OKLAHOMA CITY — In California, just six years ago, Nicholas Elizondo was convicted for raping his then six-year-old daughter. He took a deal and served six years in jail. During that time his ex-wife, Lisa Knight, has been raising their daughter Sarah in Norman.
After six years of little contact with Sarah, he started fighting for sole custody. Yesterday, he won.
Little Sarah’s family is shocked by the Oklahoma County judge’s decision.
“Then he comes out with this solemn face and ‘Oh this is a really hard one for me’,” said Sarah’s cousin, Jodi Coomer. “And I`m thinking hard?”
They thought it was a no-brainer. Both Sarah’s mother and cousin think there is more to Judge Howard Haralson’s decision than what was presented in the courtroom.
“His attorney was in the chambers with the judge while he was deliberating his decision,” said Coomer. “There was laughter coming from the room. We waited for what seemed like hours but it was just minutes.”
She thinks the judge questioned her parenting when she couldn’t name all of Sarah’s doctors off of the top of her head. Born with a cleft lip and palette, Sarah has lots of specialists.
“There is no threat to her whatsoever here. Nothing`s happened to her. She`s made all of her appointments,” said Coomer. “Because mom can`t remember the doctor`s names then she`s a bad mom? I don`t think so.”
Now Sarah has to leave for California tonight to live with a father her family says she only knows as someone who brings gifts and leaves.
“I don`t understand how a sex offender can just walk in the courtroom and just take her after I’ve had her for six years,” said Sarah’s mother Lisa Knight.
Right now, the family is frantic and wondering how to come up with the money to keep fighting for Sarah. They are hoping publicity may shine some light on what they consider an outrageous judicial decision.
Little Sarah came home from a trip, to see her father in California, with a story that, she says, she wasn’t supposed to tell.
“While she was in the bathtub she said ‘Something really bad happened,'” said Coomer.
It took weeks for her to tell her mother and cousin that her half brother had touched her inappropriately. With Sarah’s accusations incomplete she is headed to live with him too. Sarah’s mother says her father hasn’t had much interest in seeing Sarah until recently. She doesn’t want to think about why he suddenly changed his mind.
“I just know that his victim was six-years-old at the time and Sarah is six-years-old right now,” said Knight.
She says she is at a loss and has no idea how to get Sarah back.
“I’ve been fighting him and I just don`t have any more money to fight him at all,” said Coomer.
Sarah’s cousin Coomer says with a registered sexual predator as a father her childhood may not be much of a childhood.
“He can`t take her to Chuck E. Cheese. He can`t take her to a park,” said Coomer. “He can`t go to her school. He`s not allowed in school.”
With only hours left with Sarah they are both trying to keep a brave face. They say her father’s past will haunt her future.
“When she`s old enough to Google it, that`s just going to be a sad day,” said Coomer.
Sarah’s mother and cousin are still fighting to keep her half brother away from her while she is in California. After talking to Elizondo’s attorney, he thinks Judge Haralson did what was in the best interest of Sarah.