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Dad Pleads Not Guilty on Violating Court Order For Taking Daughter to Church


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Dad Pleads Not Guilty on Violating Court Order For Taking Daughter to Church

Chicago Man Could Get 6 Months Jail in Custody Dispute Over Religious Services

By CHRIS CUOMO, LAUREN PEARLE, FELICIA PATINKIN and SUZAN CLARKE

Feb. 16, 2010

A Chicago man who defied a court order and took his toddler to a Catholic Church service was arraigned today on a charge of indirect criminal contempt in a custody battle that is threatening to put him in jail and draw new boundaries in divorce cases.

Father defies court order and takes his daughter to church.

Joseph Reyes pleaded not guilty for allegedly violating a court order issued by Chicago family law Judge Edward R. Jordan who had barred Reyes from taking his 3-year-old daughter to church following a dispute over religion with his estranged wife. Reyes' wife, Rebecca Reyes, is Jewish.

Reyes, a veteran of the Afghan war, made a motion to have his contempt charges heard by a different judge, a motion that was granted. He was arraigned before Judge Elizabeth Loredo-Rivera.

If found guilty of indirect criminal contempt, Reyes could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

The next court date is on March 3, when Reyes is expected to file a motion to dismiss all charges against him.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Reyes said, "There's a strong possibility I could end up in jail. It's really sad it's come to this."

Reyes and his wife are in abitter divorce battle, and the question of what faith their child should be raised in is pushing the boundaries of child custody arrangements.

Reyes' decision to baptize his daughter without his wife's permission resulted in what some are calling an extraordinary court order: Jordan in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., imposed a 30-day restraining order forbidding Joseph Reyes from, according to the document, "exposing his daughter to any other religion than the Jewish religion. …"

The couple married in 2004. Joseph Reyes was Catholic, but he converted to Judaism to please his in-laws. He has said the decision wasn't "voluntary."

Despite his conversion, Reyes, 35, said he never stopped practicing Catholicism.

Man Baptized Daughter Without Informing Estranged Wife

When the marriage fell apart, Rebecca Reyes, 34, got custody of their daughter. The girl, now 3, has been raised Jewish and attended a Jewish preschool.

Her father decided to baptize his daughter without consulting his wife.

Joseph Reyes sent his wife pictures and an e-mail documenting the occasion. Rebecca Reyes responded by filing for the temporary restraining order, which the judge granted.

Stephen Lake, Rebecca Reyes' attorney, said his client was shocked at her estranged husband's actions.

"Number one, it wasn't just a religious thing per se, it was the idea that he would suddenly, out of nowhere without any discussion … have the girl baptized," Lake said. "She looked at it as basically an assault on her little girl."

Furthermore, Joseph Reyes had never been a particularly devout Christian, Lake added.

When the girl's father took her to church again in violation of the order, he called the media to witness the event.

A court could rule today on whether Reyes should be jailed for criminal contempt, but he contends he did nothing wrong.

"Going to church, I don't think I violated the order," he told "Good Morning America." "In terms of Judaism, based on the information I was given, Catholicism falls right under the umbrella of Judaism."

In a YouTube video of the subsequent visit to church, Joseph Reyes says, "I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours."

Lake, Rebecca Reyes' attorney, said Joseph Reyes had never been a particularly devout Christian.

"This was just something that he knew was going to have a negative effect on [Rebecca Reyes], and I think that's why he did it," Lake said, speaking of Reyes' church visits with the little girl.

"I think he was just trying to exert some power," Lake said.

But Reyes, who is studying law, said he only wants to be a good father to his daughter and expose her to his faith. That's something the courts usually allow in divorce cases, experts say.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, said a parent who has visitation rights "usually has the right to expose the child to his religious beliefs, teach the child his religion, to take the child to religious services, unless there seems to be likely psychological or physical harm stemming from that exposure."

Family court law expert Lynne Gold-Bikin said Reyes should have followed the court order, but also said, "If this couple made an agreement about what religion to raise their child, then it's an inappropriate order."

Reyes: Conversion Wasn't 'Voluntary'

Reyes said his faith is important to him.

Explaining his conversion, he said, "I did it because, one, my mother- and father-in-law would not accept me any other way and two, because they would not accept me, it was putting a lot of burden on the marriage."

While he acknowledged that his actions -- flouting the court order and involving the media -- didn't help to end the conflict, he said he has to take a stand.

"I've made every concession that I possibly can make for Rebecca, and I have to draw the line in the sand somewhere and this is where I choose to draw it," he said.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Law/divorce-battle-joseph-reyes-faces-jail-baptizing-daughter-church/story?id=9845919&page=1

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An interesting omission from the article. The reason the father requested that his contempt hearing be had in front of a different judge is the judge who issued the order saying the child could only be exposed to Judaism..........is Jewish.

I find this an odd order to say the least. I don't agree necessarily with how dad is handling the situation, but it is nearly unheard of for a court to order that a child be raised in a certain religious faith or not be exposed to a natural parent's religious faith. It's bizarre.

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An interesting omission from the article. The reason the father requested that his contempt hearing be had in front of a different judge is the judge who issued the order saying the child could only be exposed to Judaism..........is Jewish.

I find this an odd order to say the least. I don't agree necessarily with how dad is handling the situation, but it is nearly unheard of for a court to order that a child be raised in a certain religious faith or not be exposed to a natural parent's religious faith. It's bizarre.

That is nuts.

The sad thing is this little girl is being put in the middle of it, and the fact yet again religion is going to used as some sort of political tool.

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From what I remeber the guy is probably trying raise his daughter with catholic values to spite his wife because his wife cheated on him. She denies it but it's hard to argue against the emails he discovered she had written. The guy contends that even though he got circumsied and stuff he still attended mass and stuff. So I don't know I mean what's wrong with him raising his daughter both catholic and jewish. Going to jail seems a harsh to me. It's not like his intentionally trying to abuse his daughters well being.

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From what I remeber the guy is probably trying raise his daughter with catholic values to spite his wife because his wife cheated on him. She denies it but it's hard to argue against the emails he discovered she had written. The guy contends that even though he got circumsied and stuff he still attended mass and stuff. So I don't know I mean what's wrong with him raising his daughter both catholic and jewish. Going to jail seems a harsh to me. It's not like his intentionally trying to abuse his daughters well being.

That was my take too.

Usually harm must be shown to restrict a parent from exposing a child to religious views. What exactly is the harm in attending a Catholic mass? Risk of contracting a meniscus injury?

(if you've never been to a liturgical service, please feel free to ask me to explain the last sentence).

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The judgment restricting the father from exposing his child to Catholicism is an odd one, I should think. There needs to be an arrangement by which both parents agree to expose their child to both religions, I think. But this is an interesting set of circumstances.

However, I do find fault with the father for doing this. It seems like the father is more or less using his daughter to test the limits of the judicial system. Now I personally enjoy seeing someone test the bounds of a system, any system. It's just in my blood to do that myself. But this father seems to have his priorities out of whack, since it seems like he is willing to risk spending time with his child in order to prove a point. Even with my personal preference for doing similar things I certainly do not think I would risk the ability to be with my child just to test the limits.

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The kid is dealing with enough, but the parents feel the need to force their religion on the kid just to spite one another. The kid doesn't know the first thing about religion.

Well the child may know the meaning of hypocrit by now or could at least give an example of the word.

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What exactly is the harm in attending a Catholic mass? Risk of contracting a meniscus injury?

(if you've never been to a liturgical service, please feel free to ask me to explain the last sentence).

So true.

As to this whole story. On one hand, I agree that this guy appears to be using his daughter as a prop in this. On the other hand, I think that the order made by the Jewish Judge is completely uncalled for. It's not the place of the government to tell a citizen that they cannot take their child to a religious service. That's completely absurd. This guy needs to fight this to the very end.

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The judgment restricting the father from exposing his child to Catholicism is an odd one, I should think. There needs to be an arrangement by which both parents agree to expose their child to both religions, I think. But this is an interesting set of circumstances.

It's actually a pretty good argument for choosing a mate who generally agrees with you on religious matters. I know that's a quaint notion, but if you are serious about your religious beliefs, how can you expect your spouse not to be?

However, I do find fault with the father for doing this. It seems like the father is more or less using his daughter to test the limits of the judicial system. Now I personally enjoy seeing someone test the bounds of a system, any system. It's just in my blood to do that myself. But this father seems to have his priorities out of whack, since it seems like he is willing to risk spending time with his child in order to prove a point. Even with my personal preference for doing similar things I certainly do not think I would risk the ability to be with my child just to test the limits.

The last point is my greatest issue with what he's doing. There is a legal way to fight the order without risking a contempt charge. On the one hand, I admire him taking a stand. On the other, he called the press when he took her to mass, which calls into question his motives.

But leaving that aside (not that it's unimportant), I think the greater issue is why the judge would order such a thing in the 1st place. Even if dad is being spiteful, he's not harming the child at all. Assuming dad is acting out of spite, it seems like the judge is reacting in kind.

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It's actually a pretty good argument for choosing a mate who generally agrees with you on religious matters. I know that's a quaint notion, but if you are serious about your religious beliefs, how can you expect your spouse not to be?

The last point is my greatest issue with what he's doing. There is a legal way to fight the order without risking a contempt charge. On the one hand, I admire him taking a stand. On the other, he called the press when he took her to mass, which calls into question his motives.

But leaving that aside (not that it's unimportant), I think the greater issue is why the judge would order such a thing in the 1st place. Even if dad is being spiteful, he's not harming the child at all. Assuming dad is acting out of spite, it seems like the judge is reacting in kind.

You may be right about the judge being spiteful. But I think I read that the ruling was originally for a 30 day period. To me that sounds like the judge advised the parents to reach some sort of accord because he was uncomfortable making such a decision. It sounds to me that the judge had his hand forced a bit because neither of the parents would back off. Maybe the judge was just trying to look out for the child and prevent the parents from becoming even more obstinate toward one another.

The judicial system needs to stay out of this. Work on the divorce like they do but when it comes to what religion the child will be exposed to, they should just let the parents work that out amongst themselves.

I get the feeling that the judge didn't want to be involved but he took a step in an attempt to calm the parents down and give them time to reach an agreement on their own. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't feel certain that the judge wanted to be involved in this anyway. If the parent who has custody of the child feels strongly about the religion that they follow how do you, as a judge, tell her to allow her ex to expose the child to a different religion. It's almost like the judge has issued a temporary restraining order in hopes that cooler heads will prevail.
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ya Dave explain that to me because even though i was supposedly raised catholic I never attended mass and stuff. From what I remember the wife also went on to say that she didn't want he ex go to jail, but would go through with it if he kept taking her to mass. Don't quote me on that though i saw the special on tv like a week ago but I wasn't really paying attention.

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ya Dave explain that to me because even though i was supposedly raised catholic I never attended mass and stuff. From what I remember the wife also went on to say that she didn't want he ex go to jail, but would go through with it if he kept taking her to mass. Don't quote me on that though i saw the special on tv like a week ago but I wasn't really paying attention.

There's a lot of changing between sitting, standing and kneeling in a liturgical mass.

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You may be right about the judge being spiteful. But I think I read that the ruling was originally for a 30 day period. To me that sounds like the judge advised the parents to reach some sort of accord because he was uncomfortable making such a decision. It sounds to me that the judge had his hand forced a bit because neither of the parents would back off. Maybe the judge was just trying to look out for the child and prevent the parents from becoming even more obstinate toward one another.

If that was his aim, he failed miserably.

Think about it -- you want to calm the situation, so you say for 30 days the child can have no contact with any religion EXCEPT the wife's religion? If he couldn't see that was going to escalate the situation, I don't know that he's fit to be a judge. I'm guessing, though, that's not the case. I don't know what he was thinking, but it couldn't have been that. If that was the aim, he would have said for 30 days the child is not to be taken to religious services and the parties are ordered to mediate the issue and come to an acceptable resolution. Instead, whatever dad's motivation, the wife said "I'm going to move the court to stop you from exposing our child to your religion and only allow the child to be exposed to my religion" and the judge (who shares the same religion as the wife) agreed.

And if you believe the experts, wrongly agreed.

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