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Mother, hiding in Kentucky, accepts order


BEL AIR -- A mother trying to prevent unsupervised contact between her ex-husband, who is on probation for child sex abuse, and her 5-year-old daughter agreed yesterday to come out of hiding and accept a Harford County Circuit Court judge's offer to turn the child over to Kentucky authorities.

In a telephone interview from an undisclosed location, the woman, whose name is being withheld to protect the child-abuse victim, said she was "going for the deal" to turn herself and the child over to the Kentucky Department for Social Services.

She said she also wants assurance that an order allowing police to return them to Maryland has been rescinded, but Harford County did not alter that order yesterday.

"The only thing I've wanted was for her visits with her father to be supervised by an agency," said the woman, who has been in hiding since last August. "If supervision is required for my visits, too, that's fine. I think these little details can be worked out, but I don't know how long it will take."

Her decision came hours after Harford Judge Maurice W. Baldwin Jr. heard arguments from a Kentucky state agency's lawyer, whereupon the judge delayed for 30 days an order transferring custody of the child to her father.

If the mother turns herself and the child in to Kentucky officials, that agency would have custody of the child under an informal agreement with the Harford County Department of Social Services. All visits by both parents would be supervised by Kentucky social services officials.

Judge Baldwin ordered the custody transfer last Thursday, saying the mother has "psychological problems," but he has stayed the order three times. Kentucky authorities have entered the case because the mother was living in Kentucky when she went into hiding. She has since tried to have the case transferred from Maryland.

"My primary concern is the child. If we leave things as they are, he may or may not see the child again, and if I award custody he may not ever see her again," said Judge Baldwin, referring to the father. "While I have reluctance to go along with the suggestion, I will agree to stay the order for 30 days."

The mother took her daughter into hiding after Harford Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill issued an order that the child be sent on an overnight visit with her father, to be supervised by one of the man's friends. Judge Whitfill transferred custody from Mary to the Harford County Department of Social Services in January.

Judge Witfill in 1987 convicted the father of one count of child abuse.

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