- Mother terrified for child’s safety after shock ruling
- Oklahoma family say they lack the funds to appeal custody verdict
The mother of a six-year-old girl fears for her daughter’s safety after an Oklahoma judge awarded sole custody of the child to her convicted pedophile father.
Nicholas Elizondo served six years in jail after being convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.
The girl’s mother, Lisa Knight, who divorced Elizondo when she was pregnant, claims her father had shown little interest in Sarah until she reached the age of his victim.
Despite having lived all her life in Norman, Oklahoma, a judge ruled that Sarah should live with the 55-year-old convicted sex offender in Bakersfield, California.
‘I don’t understand how a sex offender can just walk in the courtroom and just take her after I’ve had her for six years,’ Ms Knight said.
‘I just know that his victim was six years old at the time and Sarah is six years old right now,’ she told KforTV.
To add to her concerns, Ms Knight claimed that when Sarah returned from a recent visit with her father, she told her mother ‘something really bad happened in the bathtub’.
The family allege that Sarah told them her half brother had touched her inappropriately.
Custody battle: A court has ordered Sarah Knight to live with her convicted sex offender father in California
Appeal: Lisa Knight says she will fight to get her child back as soon as she has enough money
‘I’ve been fighting him and I just don`t have any more money to fight him at all,’ Ms Knight said.
She thinks the judge questioned her parenting when she was unable to name all of Sarah’s doctors. The six-year-old, who has a cleft lip and palette, sees a lot of specialists.
‘There is no threat to her whatsoever here. Nothing`s happened to her. She`s made all of her appointments,’ Ms Coomer said.
‘Because mom can`t remember the doctor`s names then she`s a bad mom? I don`t think so.’
After the couple divorced in 2008, Ms Knight was given custody of Sarah. At first her father was given supervised visits, and later unsupervised visits, to see his daughter.
In court documents, Elizondo said he filed for custody after Ms Knight stopped allowing him to see his daughter.
The convicted sex offender told KLewTV that he took a plea bargain in 1995 when faced with 11 felony charges.
In return for pleading no contest to one charge, the others were dropped. But Elizondo says he is not guilty.
‘It never happened,’ he said, referring to the charge he was jailed for.
His victim also denied that was she molested, when she appeared at a court hearing about visitation rights.
Kern County Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman added: ‘There isn’t anything prohibiting a judge from giving a person convicted of that once they’ve done their time and they’re off probation or parole.’
‘There is a lot to be taken into account, but you’d think that there would be a great deal of weight given to a person that actually was charged and convicted and went to prison for molesting a child under 14,’ he added.
Ms Coomer pointed out that because Elizondo is a registered sex offender, he will be unable to carry out many parental duties, such as dropping Sarah off at school.
‘He can`t take her to Chuck E. Cheese. He can`t take her to a park,’ she said. ‘He can`t go to her school. He`s not allowed in school.’
Ms Knight has vowed to fight to regain custody of Sarah as soon as she can afford the legal costs.