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On the lam, and refusing to face judge

Lori Allain, who with her husband skipped trial on child abuse charges, phones the Times and tells a reporter why.


BROOKSVILLE - Lori Allain called.

The Hernando County woman is wanted along with her husband for skipping the start of her late October trial on charges of child abuse and neglect. Lori and Arthur "Tommy" Allain have been on the lam ever since. Late Thursday afternoon, though, she called the St. Petersburg Times.

In a conversation that lasted not quite a half-hour - her first public comments since early November - she didn't say where she was but did make it quite clear she wanted no part of Circuit Judge Jack Springstead.

"I want Springstead the f--- off my case," she said.

Sheriff Richard Nugent's response?

First: "This is ridiculous that she's calling you guys," he said when reached on his cell phone later Thursday evening.

Second: "When she gets arrested and goes in front of a judge, she can make that motion to have the trial moved," he said. "But she has to go in front of the judge. . . . That's between the attorney, the judge and no one else."

The lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant State Attorney Sherry Byerly, is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment, but Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway returned a message left at his home in Ocala.

"You don't get to pick your judge," Ridgway said.

"If she wants a new judge, she can turn herself in and file the proper motion. If she's got proper legal grounds, then she'll get a new judge, but we're not really in the business of negotiating with people who are on the run."

The Allains originally were arrested June 18, 2004, and charged with keeping their 10-year-old foster daughter behind a double-locked door in their northwest Hernando trailer and starving her until she was dehydrated and malnourished, weighed 29 pounds and was "at risk of imminent death," said an attorney for the state Department of Children and Families.

Arthur Allain, 47, is a truck driver.

Lori Allain, 49, is on disability because of a 1977 motorcycle crash and has a tattoo on her chest that says, "Only God Can Judge Me."

The two of them have been missing since Oct. 25, when they failed to appear as scheduled at 9 a.m. in Springstead's courtroom. Their four biological sons, ranging in age from 12 to 16, are with them.

That day in the courtroom, Byerly asked for warrants for their arrest at 9:20 a.m., and there was no argument from the Allains' attorneys: Elliott Ambrose of Brooksville for him, Robert Christensen of Homosassa for her.

Ambrose said that morning he thought the no-show had something to do with the county government and courts being closed the day before because of the effects of Hurricane Wilma.

"I just think that they have misunderstood," he said. "I don't think there was any intentional conduct on their part."

In Thursday's conversation, Lori Allain said she and her husband had met with Christensen in Homosassa on the Sunday before the trial and that he told them that any Wilma-related weather changes probably would mean a rescheduling of the trial, not just a day's delay.

Christensen could not be reached Thursday evening. The message at his office number said his law office is closed until Tuesday. Ambrose couldn't be reached either.

On Oct. 25, Lori Allain said, Ambrose's secretary called and left a message on the cell phone of her adult daughter, Kristen, saying they had to be in court but that she and her husband didn't get calls. She said she was in bed. She said her husband was at work.

She threw on a green sweater and a pair of jeans and did a quick comb of her hair, she said, and was on the way to the courthouse when she talked to Ambrose's secretary and heard that Springstead had issued the warrant and set no bail possibility at all.

"At that point," she said Thursday, "I was like, "Oh, my God, they're not taking my kids.' And with that I took my kids and I left."

Authorities have been looking for them ever since.

"We're turning over every stone we can find to see if we can capture them," Nugent said Thursday evening. "We can only do so much. They can stay hidden for only so long."

In the last 10 minutes of the Thursday evening conversation with Lori Allain, a man could be heard in the background.

"Hurry up," he kept saying. "You're running out of time."

"The honest to God truth," Lori Allain said, "is that I don't trust Springstead."

She was asked what she would do if Springstead were taken off her case.

"I'd be back 1, 2, 3," she said.

And if not?

"When my kids are all 18," she said.

"That's right.

"That's another six years."

Then the line went dead.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or 352 848-1434.

2005 Dec 30