OKLAHOMA – The fight to win back custody of her daughter has not stopped for one Oklahoma mother.
In June, an Oklahoma County judge made a decision that shocked many Oklahomans after he awarded sole custody of a child to her father, Nicholas Elizondo, who was also a convicted sex offender.
Sarah’s family was shocked by the Oklahoma judge’s decision, leaving them feeling like they will never see her again.
Now family members say there’s hope in the form of new legislation.
It’s been almost eight months since 7-year-old Sarah Knight was ordered to live with her father in California.
Sarah’s cousin Jody Coomer says, “From that day forward there hasn’t been a day gone by that we haven’t done something, called someone.”
Coomer and Sarah’s mother Lisa Knight say they’ve been limited to short Skype sessions with Sarah.
They’re discouraged by reports from her California school that Sarah’s grades are slipping and she’s having behavioral issues.
“She’s just like can you fix this, I don’t want to go back,” says Knight. “You can’t do anything about it. It’s out of your control.”
But Knight recently read House Bill 3472. If passed, it will prohibit Oklahoma family courts from awarding custody to a sex offender. Authored by Representative Jason Nelson, Knight called it a glimmer of hope.
For years, Chris Hollrah worked at Hand Up Ministries with registered sex offenders who wanted to turn their lives around.
Hollrah says, “Any kind of bill like that is based on fear and superstition.”
He says the proposal is over the top and punishes people who don’t deserve to be punished.
“They are like a normal person, aside from the fact that they have this scarlet letter placed upon them,” says Hollrah. “They are as capable as anybody of being a good parent.”
But Sarah’s mother doesn’t believe Elizondo has proved that.
They grow more concerned as more time goes by and the proposal is keeping their fight alive.
Coomer says, “She hugs my neck and she’s like please fix this.”
If passed, the new legislation will become law this November.
As for Elizondo, he will face contempt charges in front of an Oklahoma judge in March.
Family members say he has not upheld promises he made in court in regard to taking care of Sarah.
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