Tucson couple indicted on federal kidnapping charges
An Illinois couple living in Tucson who were accused of misrepresenting themselves to gain custody of another couple's adopted child face federal kidnapping charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Illinois indicted 37-year-old Nicole Eason of Danville and 46-year-old Calvin Eason of Westville on charges of kidnapping and transporting a child across state lines.
Prosecutors allege the Easons participated in an online discussion board with adoptive parents seeking new homes for children they no longer wanted or couldn't care for. The Easons allegedly lied about their background, and one couple brought their adopted child to Illinois in 2007.
Prosecutors say the Easons allegedly sexually abused that child while they had custody.
Authorities allege they kidnapped a second child in the same manner in 2008, allegedly transporting that child across state lines.
The Easons were living in Tucson when they were arrested in early April.
They were the central example of the five-part series by Reuters news service in 2013 on a practice called “re-homing,” in which adoptive parents who are having trouble handling an adopted child pass on custody of the child through informal, Internet-based networking. The transfers are usually completed by signing a notarized document without any involvement from government agencies or attorneys.
The Easons spent years moving from state to state and lived in several different places within Tucson. In 2013, a former neighbor of a mobile home on West 44th Street where the Easons once lived described a revolving door of children and dogs that went through the mobile home.
Nicole Eason told the Star in 2013 that she had accepted kids from adoptive parents who couldn't handle them 11 times.
She was insistent that none of the children was meant to stay with the family permanently, but rather she was providing the adoptive parents with a respite, which she described as giving the parents time to "mellow out, chill, take away from everyday stress."
At the time of the interview, the Easons had three children living with them in long-term hotel rooms.
Before coming to Tucson, two of the six children they'd taken in accused Nicole Eason of having them sleep in her bed while she was naked, but the couple denied the accusation.
Nicole Eason's biological children had been taken away previously by child protective services in Massachusetts and South Carolina.