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February 10, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Martin Brodkin, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication April 19, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Allowed June 2, 1994. As Corrected October 18, 1994.

Cahill, Johnson, Hoffman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cahill

PRESIDING JUSTICE CAHILL delivered the opinion of the court:

We review the fourth consecutive order finding O.D. Shephard in contempt and incarcerating him for failure to return his daughter Deborah Sanders to her mother Norell Sanders.

In 1987 Norell Sanders petitioned the court for an order of protection against Shephard pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 2311-1 et seq.). The court granted the order of protection and ordered Shephard to appear in court with the minor child. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 2312-14(b)(7), (now 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(7) (West 1992)).) When Shephard appeared in court without Deborah the court found him in contempt and ordered him jailed until he complied with the order. Shephard remains at the Cook County House of Corrections because the court continues to find he is able to produce the child and the incarceration has not lost its coercive effect.

Here is the history of the case. On September 18, 1986, Shephard was convicted of abducting his child, Deborah, from her mother, Norell Sanders. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 10-5(b)(3).) He was sentenced to a maximum three year prison term. Shortly after Shephard was paroled in October 1987, Sanders filed an ex parte petition for an order of protection under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. Sanders also petitioned that Shephard be required to produce Deborah under section 214(b)(7) of the Act.

On November 19, 1987, the court held a hearing at which Sanders presented evidence to show Shephard had the ability to produce Deborah. Six witnesses testified.

Sanders testified that Shephard telephoned her on September 27, 1984, and said he was going to take their two-year old daughter Deborah where Sanders would never see her again. She testified that Shephard came over to her apartment, they struggled over the child, and then Shephard left with Deborah. A few days later Shephard telephoned Sanders and said he was not going to return Deborah and if Sanders called the police she would see Deborah in a pine box. Sanders said Shephard telephoned on October 1, 1984, and threatened to kill her and Deborah because the police were questioning his family. On October 18, 1984, when Shephard telephoned, he allowed Deborah to speak with Sanders. Shephard telephoned again at the end of October and told Sanders he abandoned Deborah in Arkansas or Memphis. When Shephard telephoned again in November 1984, he asked Sanders to pay him $2,000 to return Deborah to her safely. Sanders said that she did not see Shephard again until July 1985 when she was a witness at his trial for child abduction. She further testified that Shephard never returned Deborah to her and that she had not seen Deborah since September 27, 1984.

Mary Ruth, Sanders' cousin, testified that she was at Sanders' apartment almost every day since September 1984 and had not seen Deborah since then.

Hope Sanders testified that she was 14, lived with her mother Norell Sanders, and had not seen Deborah since the day she was taken.

O.D. Shephard testified that he was Deborah's father and the last time he saw Deborah was December 1984, when he "gave her back to her mother." He did not know Deborah's present whereabouts.

In rebuttal, Sanders called two witnesses. Frank McCall, a youth officer with the Chicago Police Department, testified that he began investigating Deborah's whereabouts in July 1985. The investigation revealed that Shephard's sister, his girl friend, and his mother each said they saw Deborah in a car with Shephard after a family funeral in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 1984. No one has seen Deborah since that date.

Glenna Sparks, a trooper with the Illinois State Police, testified that she was assigned to the child abuse division, and had investigated the case since December 1986. She went to Sanders' apartment four times and did not see Deborah or any evidence that a child Deborah's age was living in the apartment. Sparks determined that Deborah's social security number had not been used anywhere in the nation. She also testified that missing person posters, with a picture of Deborah on them, were distributed to public schools in Illinois. The ...

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