Attorneys respond to lawsuit claims in Veronica case

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The war of words rages on between the adoptive couple of a 4-year-old girl caught up in a years long custody battle and her biological father.

Attorneys for Matt and Melanie Capobianco responded to statements made by opposing counsel last week that argued that Dusten Brown, Veronica's biological father, had no legal duty to comply with a Charleston family court judge's order to hand over the girl.

However, dismissal of that order has become the focus of the last week as contempt proceedings were started. However, who started those proceedings is a point of contention between the two sides.{}

Shannon Jones, Brown's Charleston attorney, has said that the contempt hearings were triggered by the Capobiancos. But the attorneys for the Capobiancos say the family court judge who ordered the handover started the contempt proceedings.

But the attorneys said they are seeking to recoup expenses incurred as a result of the delayed handover.

"It is indefensible and dangerous for any lawyer to suggest that a biological parent may ignore a court custody order with impunity simply because he has not yet exhausted all possible appeals or other court challenges," said attorneys for the Capobiancos late Monday night.

The adoptive couple's attorneys pointed to the initial handover of Veronica in 2011 after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a federal law protecting American Indian families took precedence over the adoption proceedings in South Carolina.

"They followed the rule of law, despite their pending appeals and their total devastation at having to hand over their daughter to a biological father Veronica didn't know a man who had abandoned Veronica before birth and who testified that he wanted nothing to do with her so long as her birth mother took complete responsibility for her," the statement from the Capobiancos' attorneys read.

"Mr. Brown's conduct in flouting South Carolina's legal system was particularly egregious because he had physical custody of Veronica only because of an order, later determined to be erroneous, of the South Carolina court."

It's been a week since Veronica has been in the custody of the Capobiancos.

Last Monday, Brown surrendered the girl to Cherokee Nation marshals and Cherokee County deputies who took Veronica several blocks away to the waiting couple.

The handover came after a week of mediation talks behind closed doors in Tulsa. When a deal could not be reached, the talks stalled and a stay preventing the handover was lifted. A gag order has prevented a flood of information in the case.

Since taking custody of Veronica, the Capobiancos have not returned to their James Island home and have only released one photo of the couple with their adopted daughter since the exchange.