Family court hearing in Veronica case set for Wednesday

The Capobiancos with Veronica prior to her removal from their home. (Source: Jessica Munday)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A family court judge in Charleston will determine the next course of action in the Baby Veronica case on Wednesday afternoon, according to the clerk of courts office.

The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected a rehearing last week by Dusten Brown, Veronica's biological father, calling instead for the quick transfer of the girl to her adoptive family, Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

The Capobiancos' spokeswoman Jessica Munday said Brown's attorneys are criticizing the plan laid out by the Capobiancos to make an easy transition for Veronica into their James Island home.

"Created by an expert in the field, that plan seeks to make it as easy as possible for Veronica to be reunited with her family. But the bottom line is that Matt and Melanie will abide by whatever terms the family court believes are necessary to ensure that her interests are protected during this sensitive time. The need for some transition period should be obvious to anyone who has ever parented a child, whether temporarily or not," Munday said.

She goes on to describe Veronica's removal from the Capobiancos' home 18 months ago as being like cattle herded into a truck and driven away.

"It is of course distressing to all of us, including Veronica's birth mother, that throughout this period, and even to this day, the Brown family has repeatedly refused simple requests for any type of visitation,"Munday said. "And of course that has prevented anyone involved in developing the transition plan from actually meeting Veronica."

The fight between the Capobiancos, a James Island family, and the Cherokee Nation has lasted nearly four years. Brown, who is 2 percent Cherokee, used the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to take custody of Veronica.

After taking the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled that the use of ICWA was done incorrectly, the case was sent back to South Carolina to be finalized. The high court ruled that ICWA did not apply in the case because of Brown's decision to give up his rights.

A rehearing was rejected on Brown's part, even though the Cherokee Nation claims to have granted temporary custody to Brown's family.

Now the family court will hear Wednesday and decide what is in the best interests of Veronica, staying with Brown and the Cherokee Nation, a group she has spent the last 18 months, or with the Capobiancos, with whom she spent the first two years of her life.

Court filings show that the Capobiancos have been the only family to petition the court for Veronica's adoption.

"Matt and Melanie have even offered quite generously to allow Brown and his family to remain a part of Veronica's life - something that they are offering to do as a matter of grace. Obviously, any continued relationship with Mr. Brown would have to be built on mutual trust. I truly hope that nothing that, because I know that Matt and Melanie want to keep everyone who loves Veronica involved in her life," Munday said.

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