REPORTS SAY MOTHER SHOULDN'T GET CUSTODY OF 28 ADOPTED ORPHANS

Date: 1996-05-15

News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)

May 15, 1996
Author: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dateline: SHELBYVILLE

A woman involved in a custody battle with her estranged husband over 28 orphans they adopted as missionaries in Haiti should not get custody, according to welfare and guardians' reports referred to by both sides in court.

Kathy Blackburn filed to divorce Dan Blackburn in December. She has temporary custody of the couple's 28 adopted children.

Kathy Blackburn and several of her relatives testified Tuesday before Shelby Circuit Judge Charles O'Connor. She testified that she believes her husband molested all of their adopted daughters.

Testimony revealed that sheriff's deputies had been called to the Blackburns' Shelby County home three times within the last month ``to get things under control,'' said Dan Blackburn's attorney, Kelley Baldwin.

Dan Blackburn no longer lives there. But deputies arrested two of the Blackburns' male children, Kathy Blackburn acknowledged, and one of them remains in custody.

Kathy Blackburn and her attorney suggested that Dan Blackburn is engaged in an improper relationship with a social worker assigned to their case. Kathy Blackburn showed three different photographs showing her husband and the woman together, however, she denied conducting surveillance on her husband.

And, both Blackburns have hit some of the children, according to witnesses.

Previous allegations expounded Tuesday, included Kathy Blackburn's assertion that Dan Blackburn killed a 5-month-old boy in Haiti by stuffing a rag in his mouth, and that he is a mercurial father with a fiery temper and little patience for some of his children - especially the boys.

Also, Dan Blackburn allegedly convinced Kathy's mother, Doris Lortz, that his wife was having a lesbian affair with a friend from a religious group, Lortz said.

Kathy Blackburn and the Martinsville woman also tried to start a Christian women's group called Comfort Ministries, Kathy Blackburn said. Attempts to have ownership of the family's donated home transferred to that group failed, Baldwin said.

Baldwin also noted that Kathy Blackburn, while sharing the molestation allegations with numerous friends, never reported any of the allegations to police or welfare officials until after Baldwin asked for an emergency custody hearing to settle who would get the children.

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