Date: 1996-12-05

Post-Tribune (IN)

Author: Post-Tribune Staff Report

A child advocate who helped a Shelbyville man win custody of his 28 adopted kids was charged Tuesday with threatening two of the children if they didn't withhold testimony in the custody case.

Guardian Peggy Hodson allegedly told one of Dan Blackburn's adopted daughters she "would not be heard of again" if she testified in the custody case, according to state police

Hodson, 42, was arrested Tuesday at her Shelbyville home and charged with two counts of obstructing justice. The charges each carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

She was released on $5,000 bond.

In court records, authorities said Hodson threatened or coerced two of the daughters to withhold testimony.

One of the daughters told investigators Hodson threatened her outside the courthouse during the custody case, according to a state police report.

Another daughter told police Hodson called her one day and said the children might have to testify in the custody case. Hodson allegedly instructed the girl "if they ask you any questions about you and Dad, I want you to lie," according to the state police report.

Kathy Blackburn filed for divorced in December 1995, and a Shelby County judge awarded Dan Blackburn the couple's 28 adopted Haitian children in July.

The proceedings were full of accusations from both sides of abuse.

Kathy Blackburn alleged Dan Blackburn molested his daughters and physically abused the family. Dan Blackburn and several social workers alleged Kathy Blackburn, who had temporary custody of the children while the case was in court, was abusing and neglecting the children.

A Shelby County judge has issued a noncontact order forbidding Hodson from talking to, calling or visiting the two children mentioned in the state police report. Hodson also may not go to the Blackburn home at any time, according to the order.

During the custody trial, Hodson testified that Kathy Blackburn was a bad mother and that the couple's minor children should be placed in Dan Blackburn's custody.


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