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Guilty After Proven Innocent
April 15, 2011 permalink
Victor Fakoya of Las Vegas was accused of killing a child. After two years in custody, he was acquitted by a jury. When he went home to his wife and children, CPS forced him out of his home. He will not be allowed to see his own children until he completes a child abuse class that includes the requirement to admit responsibility for the crime.
Father forced to fight for parental rights after murder acquittal
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – A man cleared of murder by child abuse charges in two criminal trials has found himself in Family Court, and prosecutors say they won't let him live with his own children until he admits his guilt.
The Family Court case against Victor Fakoya was set before the criminal trials. But his attorney says after the first trial ended in a hung jury and Fakoya was acquitted of criminal charges in the second trial, Child Protective Services showed up at his door and told him to get out.
CPS reportedly told Fakoya that he couldn't live with his two daughters until he takes a child abuse class that ends with an admission of guilt.
Meaning, Victor Fakoya could lose his parental rights if he doesn't admit to a crime for which he's been cleared.
"Should he not admit that he's responsible for killing a child," says defense attorney Kristina Wildeveld, "his children, his rights to his children will be terminated. And that is the ultimate tragedy. This, I actually think is worse than the murder trial."
The arrest report revealed a roommate's toddler died while in Fakoya's care. Court testimony, however, revealed the child had been sick for some time.
"After he was released from the criminal trial, he was released from jail," says Wildeveld. "He went home and CPS showed up at his door and told him there was an active CPS case and he wasn't allowed to reside in his home."
Fakoya's attorneys and jurors from both trials are furious that he's being tried again, showing up to support him in Family Court.
"I think that this is just uncalled for," says former juror Hale Benton. "The man's been found not guilty and he was acquitted, and they're going through this. It wasn't a murder. If anything it was an accident. But it wasn't Mr. Fakoya."
A judge denied prosecutors' request to close the Family Court proceedings. A hearing is set for Friday for a court-appointed attorney since defense attorney Kristina Wildeveld says Fakoya can't afford her private fees.
Monday Fakoya is scheduled for the Family Court's version of a preliminary hearing. Wildeveld says he is willing to take the abuse class without the graduation requirement.
Fakoya's wife has been caring for their two children since he first went to jail in 2008.
Source: KTNV ABC, Channel 13,Las Vegas
Father Victor Fakoya is suing Clark County. A law journal reports.
It sounds like something out of the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials or modern-day North Korea: Authorities separate a husband and father from his family, warning that he can live with them only if he confesses to a crime he didn't commit.
This kind of twisted justice was repudiated by our Founding Fathers, and as a result, the United States legal system is the gold standard of the free world.
Yet this unconscionable scenario played out right here in Clark County over the past few years. And very soon, Southern Nevadans likely will pay dearly for it.
A Nigerian immigrant announced Tuesday that he has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Clark County for keeping him separated from his family for five months after a jury acquitted him of murder and abuse charges in the 2008 death of a 2-year-old boy. Victor Fakoya was not allowed to live with his wife and two daughters unless he admitted responsibility in Family Court to the charges he was found not guilty of in District Court.
"What has been lost in time and the joy of parenting my children is something I will never again regain," he said.
The lawsuit, which seeks $10 million in damages, alleges Child Protective Services employees tried to use the forced separation from his family to coerce Mr. Fakoya into admitting he caused Daniel Jaiwesimi's death.
"It seems morally incongruous for prosecutors to demand of Mr. Fakoya that, in order to settle his Family Court case, he confess to something for which he was acquitted," we wrote in this space in April 2011 - more than a year and a half ago. "It smacks of vindictiveness. There is no rational basis for the demand. The safety of Mr. Fakoya's children can be monitored without demanding a confession that would hang over his life forever, even if he is completely innocent."
Mr. Fakoya, a principled and observant Christian, has steadfastly refused to comply with the prosecutors' demands, even though doing so meant he had to live separately from his wife and two daughters.
A Department of Family Services caseworker recommended dismissal. "In light of the outcome of Mr. Fakoya's criminal trial ... it is respectfully requested and recommended that this matter be dismissed and the case closed," the caseworker wrote in a letter to the court, almost two years ago. But District Attorney David Roger's office pressed on, demanding the confession. (Mr. Roger has since left office.)
Although Mr. Fakoya has filed only against the county, individuals within Child Protective Services and the district attorney's office probably will be named later, says Mr. Fakoya's civil attorney, Brent Bryson.
"The mandate of Child Protective Services is, one, to protect children, and two, to reunify families together. We believe that mission was abandoned in Mr. Fakoya's case," Mr. Bryson said Tuesday.
Indeed. The two missions can sometimes appear to be in conflict. But children fare best within their own families - with both parents, when possible.
The conduct of the agencies in this case went beyond mere caution. They seemed unwilling to accept the verdict of a jury of Mr. Fakoya's peers, determined to use their power over the custody of the children to force a different outcome.
Now, in all likelihood, taxpayers will pay for that intransigence. And what measure of accountability might they get in the face of a multimillion-dollar judgment or settlement? Will anyone within Clark County government face suspension or termination? Will anyone step forward to renounce such Draconian tactics and vow that it will never happen again?
Meantime, as Mr. Fakoya notes, how can he ever be given back those months with his growing children?
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal