British Press Get it Wrong on U.S. Woman’s Kidnapping of Children

June 9, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

I think I’ll start a fundraising campaign to buy telephones for British “journalists.” I think it’s a shame that perfectly upstanding reporters don’t have telephones. After all, their job is to report the news and that often means interviewing people who aren’t present and can only be reached by long-range communications devices. I guess I need to expand the campaign to include personal computers, I-phones and the like. Seriously, members of the British press are clearly hamstrung by not having basic means of communication and I can prove it.

Exhibit A is here (BBC, 7/4/14). Exhibit B is here (Daily Mail, 7/4/14).

Both articles are about Eileen Clark whose husband John told her way back in 1995 he was going to divorce her. She responded to that very common occurrence by abducting their three children, first to California and then to England. He didn’t see them until 2010. He had no idea of where they were until 2008 when Eileen and the three kids were discovered living openly in Oxford. During all that time, he was trying, with the help of the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies to locate her and, more recently, to have her extradited to New Mexico to face criminal trial for international child kidnapping, custodial interference, and other offenses. Last August, the U.S.’s extradition request was granted, Eileen appealed and just this past Friday, her appeal was denied. This article tells us she appeared in federal court in New Mexico on Monday, July 7 and is being held without bond in an Albuquerque jail (KRQE, 7/7/14).

Astonishingly, this article tells us a federal judge has now ordered her released on bail (KRQE, 7/8/14). Let’s see; she fled the state and then the country 19 years ago. I wonder if she’s a flight risk. Nah.

Little of any of those facts appear in the various accounts by British news outlets. They’re far too involved in channeling her claims that John was abusive toward her and that she still suffers (almost 20 years later!) from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of it.

And that’s what leads me to believe that the people reporting on the case don’t have phones. After all, if they did, surely they’d have used them to ring up John, or perhaps the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico and get their side of the story, right? Of course they would. Indeed, perhaps the very first thing one learns in journalism school is to get “both” sides of the story. Don’t just listen to one person and repeat what he/she says; ask others what they know. Otherwise, the reporter becomes nothing more than the mouthpiece for one person or one side of a story. In the process, the reporter sets him/herself up for being used by the source and of course readers are likely to be misled.

And sure enough, all that has occurred in the Clark matter.

Eileen Clark, a US citizen living in West Way, Oxford, left her unhappy marriage over a decade ago.

Liberty said removing the "vulnerable" and "terrified" 57-year-old was a "perfect example of inhumanity and injustice"…

But the case returned to court following fresh human rights submissions and a new diagnosis that Ms Clark was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to a history of domestic violence and abuse in the 1990s…

Emma Norton, legal officer at Liberty, said: "Our client has been put on a plane by police officers at London Heathrow and extradited to the US – where the husband she fled almost 20 years ago waits to face her in court.

"The decision to send Eileen to the US disregards the terrible harm that extradition itself, let alone the prospect of facing her alleged abuser, will have on her."

Speaking to the BBC in May, Ms Clark said she sees the extradition as just another part of her ex-husband’s abuse.

"He is trying to destroy me," she said.

"I feel like this is his final bid for power and control over me – to tear me away from my home, family and friends – after escaping years of abuse at his hands."…

Ms Clark alleges her then husband threatened to push her down a flight of stairs while she was pregnant, hit her and abused her emotionally – until she reached her limit and escaped in 1995.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said she was "horrified" and called it a "bleak day".

She said: "It is highly disturbing that her claims have not been properly examined in a court of law in this country.

"Instead, this terrified woman is being handed back to the States to face criminal charges."

See what I mean? The reporter got a lot of things wrong that, had he/she had access to a telephone could have been corrected. So, for example, Eileen didn’t “leave her unhappy marriage;” John told her he was leaving and she, instead of simply going through the process of divorce the way so many people do, took the law into her own hands.

PTSD? Please. Whatever happened between John and Eileen occurred in 1995 and before. The notion that she still suffers from PTSD is doubtful at best. My guess is she never did. What’s her record of seeking psychiatric care for her PTSD over the past 19 years? Medical care? Has she been able to have gainful employment? If not, has she received some form of disability payments? The reporter didn’t learn those obviously pertinent facts. But for a phone…

John “waits to face her in court” in New Mexico? Not really. The case against her is a criminal one. As such, it is the state in the person of FBI agents, the U.S. Attorney and other law-enforcement officials who’ve charged her. John’s nothing more than a witness.

Extradition is “just another part of her ex-husband’s abuse?” That’s odd. Had she not violated criminal law, she wouldn’t have been indicted or extradited. The entire proceeding against her is entirely a result of her own behavior. John didn’t extradite her and in fact has no power to do so. The United States did. All Eileen ever had to do was follow through with a divorce case, get primary custody as she was almost certain to do, and move on with her life. Her current mewling about extradition is baseless. I mean, what she’s really arguing for is the power to commit crimes free of consequence. My guess is that, had the reporter called John or the Albuquerque U.S. Attorney’s Office, they’d have learned all that, but alas they clearly neither have telephones nor access to them.

It’s “disturbing” that Eileen’s “claims have not been properly examined in a court of law?” Of course they could have been had she hung around New Mexico and made them in the divorce case John promised to file. Claims of abuse, particularly by a mother against a father, are taken very seriously by family courts in this country, so, as with the extradition issue, it looks like Eileen is complaining about the results of her own behavior. Again, reporters could have contacted family lawyers in New Mexico and learned all that, but clearly had no ability to do so. Such a shame.

Of course this is all just business as usual. Has there ever been a case in which a mother abducted children from their home country and not claimed abuse? Have those claims ever been viewed by the local press as anything but the gospel truth? And yet in case after case, those claims are found to be baseless. In fact, John Clark apparently took a polygraph test administered by the FBI whose results showed he’d not abused Eileen at all. Is there any evidence whatsoever that he abused her? No. There are no medical records, no mental health records, no complaints to the police, nothing.

In fact, apart from Eileen’s self-serving and entirely unverified claims, there is nothing to suggest that her kidnapping of John’s children was anything but an exercise of naked aggression toward him. We actually do know a bit about his side of the story. It appears here in a comment to a 2010 article in the Oxford Mail by his sister (Oxford Mail, 9/10/10). It’s a long and rather detailed account of what the woman knows about John and Eileen’s marriage, the children, etc. It strongly suggests Eileen is lying through her teeth and has been for 19 years.

And it raises yet another issue with the British “journalists” “covering” the case. Not only do they not have telephones, laptops, desktops, I-phones, etc. Apparently they can’t read either. So I suppose I have to expand my fundraising campaign still further to include instruction in reading English along with everything else.

Thanks to Malcolm for the heads-up.


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