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January 1, 2009 permalink
Kansas mother Bambi Baker-Hazen is in jail to protect her daughter Ashton Baker from the horrors of foster care.
Posted on Fri, Dec. 12, 2008
Mother jailed in case of missing daughter
By ROXANA HEGEMAN, The Associated Press
WICHITA | A homeschooling mother whose daughter was removed from the family home following a mistaken truancy report was jailed Friday after refusing to reveal where the girl has been since October.
Bambi Baker-Hazen said she was invoking her right to protect her daughter, Ashton Baker, 14, from what she called abuse in the state’s child welfare system. The girl had spent 47 days in the Wichita Children’s Home before running away Oct. 6.
Baker-Hazen told Sedgwick County Juvenile Court Judge Tim Henderson that when she tried to return Ashton to the home, the girl threatened to jump out of the car. She said Ashton had lost weight and had burns on her arms allegedly inflicted by other children at the home.
“She was hysterical, upset,” Baker-Hazen testified. “She said she could not take it anymore.”
Baker-Hazen said Ashton was safe, but she repeatedly refused the judge’s admonitions to answer questions from deputy county prosecutor Ron Paschal about the teen’s whereabouts.
“Take me to jail,” Baker-Hazen told the judge. She was arrested for contempt and led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Henderson said Baker-Hazen would remain jailed until she disclosed the girl’s location. He set another hearing next week but said he would hold the session anytime she was ready to talk.
Baker-Hazen’s husband, Jeff Hazen, said following the arrest that he felt “torn apart” but supported his wife’s decision not to reveal the girl’s location, even if it meant going to jail.
State welfare officials first became involved with the family when a Wichita middle school — apparently misplacing the homeschooling notification faxed by the state — reported Ashton as truant.
Problems escalated while the mother was out of town seeking substance abuse treatment and mental care services, claiming in her testimony that she was unaware of the state’s involvement.
Ashton was placed with Paul Baker, her biological father, but police picked her up and put her in the children’s home when Ashton ran away from her father to go back to her mother.
Child advocacy groups have long contended Sedgwick County authorities are too quick to remove children from homes.
Source: Kansas City Star