Thursday, May 8, 2008

A warning regarding child abduction

Child abduction is far more common than one would think. Only a small fraction of abductions make the news or receive an Amber Alert.

But those postcards from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children keep coming in the mail. Those are real people, real children and real parents who years later are still looking, still hoping, still praying for the return of their child. Looking right now, looking for years.

Children are particularly at risk during the first five years following a divorce proceeding.

The following information is available on the Utah Department of Public Safety website at

The policy is clear and correct, but in real life, if your child is taken to Utah , you are on your own.


Each year hundreds of children fall victim to family abductions.

Many believe these children are perfectly safe because they are with a family member; however, nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is common for the child victims to have their names and appearance altered, to experience medical and physical neglect, unstable schooling, homelessness, and frequent relocations.

These children are often told lies about the abduction and the left-behind parent; even that the left-behind parent is dead. Most of these children live as fugitives: taught not to trust anyone, told to keep secrets about their past; unable to establish relationships with friends; and always on the run from the law.

As a result of this form of serious child abuse, many child victims of family abductions experience psychological consequences and emotional distress.

Children involved in family abductions are usually taken by the non-custodial parent as an act of revenge against the ex-spouse/custodial parent.

Empower Your Children

Help your children help themselves. Be as honest as you can about the potential abduction.

Custodial parents should inform their children to never go on a trip without them.

Let your children know they should ask law enforcement for help if they are in an airport or traveling without your permission.

When instructing your children about how to use the telephone, make sure they know how to make long-distance and international calls. Teach them to dial “0” for an operator or “911” in an emergency.

Additional resources can be found at

Taking these important steps may help prevent the abduction of your child. Children are particularly at risk during the first five years following a divorce proceeding.

Obtain legal custody of your child.

Specify in the custody order exact times and locations for visitation.

Ask for special prevention provisions.

Consider counseling or mediation to work toward resolving problems.

Always keep current information of your child on file.

Notify schools, daycare centers, and babysitters of custody orders.

Keep current names and addresses of relatives or friends that the potential abducting parent might travel to.

Keep on file certified copies of your custody order

If you have custody papers from a state other then Utah, you MUST file them with the Utah State Courts.

If Your Child is Abducted

File a missing person report with your local police and request an investigation.

Request your child be entered into the FBI's National Crime Information Center computer. (NCIC)

If you suspect the child has been taken out of the country, call the U.S. Department of State.

Contact the state Missing Children's Clearinghouse.

Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

Consider asking the police or prosecutor to file criminal charges against the abductor.

Say Yes for Kids

My children disappeared on February 12, 1996 while the entire Northwest was in the grip of a major storm.

Six months later, The Oregonian published an editorial titled “Say Yes for Kids”, that noted the abduction of the Cruz children.

The Oregonian described the findings of the Oregon Task Force on Family Law in the same editorial and stated that “the recommendations ought to be atop the Legislature’s urgent priority list next January (the 1997 session).”

The 1997 Legislature passed the recommendations, but the Task Force on Family Law’s work was directed at reducing Oregon’s divorce rate, and did not address the issue of kidnappings.

At the conclusion of the 2003 session, Senate President Peter Courtney appointed the Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, which held hearings and reported its findings to the 2005 legislature.

Senate Bill 1041 (Aaron’s Law) passed the 2005 legislature in dramatic fashion, clearing the House on a unanimous vote in the final days of the session.

Today is National Missing Children Awareness Day

Governor Kulongoski Proclaims Missing Children Awareness Day in Oregon

Proclamation - Missing Children's Awareness Day 2007
Office of the Governor
State of Oregon

WHEREAS: May 25th has annually been declared "National Missing Children's Day" and
WHEREAS: there are more than 2,000 children reported missing every day; and
WHEREAS: more than 58,000 children are abducted by non-family members each year and
WHEREAS: Children represent our state's most valuable resource and greater public awareness can play a significant role in helping to reduce the number of missing children:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Theodore R. Kulongoski, Governor of the State of Oregon, do hereby proclaim May 25, 2007, as


in Oregon in recognition of every child's right to care and protection and join with others across the country in support of National Missing Children's Day. We must all strive to provide our children and the future of our state and nation, a healthy and happy living environment.

End Proclamation

Important facts about abducted children:

[] 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied, resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.

[] 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.

[] 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.

[] 115 children were the victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.

Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site, a 2002 U.S. Department of Justice report.

The United States of America honors the memory of Aaron A. Cruz

Several of the members of Aaron's Army National Guard Battalion spoke at his memorial service. They said that my son was an honorable man, respected by his comrades and superiors alike. They spoke of his love for the Guard and his dedication to his unit, and they all understood that Aaron had consciously and purposefully placed his loyalty above his own health, and had paid the price with his life.

In Memory of Aaron Cruz (March 21, 1982 to April 25, 2005)

My son Aaron died in Utah of medical neglect while under Army orders.
He apparently received no medical care for his seizure disorder after he left our home in Portland, under deployment orders for Iraq, to report to his Utah Army National Guard unit.
Two years after his death, the Department of Defense has still not complied with my request for my son's medical records, citing a "large backlog of requests."

Principles of Aaron's Law (2005 Oregon Child Abduction Law)

Aaron’s Law is premised on the finding by the 2003 Oregon Senate President’s Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions that child abduction is highly abusive to the child, and that this abuse occurs regardless of who abducts the child: “(Child abduction)…is extremely detrimental to the emotional and mental well being of the children, and at times may even put the life of the child in danger.”

Victims of child abduction by family members who appeared before the Task Force and who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee testified unanimously that the injuries caused by abduction were in fact severe and permanent.

Stated simply, child abduction—by any person—is child abuse.

Aaron’s Law (Senate Bill 1041 [2005]) seeks to address the problem in several ways:

1. By empowering the Court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem and a qualified mental health therapist to represent the interests of the child at the very outset of the case.

2. By requiring the parties to the case to attend counseling directed at informing the parties of the harm their conduct is inflicting on the children.

3. By encouraging the professional development of the bar, the courts and others through training and the dissemination of information regarding the issue of child abduction, particularly those abductions in which family members participate.

4. By authorizing the Court to award damages to the parties suffering harm.

5. By extending the statute of limitations and placing the statute in the context of the crime. Abduction is a continuing crime, not an event that occurred on a single day.

6. By providing to victims an avenue that is separate from the criminal system. In most cases, incarcerating a parent adds to the ongoing trauma suffered by the child victims.

7. By providing a means to fast-track an abduction case, shortening the time that a child is abducted.

Aaron’s Law has been in effect since October 2005, and we recognize several areas where the law could be amended and improved.

We also recognize that many participants in the system, including law enforcement, the courts and the bar, have not yet reached a level of awareness regarding child abduction where family members are involved that either affords the opportunity for Aaron’s Law to work effectively or that adequately addresses the suffering of the child victims.

A key problem with current law lies in determining when an abduction reaches the point where ORS Custodial Interference statutes apply. ORS requires an act “with intent to hold the other person (the victim) permanently or for a protracted period.”

There is no agreement on what “protracted” means. In a recent case handled by the Portland Police Bureau, the detective in charge was unsure that the definition of “protracted” had been reached although the children had been missing (along with their non-custodial mother) for nearly eight months.

Also, while Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to appoint legal and mental health advocates for the child victims, there is at present no cadre of such professionals who are knowledgeable about and/or experienced in the recovery of child abduction victims.

Amendments currently being drafted:

1. Define “protracted” for purposes of Aaron’s Law (SB1041) as 72 hours from the time the child or children have been reported missing to law enforcement.

2. Authorizes agency (Commission on Children and Families) to apply for grants for the purposes of training and deploying certain guardians ad litem and child mental health professionals as child recovery teams.

3. Directs the Court to select guardians ad litem and mental health professionals from this cadre.

Related Issues:

1. Local law enforcement agencies do not routinely or effectively provide reports of child abduction involving family members to the OSP Missing Children’s Clearinghouse. This needs to change.

Kidnapped Children Lose Educational Opportunities

In a recent post, I wrote about the terrible news I had just received, and here it is:

Last week, I learned that both of my sons dropped out of their Utah high school more than five years ago, that they both left school with academic GPAs of 0.00, and I am still reeling from the shock.

The people who kidnapped the Cruz children from Oregon and hid them in Utah, a group that included Mormon officials in three states, repeatedly represented to the courts that my children were receiving excellent educational opportunities while under their control and supervision. They were lying.

The multiple law firms they hired to deny me access to my children and to any information about my children all represented to the courts (four jurisdictions in three states) that the Cruz children were doing fine in Utah in all respects. The lawyers were insistent that the best place for my children was in their Utah schools. They were lying, too, as they were paid to do.

The five Guardians ad Litem appointed to the Cruz case (1 in SW Washington, 4 in Utah) had no problems and no concerns whatsoever regarding my children’s schooling in Utah. Their attention was focused on assuring the Court(s) that as long as the Cruz children were kept isolated in their Utah enclaves, the situation would be preferable to allowing them contact with anyone outside of those enclaves.

Working together, the church officials, the lawyers, and the people in their circles of influence, denied the Cruz children, year after year, school term after school term , an opportunity to achieve at minimum a high school education.

My children were raised in my home to be computer literate since 1988. After the divorce in 1991, I bought them computers for their own use in their mother’s home to maintain their literacy. My youngest child was literate from the age of four.

Yet, the Payson High school transcripts show that they all failed all of their computer classes, all three children.

The kidnappers denied my children access to computers, to email, to contact outside of the enclave, and that fact is reflected in my children’s grades.

Computers are essential to academic and career success, but they are also communication devices, and you can guess the rest of that story….

My children were taught in Utah to be hostile to computer technology, an attitude that would severely limit their educational and career options, a complete reversal of the head start I had been providing my children since 1988.

I learned on January 8, the first day of the 2007 legislative session, that my son Aaron’s 1997-1998 Payson High School report included 5 F’s and a D-, that his final year in school was 1999-2000, and those grades were all F’s.

On January 10, I learned that my son Tyler had also dropped out of his Utah high school at some point in the 1999-2000 school year, that his grades were all F’s.

Before they were taken to Utah, all four of my children were smart and adventurous. They were highly social and all on a college track.

Their kidnappers swore my children were doing fine in school, and that all was wholesome and healthy in their lives.

But the transcripts reveal how desperately unhappy my children were, and that that unhappiness endured year after year during the entire time they were concealed in Utah. The transcripts also reveal that my children received no help from the professionals charged with their wellbeing.

There was no one for my children to turn to, no one to help them with their schoolwork, no one to give them hope. Just a phalanx of lawyers and the church officials who swore the Cruz children were fine.

And—in Aaron’s case—they saw that he received a bottomless supply of psychoactive medication from the age of 15. He never had a chance.

In 2003, I went to court in Utah to ask the judge for my children’s school, medical and employment records, and for a list of their former addresses in Utah.

It was actually hard to find a judge to hear the case. The judge who the case was originally assigned to had been one of those lawyers shielding the courts from the truth.

I learned this fact about the judge moments before the case was to be heard. He greeted my children’s kidnapper warmly and personally from the bench, announced his conflict of interest, and then they had a mad scramble to find a neutral judge in this one-horse town, where they all belong to the same church.

This judge had direct knowledge of the physical and emotional abuse my children were suffering during the years of their mother’s marriage to Steve Nielson, because he was one of the divorce lawyers representing their mother, and he interviewed my children and took their affidavits alleging the abuse.

This judge had to have known about the school records, about the facts of the abduction, and all the other information that was sitting in his own damned files.

After a few hours, they found a judge who could pretend to be impartial, and he ruled that he wanted to take some time to think about the request for records, and there it lies today. I left Utah empty handed—again.

That is how the system works out there, in the state that leads the nation in child molestation.

The transcripts explain why they have fought so hard to maintain secrecy over the past eleven years.

In order to gain access to my son’s high school records, all I had to do was present a copy of his death certificate. In other words, Aaron had to die first.

Aaron died, in fact, just down the street from Payson High School.

The irrepressibly happy part of Aaron died a long time ago, the part that saw a bright future was snuffed out in Utah.

It’s right here in black and white. Academic GPA: 0.00

More on this later, to be sure.

I received some terrible news today

Heartbreaking news.

News that speaks directly to my son Aaron’s suffering as a result of the kidnapping.

How thoroughly they ruined my son's life.

The following information will help place the news in context:

Our 15-year marriage ended in 1991 with an Order for Joint Custody.

The Court found and stated in the Order that “Both parents are fit and proper to raise the couple’s children,” and it laid out a weekly residence schedule for the children, specifying the days and hours that the children would reside with each parent.

Over the five years that transpired between the setting of the Order for Joint Custody and the disappearance of the children, the result was a pattern where I saw my children an average of 180 days each year.

The Order for Joint Custody also specified how decisions would be made regarding issues of the children’s education, their health care and their religious upbringing.

“Both Parents Together,” the Order stated, would make those decisions.

My children’s lives were kept orderly and secure for five years under the protection of the Order for Joint Custody.

My children were all healthy, athletic, smart and beautiful. They were extraordinary children, each of them. They had character and ability and self-confidence. They were highly computer literate. They were all on a college track, there was no doubt about that. There was a magic to them.

The child stealing ring that formed to kidnap my children were apparently concerned about the decision-making function, particularly about how the religious upbringing was going to take place.

Although I did not stand in the way of my former wife taking the children to her church, I was not interested in joining in myself. I did not buy the doctrine they were peddling or the bunker mentality of many Mormon church members.

The child stealing ring determined among themselves that this was sufficient reason to cause the children to disappear. They wanted to firm up their control over the children and at the same time punish me for turning my back on their dogma.

The child stealing ring consisted of church officials in three states, some of whom acted in their official capacity in violating the Order for Joint Custody, and members of my former wife’s family.

David Holiday was a Bishop in a Hillsboro ward, and Evelyn Taylor was President of the Relief Society in Washington County. Both directly and personally influenced my children in their official church capacities and in their association with the LDS seminary program attended by my daughter. Holiday and Taylor were dirty up past their eyeballs in the pre-abduction planning. They knew months in advance.

My children vanished on Monday, February 12, 1996, a school day for those living normal lives.

But there were a number of people who knew very well where my children were, where they were headed, and why.

Donald Taylor was a Bishop in a ward in Southwest Washington. He wrote a letter dated March 2 supporting my children’s mother’s decision-making, and stating under penalty of perjury that my children “visit with their father one day a week.” His letter is signed “Donald D. Taylor, Bishop, La Center Ward, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” I have never met this man.

On March 2, 1996, I did not know where my children were, but this man did.

Also writing letters to the Court on March 2 were La Center Ward members Barry and Connie Dunford. I do not know these people, but they seem to know much about my children.

Kory Wright, a Mormon official in Utah, and his wife Chris Wright also wrote letters to the court dated March 2. They were in charge of arranging housing and employment on the Utah end of the kidnapping.

Kory Wright wrote this: “Because of the close relationship between our families we have tried to support Gina and the children throughout this ordeal….In the short period they have lived here the children have increased their circle of friends, been involved in numerous activities and made a home for themselves. The schools the children attend are among the best in the state of Utah. Gina has already secured employment and is looking at enhancing her earning opportunities. Clearly, the move here has been a tremendous benefit to both Gina and her children.”

The fact is that Kory Wright arranged for Gina to have work as a maid, and for my children to work after school helping her clean apartments.

Gina had quit her job in the Hillsboro High School library, where my daughter was about to graduate, and where Aaron would have been a student the following year, to take a job as a maid in Utah. In February. While school was still in session.

You know that makes no sense whatsoever.

On an affidavit dated March 4, 1996, Tony Micheletti stated: “My understanding of the current situation regarding my sister, Gina Frischknecht, and her former husband, Sean Cruz, is as follows: Sean is seeking to prevent Gina from remaining in the state of Utah on the grounds that it interferes with his joint custody of the couple’s four children….”

At the time these bastards wrote their letters, I could only guess that my children were in Utah. Yet here were people in three states who had knowledge of my children’s location and who understood that there was an order for joint custody.

Violating a lawful joint custody order by enticing, taking or keeping the children is a Class C felony in the state of Oregon. If you kidnap a child and either take the child out of the state or expose the child to physical harm, the crime moves up to a Class B felony.

This fact, the threat of possible criminal sanctions, supplied the only motivation these criminals needed to keep the Cruz children isolated and under control. Pure self-interest.

The statute of limitations on the kidnapping expired three years later, even though the children were still kidnapped.

I received some information today regarding Aaron that I initially wanted to write about, but I need another day or two to think about what I am going to say.

I’m posting this instead, which will help you understand the context of my next post.

Once, decisions were made by “Both Parents Together.” The children were healthy, happy, moving forward in their lives.

The information I will share next will illustrate the terrible price Aaron paid once the child stealing ring took over all decision making.

Death of an Oregon Kidnapper

I recently received a comment on BlogoliticalSean relating the death of Tony Micheletti, one of the people most deeply, shamefully and criminally involved in the abduction of the four Cruz children.

In this post, I am publishing the comment from Judith McKenney—who is a complete stranger to me—and my posted reply to her comment.

Now that I’ve had a week to think about things, I will add some additional comments at the end of the post.

Here’s the post from Judith McKenney:

"Judith McKenney said...

"I discovered your sight (sic) by accident, and just thought, before you make comments you will regret, that Tony Micheletti died, December 15th and 705PM of CJD a very very fast acting brain degenerative desease that robbed him of himself - not unlike Alzheimers's but 100X faster. He went from seemingly healthy to death in 2 months!I hope this information doesn't make you happy, or make you feel he has been punished for some transgression. I knew Tony fairly well, and, if he was guilty of what you assert, I am sure he truly believed he was doing the right thing for the children...and it is ONLY the children who are important! I haven't read your whole article, but in perusing it, I didn't notice where you stated your ex-wife's justification for doing this...she thought she was justified...why?"

Here’s my reply to Ms McKenney’s comment:

Judith McKenney:

I don't know why your comment posted on this thread. I think you were responding to a different post, one of the abduction-related postings, but it posted here. I'll respond to your comment here.

I have little information about any members of the Micheletti family since the kidnapping and had not heard of Tony Micheletti’s death. I had hoped to see him in court someday.

The harm he caused my children and my family is for forever.

My former wife was getting divorced from someone else when the Micheletti family and their friends and associates caused my children to disappear. There was no safety issue, and no allegations of abuse were made by any of the parties.

My children lost both of their homes, all of their friends, their neighborhood, their schools, their dad, their dad's entire family and their opportunities to live a normal life. Their grandmother passed away four years after the kidnapping without seeing or hearing from her grandchildren again.

The only two things that remained constant in their lives were the Micheletti family and the Mormon church, and every person involved in the kidnapping who was not a member of the Micheletti family was a member of the church.

This group of people decided that they wanted to raise my children in a Mormon-controlled environment, knew that the joint custody order was a barrier, and together they planned and carried out a criminal act: the abduction of four children, “…taken, enticed and kept” in violation of a valid joint custody order, a class “B” felony. This was the controlling motive, and they knew they were committing a crime.

That first criminal act led to others. They committed additional criminal acts to protect themselves from discovery.

Child abduction victims suffer emotional damage in the same ways that child sex abuse victims suffer, including an inability to form lasting relationships, to trust others.

My former wife is now with her fifth husband. My children are on their third stepdad, one stepdad for each of the three states they’ve resided in since the order for joint custody was first violated.

Among my adult children I can count one death, two broken marriages, severe depression, failing grades, chemical dependency and other problems and issues.

And the two constants: the Micheletti family and the Mormon church, the same group who decided to take my children out of their schools and put them on the road during the Great Storm of February 1996.

You suggested that Tony Micheletti thought he was doing the right thing for my children, and I want to respond to that:

Tony Micheletti didn’t know my children.

He was not close to my family in any way. I had not seen him in more than five years before the kidnapping, and neither had my children. Later, my son Aaron told me that when they saw “Uncle Tony” on February 12, the day my children disappeared, they did not recognize him.

He absolutely knew that they were taking the children in violation of a valid joint custody order, and I have that in his sworn statement. He also committed perjury, and I have that evidence too.

As I write this comment, the Northwest remains in the grip of major heavy weather. There are three climbers lost on Mt. Hood. A man died in southern Oregon earlier this week after his family became lost and stuck in the snow. Power is out in many areas, and people are in general trying to stay out of the weather and off of the roads.

This is precisely the same weather in which my four children disappeared nearly eleven years ago, and on a day they should have been in school. How do you justify that?

Additional Thoughts on Christmas Day 2006:

It was at “Uncle Tony’s” house near Salem, on the day the children disappeared, that they learned that they were going to Utah and not coming back. They had already been out of school for a week, bouncing from one place to another in Oregon and Washington, during the Great Storm of February 1996.

February 12 was the day they vanished, and they were at Tony Micheletti’s house near Salem that day, a school day.

He wasn’t concerned about the children’s safety in the weather or their absence from their schools. He wasn’t concerned about their elderly and frail grandmother, who was living with me at the time, or our three-generation household.

He didn’t know anything about the Cruz family, had never been to my house, had never been to his own sister’s house. My children had forgotten what he looked like.

So, to suggest that Tony Micheletti acted out of love for my children is a far, far stretch. The smug bastard was always convinced he was smarter than anyone else.

A few weeks after my kids had disappeared, Tony Micheletti was one of several co-kidnappers living in three states who wrote letters describing how wonderful my children’s new lives were at an undisclosed location in Utah.

The fact that there were people in three states who claimed in sworn statements to have a close relationship with my children’s circumstances at a time when I could only guess at their location has never been lost on me.

As if to demonstrate that criminals are never the sharpest pencils in the box, several co-kidnappers wrote sworn statements. The copies I eventually received even have the fax information printed at the top, and that tells a story too. You know that they never thought about faxes and a paper trail.

The story they tell is, basically, “Hey, we’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, all of us, all together. Not only that, we’re a bunch of liars and we’re going to write some lies down and swear they are true.”

Among the Oregon kidnappers, Evelyn Taylor and David Holiday of Hillsboro were smart enough not to put anything in writing, as far as I can tell.

Cynthia Anderson of Clatskanie also perjured herself, but that document didn’t surface for several years.

The really stupid, self-absorbed, most-criminal kidnappers were the now-dead Tony Micheletti, and Chris and Kory Wright in Utah, and they put it in writing.

I had hoped, hoped, hoped to get them all in a courtroom together.

They broke my children’s hearts, all four of them. And they did this knowing full well what they were doing. I will never forgive them for breaking my children’s hearts.

For that fact alone, as a parent, I admit that I have wanted to beat their faces in with a shovel.

They moved my children from one isolated Mormon enclave to another. My children—since 1995—were not permitted to leave the state of Utah except under direct control by Mormon church members. And this is America.

Aaron, after a serious beating, attempted to run away from one of those enclaves. The local police found him hitchhiking in the mountains in the middle of the night and took him back to his mother and stepdad #2, who had administered the beating.

You can really count on those Utah police.

Here’s what I have to say at this time about Tony Micheletti:

Child abduction—by any person—is child abuse. I’m talking to you, Tony.

More on this later, to be sure….

Walking 1000 miles to find my kids

In 2002, I decided to attempt to walk from Portland to Utah.

I had fought unsuccessfully in the courts through four jurisdictions in three states, trying to locate and establish contact with my children against the unlimited legal resources of the child abduction ring that had taken them.

They had hired more than a dozen lawyers at one time or another and six years had gone by since my kids had disappeared.

At every point where contact with my children could be achieved—short visits supervised by associates of the very people who had abducted them—the kids were intimidated into silence. Their demeanors were wooden, and they were shadowed by people taking notes and reporting on what was said, on what transpired. There would be a penalty for appearing happy to see me.

These sessions were so tortuous to my children and myself that I stopped fighting for visits in the courts. I didn’t want to see my children ripped in half like that.

But I could not do nothing. One day, I decided to walk to Utah, hoping to send a message to my children that I had not forgotten them, that they were still my number one priority.

I had no illusions about actually seeing my children, but I wanted to send a message that was clear—I’m your father and I love you this much.

My plan was fairly simple. I would walk fifteen miles a day and sleep by the side of the road. I would leave in late Spring, avoiding the cold of winter and the heat of summer. That was pretty much the plan.

I made a banner to wear on the back of my pack, to let people know I was walking, not hitchhiking.

I decided to start the walk on the courthouse steps in Vancouver, Washington, where I fought in court for the first two and half years of the abduction. From the beginning, the walk was intended to be symbolic.

In upcoming posts, I will write the story of this walk. I took some pictures along the way. I’ll post those, too.

Walking--Oregon to Utah--to find my kids

A man works through loss for others' gain

This column by S. Renee Mitchell appeared in the Oregonian on October 24, 2005. (my comments are appended at the end)

It took almost 10 years, but Sean Cruz has finally learned to live with his unrelenting heartbreak.

He's sleeping more at night. The bouts of depression are as familiar as a friend, but thoughts of suicide don't visit as often.

"When your child is gone, every minute is impossible," Cruz says. "You're trying to get through the day. You can't sleep. Your food has no taste . . . Whatever was going on, I just couldn't deal with it."

On Feb. 12, 1996 -- in the middle of a winter storm -- Cruz's ex-wife took his four children, ages 8 to 17, and shuttled them through family homes in different states before ending up in Utah.

Cruz, who has joint custody, contacted police, who couldn't help. He hired lawyers he couldn't afford. And he regularly sent lengthy e-mails to people like me who saw his name and pushed the delete button.

"You assume that people are going to hear you when you say, 'My child was abducted,' " says Cruz, an aide to Sen. Avel Gordly. "But the word 'abduction' or 'kidnapping' seems to make people uncomfortable."

Cruz couldn't get regular access to his children until 2003, when his oldest son, Aaron, who was fighting a meth addiction, moved to Portland. (see correction, below)

After three months, though, the 21-year-old returned to Utah, hoping to be reunited with his younger brother, who is on his second tour in Iraq. But Aaron, who suffered from insomnia, depression and anxiety, was too sick.

In late April of this year, Aaron slipped into a coma and died. After the funeral, Cruz says, his daughters, now ages 26 and 17, stopped returning his phone calls. Cruz hasn't heard from his other son, age 21, for two months.

"It's like the kids got swallowed up again," says Cruz, whose laugh lines have been widened by years of worry and regret.

Without his children, Cruz's focus became fighting parental abductions. He persuaded Gordly to push legislation -- called "Aaron's Law" -- that gives families tools to punish parents for the crime of child abduction. The House, led by Rep. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas, unanimously approved the bill in the last week of the session.

"Aaron's Law" lets the courts appoint legal and mental health advocates for any minor children, even before a criminal or family law case goes to court. Aaron's Law also permits any adult or child to sue for financial damages against any person who interferes with a court's custody order.

The law -- which had at least 10 revisions before final passage -- recognizes that abducting a child is abusive. Children are traumatized when they suddenly lose access to everything that's familiar, says Liss Hart-Haviv, of Take Root, a Portland-based nonprofit that advocates for abducted children (

"The loss and the grief that the child experiences is really difficult to get your mind around," Hart-Haviv says. "It doesn't really matter who takes you or what their motivations are, it's still the experience of being abducted."

Aaron's Law also is leading to a statewide symposium where Oregon can create a systematic approach to preventing child abduction. It also includes training to encourage law enforcement officials to take the crime seriously. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 200,000 children each year are kidnapped by a parent or family member.

"This is a story of how the process can work," Gordly says. "Sean put his heart and soul, everything he had, into not just the bill but educating me and educating other legislators about the damage that happens to children who are abducted."

Although Aaron's Law will help other parents, Cruz's suffering will probably never end. He can never recapture all that he has forever lost. And his troubled mind can't seem to find complete peace -- even when he sleeps.

"I mourn Aaron's death," Cruz says. "But I also mourn the last 10 years of his life. I just can't imagine that."

Sean's comments: Aaron wasn’t fighting a meth addiction. He was in a methadone program, fighting an opiate addiction that originated with the heavy medication he was prescribed after he was taken to Utah. Before he was taken, Aaron was completely healthy. Afterwards, however, he suffered from major clinical depression, chronic insomnia and severe anxiety.

From the age of 15, the adults surounding him in Utah dosed him with Ritalin, Alderol, Prozac, Zoloft, Xanax, Oxycontin and other drugs ( I have not been able to gain access to his complete medical records yet). At the time of his death, Aaron had been medicated continuously for nearly the entire time since he was taken from Oregon. It is common for abducted children to lose access to medical care. In Aaron's case, the medical providers appear to be linked to the church leaders involved in his abduction.

He put himself in a methadone program, trying to regain control of his life, in 2003. He told me that his dream was to work at my side in the legislature. That was my dream as well.

He was undergoing medical tests here in Portland, where we were trying to gain an understanding of his physical and mental health problems, which included a serious thyroid problem and the seizure disorder which led to his death, when he received orders to report to Utah for deployment to Iraq.

Despite a life-threatening condition, Aaron left unhesitatingly for Utah to join his brother for deployment (Army National Guard). He came downstairs as soon as he received notice of the orders and said, "Dad, I'm going to join my unit. I've got to look after my brother."

A few days later, on Thanksgiving 2003, I watched him pack, and the next day he was gone.

When he left my home, his access to competent health care ended.

It is also incorrect to state that the children were taken by my ex-wife. It was a child-stealing ring motivated by extreme bigotry that enticed, tricked, took and kept the children. And it was in their interests that Aaron was kept quiet and under control through medication and indoctrination. The known members are named in earlier posts to this blog.

postscript: Aaron refused to accept the severity of his illness and never gave up trying to join his brother. He believed he could get well in Iraq if he was given a chance. Shortly before he was stricken, Aaron called me and said, "Dad, I'm going to Iraq. I'm joining the Marines. They're looking for people just like me."

And he was right, the Marines do look for people just like him: courageous, selfless, ready to serve and never--ever--willing to give up.

It runs in the family.

Open letter to an interstate child stealing ring

To Evelyn Taylor, David Holiday, Tony Micheletti (Oregon), Chris and Kory Wright, Steve Nielson, (Utah), et al:

You kidnapped my children from their home with their grandmother and I near Hillsboro, Oregon and took them to a series of locations in at least three states.

You took them out of their schools and put them directly into danger, stripping them of friends, family and home in the process. It was a deliberate, evil act.

You used your positions of authority in your church to control them and burden them with conflicts you would never have visited on people you love. Let us be clear—you did not do this out of love.

The conflict left Aaron scarred physically and emotionally, and his blood is on your hands, each of you.

You forced four innocent children to reject their own family because you needed them to cover your guilty, criminal asses. And you still do, nearly eleven years later.

Your criminal conspiracy continues…you continue to bleed this family of time, money, opportunity, and in Aaron’s case of life itself….

Now you have hired lawyers whose sole job is to stand between my son’s medical and school records and me.

I cannot compete with your financial resources. That is no secret. You can hire lawyers for years and years, as you already have, and I can do little about it.

But I can write and publish the truth, and you will have to deal with that.

Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has run on your crimes, so none of you are facing prison time. None of you are facing the criminal sanctions you so richly deserve. I hope you are driven out of your homes with pitchforks and shovels.

Your debt to the Cruz family—and to society—is as permanent as the damage you have inflicted. You deserve every piece of bad news coming your way.

The passage of Aaron’s Law (Senate Bill 1041) does bring an element of justice, although each of you are exempt from its reach due to the statute of limitations, but it does not bring closure. Closure will only occur when the Cruz family is reunited, and not one day before.

Tony Micheletti—you impotent slab of lard—you will be the subject of Open Letter, pt.2, coming soon.

Aftermath of a child abduction

With Aaron on the carousel

My baby girl is in the pink coat.

Abducted by parents, children become the forgotten victims

from The Oregonian, Margie Boule, June 4, 2006

Abducted by parents, children become the forgotten victims

Even today, 29 years after she was abducted and lived in hiding with her mother, she sometimes can't figure out who she really is.

Is she Liss Hart-Haviv, who lives in Kalama, Wash., and heads up a well-respected national organization for adults who were abducted as children?

Or is she Missy Sokolsky, who grew up in an affluent family on Manhattan's Upper West Side, attending private schools, taking ballet, piano and riding lessons?

Or is she Melissa Hart, who spent part of grade school living in a single room with her mother in a rundown neighborhood in San Diego, surviving on charity food, learning to lie and being afraid of anyone in a uniform?

Liss admits she hasn't yet recovered from the sudden, dramatic disappearing act her mother forced upon her when she was 11 years old. "I spent part of my childhood on the run from a parent," she says. "Then I spent the rest of my life on the run from my childhood."

This story may change the way you look at child abduction. Maybe you see it as a simple child custody issue. Or maybe you remember the devastated parents on TV shows. But almost nobody thinks about what the abducted child is going through, according to Liss and other survivors of abduction who've created Take Root, an organization to provide support and advocacy for abductees.

After what Liss refers to as the "hug and go" reunions in front of cameras, with cheering relatives engulfing the returned child --nobody thinks about what the child goes through after being returned to left-behind family members who've become strangers.

Often when Liss talks about the little girl she was before she was abducted, she uses the third person. She doesn't say "I loved my father." She says, "Missy loved her father." It's as if Missy died the day her mother took her away.

She was born in New York, "the daughter of an attorney and a Southern homecoming queen." Her parents divorced when Missy was 3. She lived with her mother, but her father always was around.

Unfortunately, he was a troubled man. "He was an alcoholic with emotional problems," Liss says. "He was very wealthy and powerful and obsessed with my mother. He really made her life a living hell." Liss says her dad "called the apartment 30 or 40 times a day. When her mom didn't pick up, he'd come and pound on the door in the middle of the night.

"And he'd withhold child support. The courtroom was his playground, a way to see my mother if she was constantly in court over child support or alimony."

When Liss was 9, her mother snatched her and ran to Florida. Liss' father hired detectives, and snatched Liss back. On the way back to New York, her father took a two-week detour to New Orleans. With uncombed hair, wearing the same dress, Liss sat in bars while her dad partied.

"He was not equipped to raise a 9-year-old girl," Liss says.

A few months later, her mother snatched her again.

"That was the end of Venetia and Missy Sokolsky," says Liss. "From that day forward those two people ceased to exist. And on the other side of the country, in San Diego, Sharon and Melissa Hart appeared out of thin air. . . . She changed our identities."

They had no contact with anyone they'd known before. Liss left behind friends, relatives, toys, pets and her father. She was told her father would hurt her mother if he found them. "It was a life of hiding and terror."

Liss believes her mother "really had my best interests at heart." But no matter what the parent's motivation, Liss and other former abductees believe abduction is not the answer. "A child taken into isolation with a distressed caretaker is never in a safe situation, no matter what the parent's intentions," Liss says

Take Root would not exist if Liss hadn't heard the term "child abduction" on a radio show. She went home, did an Internet search and discovered she was far from alone. "Over 200,000 children are abducted by a family member or parent every year," she says. The realization "unlocked the strongbox I had stuffed everything into; all the grief from that moment of abduction, when Missy Sokolsky disappeared. I wept and wept."

She realized she needed help. But every agency she could find was created to aid parents of missing children. "The parents were perceived as the victims, not the children. . . . There were no mental health professionals with expertise on long-term impact. No research has been done. Finally, in utter frustration, I called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. I said, 'With a name like that, how can you have nothing for the missing children?' And their response was, 'You are exactly right.' "

The organization funded a meeting of nine adults who'd been abducted by parents when they were children. They met in Alexandria, Va., in 2001. Before the meeting, "I was somewhat skeptical that we really had common ground," Liss says.

She was wrong. All had felt alone. All had struggled after their "recovery." And all continued to be scarred by the abductions.

Liss' father found Liss and her mother after two years in California. But by then her father had "really gone over the edge." He'd "lost his job, and done nothing but drink and obsessively look for us." He knew he was in no condition to raise her, Liss says. So she stayed in California, occasionally visiting her dad in New York.

The visits were rocky. Liss, who kept the name Melissa Hart, wanted to talk about her new life. Her father wanted back the child who'd left, but she didn't exist anymore. "Conversations with him were all about his devastation and attacks on my mom."

Today Liss' relationship with her mother is "a work in progress," Liss says. When Liss points out there were other ways her mother could have handled her father's obsessive behavior without abducting Liss, "she gets defensive and explodes," Liss says.

Unfortunately, Liss wasn't able to mend her relationship with her father before he died. But she's forgiven him, "because he's not the one who created, for me, the real trauma, which was the loss of Missy Sokolsky."

After difficult teen years, Liss pulled her life together and graduated as valedictorian at University of California, Berkeley. As head of Take Root, she's testified before Congress and appeared in the national media.

Take Root ( already has changed a lot of people's perspectives about the world of missing children. Groups that once only created search plans now are considering recovery plans for abducted children.

Take Root has created protocols for police, mental health professionals and reuniting families to help returning children integrate their different identities.

"We want to build something constructive out of our experiences," Liss says. "We want to transform victims to victors."

Contact Margie Boule: 503-221-8450,

Aaron's Law explained

I can tell you from personal experience that one of the many barriers one encounters in getting law enforcement, the courts, the lawyers and the general public to understand the seriousness of these crimes lies in the term itself, “custodial interference.”

Custodial interference just doesn’t sound like a serious crime, and people in general mentally lump these offenses into a broad category of custody issues.

But child abduction by any person is a felony in this state. It is a crime with irreversible consequences, and the children and other victims suffer irreparable harm. These are known facts, beyond what common sense and simple human decency call for.

It is also important to distinguish kidnapping offenses from most other crimes in that they are continuing crimes; that is, the crime does not occur as a discrete event. Your children are just as kidnapped on the last day of the abduction as they were on the first, maybe even more so when you consider the damage to their lives.

Under the section titled “KIDNAPPING AND RELATED OFFENSES,’ Oregon statutes classify non-stranger abductions as “custodial interference in the first degree” or “custodial interference in the second degree.”

Here is the text of the statue, further explanation appearing below (emphasis added for clarity):

163.245 Custodial interference in the second degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the second degree if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person takes, entices or keeps another person from the other person’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order with intent to hold the other person permanently or for a protracted period.
(2) Expenses incurred by a lawful custodial parent or a parent enforcing a valid joint custody order in locating and regaining physical custody of the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of this section are “economic damages” for purposes of restitution under ORS 137.103 to 137.109.
(3) Custodial interference in the second degree is a Class C felony.

163.257 Custodial interference in the first degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the first degree if the person violates ORS 163.245 and:
(a) Causes the person taken, enticed or kept from the lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order to be removed from the state; or
(b) Exposes that person to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.
(2) Expenses incurred by a lawful custodial parent or a parent enforcing a valid joint custody order in locating and regaining physical custody of the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of this section are “economic damages” for purposes of restitution under ORS 137.103 to 137.109.
(3) Custodial interference in the first degree is a Class B felony.

In the case of the Cruz family abduction, my children were in fact enticed, taken and kept in violation of a valid joint custody order that had been in effect for five years. My children were also exposed “to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.”

The state of Oregon, through the work of the 2003 Senate President’s Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, is rapidly gaining awareness that the statutory language is inadequate to describe the actual harm that abductions, even if committed by a parent and even if for a short duration, do to all such children.

These crimes cannot be unwound without additional, continuing harm to the children, and therefore the best solution is to prevent non-stranger abductions from occurring in the first place. That is the intent of Aaron’s Law, to act as an effective deterrent.

For more information on the harm family abduction inflicts on children, please see No one can explain this better than members of Take Root, all adults who were abducted as children by family members.

My former wife entrusted the care of my children to members of her church congregation, and it was these people who violated that trust relationship and enticed, took and kept my children in violation of the valid joint custody order.

More specifically, they took my children out of their schools in Hillsboro, Oregon and caused them to disappear on February 12, 1996 when the entire Northwest was in the middle of the Great Storm of 1996. By any definition, that act alone exposed my children “to a substantial risk of illness or injury.”

And you can bet that they kept their own children safe at home while they sent mine out on the road, bouncing from place to place, out of school.

The participants in the abduction were all members of the same church, from congregations in Oregon, Washington and Utah.

In Hillsboro, the chief culprits were David Holliday, a Mormon bishop, and Evelyn Taylor, the female equivalent of a Mormon bishop. Both used their church offices to commit or facilitate these crimes. Neither were ever charged or disciplined or investigated.

Two members of my former wife’s family, Tony Micheletti (Salem) and Cindy Anderson (Rainer), both participated in the abduction. Both also committed crimes of perjury and making false sworn statements. Neither were ever charged or investigated.

In Washington, Donald Taylor, a Mormon bishop in Battle Ground, used his church office to facilitate the kidnapping, and two church associates, Barry and Connie Dunford, also of Battle Ground, participated. None were charged or investigated.

In Utah, the central figures were Kory and Chris Wright, both Mormon officials who made the arrangements to hide the children in rural areas of the state. Neither were charged or investigated.

Steve Nielson, stepdad #2, also of Utah, played an unknown role in the early stages of the abduction, but clearly and actively “kept” my children in violation of the valid joint custody order. He also committed multiple acts of assault against my former wife, two of my children and even one of their friends (these crimes, including aggravated assault, were described in affidavits entered into the subsequent divorce proceeding), but no one ever called the police. He also committed the crimes of perjury and making false sworn statements. He also was never charged or investigated.

The valid joint custody order that protected my children, that kept their lives orderly and secure vanished in an instant, a worthless piece of paper.

Aaron’s Law is designed to act as a deterrent to non-stranger child abduction in several ways:

Aaron’s Law puts the interest of the child victim(s) first and foremost, and among the first things that need to happen in an abduction is for the abduction to end now!

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to assign a qualified mental health professional and a guardian ad litem to act in the interest of the child victim at the very outset of the case, before any other findings or procedures. This element is intended to protect the children from manipulation by any party.

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to charge the cost of these professional child advocates to the parties as the court sees fit. If you create the problem, you can expect to pay for it, starting here.

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to send the parties (separately) to counseling directed at educating the parties to the harm their conduct is causing the children, and assess the cost of said counseling as the court sees fit. The court is authorized to do so at the outset of the case, again, to protect the children from manipulation.

These clauses are also designed to discourage frivolous suits or cases filed to harass another party.

Aaron’s Law creates civil liability for all parties to an abduction. If you want to abduct a child you are related to or otherwise acquainted with, be prepared to forfeit your house and other property. In other words, it had better be worth the risk.

None of the people who participated in the Cruz family abduction would have done so if it would have cost them some money.

The statute of limitations on criminal custodial interference, believe it or not, is only three years. The statute does not take into account either the continuing nature of the offense or the fact that many abductions last longer—much longer—than three years.

Aaron’s Law addresses both of these weaknesses, although only in civil cases filed under Aaron’s Law. The criminal statute is unchanged.

Aaron’s Law creates a civil action that is effective for up to six years after the child victim reaches the age of 18. This clause recognizes that children who suffer abduction are harmed in ways similar to that of sexual abuse, and it may take some time after the child victim reaches the age of 18 to understand and personally deal with what has happened in the child’s life. Again, see for information on the extent of harm.

In other words, if you abduct a 4-year-old child, under Aaron’s Law, you own a civil liability until that child is 24 years old. It had better be worth it to you.

Aaron’s Law, finally, is designed to ensure that the courts, the bar, law enforcement and the general public are better informed and better able to handle these cases. That may be the most effective deterrent of all.

Aaron Cruz

Justice is coming to a courthouse near YOU!

Sometimes justice never comes, sometimes it takes ten years or more.

A decade after Aaron and my other three children were abducted from their homes in Oregon and sent out on the road in the middle of the Great Storm of 1996, justice is well on its way.

On April 7 and 8, 2006, the Oregon Judicial Department and the State Family Law Advisory Committee held its 4th annual family law conference in Bend, Oregon.

Co-sponsored by the Oregon State Bar and the Juvenile Court Improvement Project, the conference was attended by judges, court administrators and family law attorneys from across the state.

These conferences are an essential part of the ongoing training and certification programs for the bench, the bar and for administrators. Aaron's Law was featured at this conference, and its 360-page resource guide is now a permanent part of the bar's continuing education program. In short, everyone in the court system is going to see this.

Workshop #6, "Encountering Family Abductions in the Legal Setting", is described in the guide as follows: "This workshop will offer information about family abductions, including international abductions and the Hague convention, prosecution of custodial interference, and statutory approaches to preventing and dealing with abduction cases including the new Aaron's Law (SB 1041, Ch 841, Oregon Laws 2005).

The panel presenting the workshop included a psychologist who testified to the devastating effects abductions have on the child victims (Aaron is proof), a Marion County judge who testified to the fact that virtually all abductors claim that they are fleeing from abuse of some sort, and two family law attorneys who are taking leadership roles in educating the bar and the public to the problem and devising solutions.

The workshop also covered cult abductions. People abduct their own children for any number of reasons, but the most common reason that people abduct other people's children (children that they know personally and exert influence over) is related to membership in some sort of religious group.

All of the people who participated in abducting the Cruz children were members of the same church group. Those people committed Class B and Class C felonies, as the workshop material clarifies.

Aaron's Law is landmark legislation, first in the nation, and many of the people working on the issue are working across state lines.

Coming to a courthouse near you, Evelyn Taylor (Hillsboro, Oregon), David Holliday (Hillsboro), Tony Micheletti (Salem), Cynthia Anderson (Rainier) will be the first application of Aaron's Law.
Since Aaron's Law applies if a minor child is "enticed, taken or kept" out of the state of Oregon, the law will reach to the states where kidnapped children are being held.

So to Chris and Kory Wright, Steve Nielson, and the rest of the Utah abduction team--justice is coming to you bastards too.

You will all have the opportunity to explain in public why you put the Cruz children at risk in that storm, and why you chose to knowingly violate the lawful joint custody order that kept my children safe and their lives orderly and secure.

If only Aaron was alive to see it.

Text of Aaron's Law

Senate Bill 1041 (AARON’S LAW)
Sponsored by Senator Avel Louise Gordly

(now Chapter 841 Oregon Revised Statutes)
(note: ORS 163.257(1)(a) is the crime of Custodial Interference in the First Degree, a Class B felony)

AN ACT Relating to custodial interference; and declaring an emergency.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1. (1) Any of the following persons may bring a civil action to secure damages against any and all persons whose actions are unlawful under ORS 163.257 (1)(a):

(a) A person who is 18 years of age or older and who has been taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a); or
(b) A person whose custodial rights have been interfered with if, by reason of the interference: (A) The person has reasonably and in good faith reported a person missing to any city, county or state police agency; or (B) A defendant in the action has been charged with a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

(2) An entry of judgment or a certified copy of a judgment against the defendant for a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is prima facie evidence of liability if the plaintiff was injured by the defendant¢s unlawful action under the conviction.

(3)(a) For purposes of this section, a public or private entity that provides counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence is not considered to have violated ORS 163.257 (1)(a) if the entity provides counseling or shelter services to a person who violates ORS 163.257 (1)(a).
(b) As used in this subsection, “victim of domestic violence” means an individual against whom domestic violence, as defined in ORS 135.230, 181.610, 411.117 or 657.176, has been committed.

(4) Bringing an action under this section does not prevent the prosecution of any criminal action under ORS 163.257.

(5) A person bringing an action under this section must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) has occurred.

(6) It is an affirmative defense to civil liability for an action under this section that the defendant reasonably and in good faith believed that the defendant¢s violation of ORS 163.257(1)(a) was necessary to preserve the physical safety of: (a) The defendant; (b) The person who was taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a); or (c) The parent or guardian of the person who was taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

(7)(a) If the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is under 18 years of age at the time an action is brought under this section, the court may: (A) Appoint an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Oregon to act as guardian ad litem for the person; and (B) Appoint one of the following persons to provide counseling services to the person:
(i) A psychiatrist.
(ii) A psychologist licensed under ORS 675.010 to 675.150.
(iii) A clinical social worker licensed under ORS 675.510 to 675.600.
(iv) A professional counselor or marriage and family therapist licensed under ORS 675.715.
(b) The court may assess against the parties all costs of the attorney or person providing counseling services appointed under this subsection.

(8) If an action is brought under this section by a person described under subsection (1)(b) of this section and a party shows good cause that it is appropriate to do so, the court may order the parties to obtain counseling directed toward educating the parties on the impact that the parties' conflict has on the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a). The court may assess against the parties all costs of obtaining counseling ordered under this subsection.

(9) Upon prevailing in an action under this section, the plaintiff may recover: (a) Special and general damages, including damages for emotional distress; and (b) Punitive damages.

(10) The court may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in an action under this section.

(11)(a) Notwithstanding ORS 12.110, 12.115, 12.117 or 12.160, an action under this section must be commenced within six years after the violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a). An action under this section accruing while the person who is entitled to bring the action is under 18 years of age must be commenced not more than six years after that person attains 18 years of age.
(b) The period of limitation does not run during any time when the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is removed from this state as a result of the defendant's actions in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

SECTION 2. Section 1 of this 2005 Act applies to causes of action arising on or after the effective date of this 2005 Act.

SECTION 3. This 2005 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2005 Act takes effect on its passage.

Passed by Senate August 1, 2005
Passed by House August 3, 2005
Approved by Governor: October 13, 2005
Filed in Office of Secretary of State:

Aaron’s Law may apply to any Oregon child abduction occurring after the date the Governor signed the bill into law.

Governor Kulongoski signed Aaron's Law in 2005