produce her child in open court that day and told the judge
that she did not know where her daughter was.
The judge found Ms. Lewis in contempt and ordered her into custody
until she returns the child. Ms. Lewis is still in jail to this day.
It also appears that the judge did not hold a proper hearing when he
found Ms. Lewis in Contempt raising a serious loss of liberty issue.
There are four remarkable attorneys that are so outraged at the judges
actions that they have agreed to take the case pro-bono; Gregory
Barwell, Joel Wesp, Randi Ostry LeHoty, and Holly Regoli.
A Notice of Appeal and Motion for Bond to secure the release of Ms.
Lewis has been filed with the 4th District Court of Appeals and an
Affidavit for Disqualification of the judge has been filed with the
Ohio Supreme Court along with 113 pages of exhibits including court
transcripts, expert testimony, expert depositions, and a report from
Children’s Services substantiating that the child was sexually abused
naming Rice as the alleged perpetrator.
But…the wheels of justice are moving far too slow. The Motion for Bond
was filed August 11 with no comments on when they will rule on the
motion and Rice’s attorney has just filed a motion contra. A request
for expedited hearing has been filed but it appears that the court may
take another 30 days to rule. The Affidavit of Disqualification of
Judge Crow was filed with the Supreme Court of Ohio on August 12 and
Judge Crow just filed his Response on September 25.
The Justice League is following up with the criminal allegations of
physical and sexual abuse in Oceanside CA and Tampa Fl to ensure that
investigators have all of the medical evidence, expert testimony, and
substantiations from Children’s Services in Ohio and encourage them to
conduct a thorough investigation and encourage prosecution: for the
safety of this child and potential future child victims.