Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives


Date: 1996-08-02

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)
Author: JIM QUINN, Beacon Journal staff writer / The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The world exploded twice for the girl with two names.

It happened first in 1984, when a bomb blew up in the Salvadoran sky over Imelda Lainez, sending shrapnel into her 6-year-old body.

It happened again this year, when the girl now called Gina Craig, a 17-year-old from Munroe Falls who had grown up being told her parents were dead, learned she had another name and another family in El Salvador.

Now thousands of American families -- including as many as 500 in Northeast Ohio -- have good reason to wonder whether their adopted children have biological parents searching for them in El Salvador.


Date: 1996-07-20

By Mark L. Reece, Staff Writer

The biological mother and aunt of a boy who died two years ago while in the care of his adopted mother decried the state's foster care system Friday. A judge delayed a sentencing hearing to examine additional evidence.

"The system continuously keeps failing," said Donna Ramos, the sister of Vickie Lynn Moghaghab, mother of Kameron Bright.Ramos said foster care officials should have recognized warning signs after several people allegedly reported the family for child abuse.

The 3-year-old died as a result of massive skull injuries at the home of Darlene W. Bright, the boy's legally adoptive mother. West Valley police and investigators presented probable cause evidence to charge Bright with first-degree murder charges and a judge deemed the case triable.

In March, Bright pleaded guilty to a reduced crime of one count of child abuse homicide, a third-degree felony. She faces a possible sentence of zero-to-five years in prison.

El Salvador girl abducted in '84 war rejoins parents

Date: 1996-07-20

The Arizona Daily Star
Author: Associated Press
Dateline: SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador

Early this year, Jose Lainz's family showed up at an office here to plead for help finding their daughter, Imelda, kidnapped by the army in 1984 at the height of El Salvador's civil war.

On Thursday, 12 years of separation ended when the girl - now a 17-year-old American known as Gina Marie Craig - was reunited with her natural parents in their village of Los Cocos, a 90-minute drive east of the capital, San Salvador.

``I feel very good about this reunion, because it's been a long and difficult process,'' said Dr. Robert Kirschner of Physicians for Human Rights, the Boston-based group that performed the DNA testing linking Gina to her family.

``These children have a right to know about their natural families, and the families have a right to know where their children are,'' he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Gina is the first American adoptee to be reunited with a Salvadoran family under a program that has already seen several reunions of Salvadoran families over the past year.


Date: 1996-07-19

Boston Globe
Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

LOS COCOS, El Salvador -- In a reunion filled with joyful tears and awkward silences, a 17-year-old Ohio girl who speaks only English yesterday embraced her biological parents, poor Salvadoran farmers who had not seen their daughter since soldiers seized her from a rebel field hospital 12 years ago.

"My daughter! My love!" cried Jose Lainez, as he and his wife Victoria -- along with their six other children -- enveloped their daughter Imelda in the middle of the asphalt lane that splits the mud-and-stick homes of this tiny community.

The girl, a high school senior, is known as Gina Marie Craig in the Akron, Ohio suburb where she grew up. Taken by soldiers when she was 6, she was declared "morally and materially abandoned" by a Salvadoran judge, then adopted by an American couple who believed that her parents had been killed until DNA testing proved otherwise last month.


Date: 1996-07-16

Sandy Springs woman banned from arranging adoptions in Georgia is named by British couple as their link to a Guatemalan lawyer some call the `baby bandit.' The couple also charges she gave them a `shopping list' of children.

Kathy Scruggs
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution

A Fulton County woman banned from brokering private adoptions in Georgia and Florida is in business through a South Carolina storefront and a childless British couple says she led them on an intercontinental odyssey to a notorious Guatemalan lawyer and a "baby farm."

The couple's claims about the Sandy Springs woman, Lya Sorano, are being investigated by Georgia authorities to determine if Sorano has violated the terms under which her licenses to arrange adoptions in Georgia and Florida were revoked seven years ago.

"If we find evidence that she is operating as a child-placing agency in violation of a previous 1989 court order, then she may be in contempt of that order and punished accordingly," Attorney General Mike Bowers said.

`I don't handle adoptions'

Sorano vehemently denies doing anything wrong.


Date: 1996-07-15

Boston Globe


Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

AKRON, Ohio -- Resplendent in a white sweater and a gold Nike necklace that was a gift from her boyfriend, Gina got her picture taken at K Mart recently -- a portrait of an American teen-ager. She sent the photo to El Salvador, where it now hangs in the mud-and-sticks dwelling of Jose and Victoria Lainez.

There in a dank, dark room cooled by its dirt floor, Gina is known as Imelda. That was her name before she was snatched from a rebel hospital by Salvadoran soldiers in June 1984, deposited at an orphanage, then adopted by a well-meaning American family that changed her name and raised her in a northeast Ohio suburb.


Date: 1996-07-14

Boston Globe
Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

SAN ANTONIO LOS RANCHOS, El Salvador -- Elsy Dubon Romero lost everything but her name one afternoon in 1982. As her mother cowered behind a thorn bush, and her father lay dead, a soldier grabbed the 7-year-old girl by the neck and loaded her onto a helicopter, which rose and disappeared into the blank sky.

Thus began her new life. From an army base, to a Red Cross shelter, she was shuttled finally to an orphanage near San Salvador, the capital. There she grew up, ordered never to talk about what had happened, and told that her family was dead.

Not until 12 years later, by then married and pregnant, did she learn the incredible truth: that her mother, Francisca Romero, was alive, along with five brothers and sisters who she vaguely remembered from a past that had seemed stolen from her.

"It all came back to me when I saw their faces," she said in an interview, quietly sobbing.


Date: 1996-07-05

News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)


A judge has awarded custody of 19 adopted Haitian children to their father.

Dan Blackburn, although elated, says much work will be needed to repair the damage done to the children during the lengthy divorce proceedings.

Kathy Blackburn filed for divorce in December. During the custody hearing, she accused Blackburn of sexually molesting all 11 of their adopted daughters, and accused him of killing a crying baby by stuffing a rag into his mouth while the family lived in Haiti.

The Blackburns drew national attention by adopting 28 children, many very ill, while spending more than a decade as missionaries in Haiti.

Foreign adoptions feared out of control

Date: 1996-06-28

Written by Jason Barber

CORRUPTION and rule-breaking have plagued the adoption of Cambodian children to foreign countries in recent years, according to NGOs who warn the system is open to abuse.

Officials, including within the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Council of Ministers, are accused by some NGOs of taking bribes to approve adoptions.

Some children adopted abroad are not orphans, sources say, and Cambodian "middlemen" are feared to have bought children from poor families for the international adoption process.

Foreign adoption agents have also been active in Cambodia, and been permitted to personally take children out of the country, contrary to the law.

Since 1991, it has been legally banned for children to be released into the custody of intermediaries, rather than directly to adoptive parents who come to Cambodia to pick up the children.

The government does not know the whereabouts of many youngsters adopted to foreigners, "and doesn't have any guarantee that these children are even alive," according to one NGO source.

Adoptions: Saving lives or selling young souls?

Date: 1996-06-28

Written by The phnom penh post

Inter-country adoptions, Cambodia-style: As controversy rages, where are the safeguards?

Jason Barber reports.

TO Daniel Susott, they are "prisoners of charity." Thousands of children, trapped in orphanages around Cambodia, attracting foreign aid dollars but not necessarily what they need most - families.

Why not, he argues, open the doors and send them all abroad, to families willing and able to give them a future?

"The sum total of good that would result from emptying the orphanages would far outweigh the bad.

"Is it better to keep these people in orphanages as prisoners of charity, as magnets for foreign aid, in denial of giving them a charitable family who would give them everything, including an inheritance?

"At least crucify me for the truth," says Susott, founder of the NGO World Family Foundation. "All I want is for the real story to be told. We're battling forces of darkness and ignorance."

Dodsons convicted of abusing their adopted son

Date: 1996-06-20

Dodsons convicted of abusing their adopted son

June 20, 1996
Author: Greg Easterly   
Austin American-Statesman
GEORGETOWN -- A Williamson County jury Wednesday convicted Richard and Christine Dodson of starving and beating their adopted son almost to the point of death last summer. After a full day of testimony and an hour and a half of deliberation, the six-man, six-woman jury returned guilty verdicts for both defendants of intentionally causing serious bodily harm to the boy, now 6 years old.

The jury also convicted the former Round Rock couple of using a deadly weapon during commission of the of the crime -- prosecution witnesses testified the Dodsons used a wooden rod to spank the boy when he disobeyed.

Richard Dodson's defense attorney, Steve Brittian, said the Dodsons simply were  trying to discipline the boy the best they knew how.

"They may deserve a lot of things -- to lose their world, their kids, everything," Brittian said. "But they may not deserve to be held up to the world as child abusers."

Care worker disciplined over boys

Date: 1996-06-15

A retired health worker has been disciplined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council over the death of an orphan and injury to his brother.

Claire McDonnell, 66, was in charge of the care of David and Samuel Briggs.

The Romanian twins were adopted by a Northern Ireland missionary, who was jailed for hurting the injured boy.

Miss McDonnell, from Portadown, received a caution to last five years for failing to keep proper records and failing to identify families in need.

She will be allowed to remain on the nurses register.

Miss McDonnell was found guilty in 2004 of the charges by a NMC professional conduct committee, but no disciplinary action was taken.

'Unduly lenient'


Date: 1996-06-13


June 13, 1996
Austin American-Statesman
A story on Page B7 of Wednesday's edition about the trial of Richard and Christine Dodson, who are accused of abusing their two adopted children, should have said they adopted the children in December 1992 through the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. The children were in no way associated with the Marywood Children and Family Services, as the story indicated.


Date: 1996-06-12

News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)


The fate of 28 orphaned Haitian children still hangs in the balance.

Testimony was to continue today in the complex custody battle between Dan and Kathy Blackburn.

David Vaught, whose wife Cheryl is one of Kathy Blackburn's closest friends, testified Tuesday that the two women were involved in a religious cult that believes in demon possession.

Vaught called the charismatic-based movement a ``cult'' and said he left Latter Day Ministries about one year ago.

Dan Blackburn has said his wife's friendship with Cheryl Vaught, as well as her membership in the cult, contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.

Also on Tuesday, the head of the Shelby County Guardian Ad Litem program and a court-appointed welfare caseworker testified that Dan Blackburn should be awarded custody.

Neighbor testifies child's punishment had racial overtone

Date: 1996-06-12

Neighbor testifies child's punishment had racial overtone

June 12, 1996
Linda Latham Welch   
Austin American-Statesman
A neighbor testified Tuesday that Christine Dodson told her she punished her young adopted son more severely than her other children because she didn't want him to become "a lazy black man." Dodson and her husband, Richard, who are white, are being tried in district court on charges of abusing their 6-year-old son, who doctors say was starved nearly to death, and their 5-year-old daughter, whose arms and leg were broken. 

The boy and his sister are African American. The Dodsons force their son to run laps for hours around a tree in the front yard as punishment, regardless of of the weather.

The Dodsons lived in the Creek Bend subdivision in Round Rock. The Dodsons moved to Round Rock in 1993.

Raney said the worn path around the tree was not before they came. They moved to Jonestown after they were released on bond from the Williamson County Jail last fall.

Pound Pup Legacy