Published on August 10, 2006 by Marin Independent Journal
Long Running Custody Trial Aired In Court
by Nancy Isles Nation
The parents of a girl at the center of a child custody and abduction case gave contradictory portrayals in court this week of their brief marriage and their time with their daughter.
Jonea Rogers, 46, of Petaluma and Ian Stone, 49, of Forest Knolls, testified before a Marin County jury in a criminal trial in which Rogers is charged with a misdemeanor count of violating a court custody order when she absconded with the girl, 9-year-old Hannah Stone, in August 2000.
Rogers and Stone presented contrasting protraits of everything from their whirlwind romance to their three-month marriage to their decision to divorce.
Stone recalls that Rogers manipulated him into getting married and got pregnant shortly afterwards. Rogers said he proposed on bended knee and later they laughed with another couple about racing to see who would get pregnant first.
Rogers testified in Marin Superior Court Wednesday that she fled with Hannah because she believed the girl was being neglected or abused in the home Stone shared with his father, Les Stone.
Questioned by defense attorney Peter Goodman, Rogers said that from the time she and Stone began a joint custody arrangement in 1997, she was concerned because her daughter would be returned to her with injuries.
By 2000, Rogers said she had seen signs of physical and sexual abuse, although subsequent investigations did not confirm abuse had occurred.
Rogers filed several reports with the county Child Protective Services office at the time and was informed that a social worker and sheriff's deputy would interview Stone. She said there seemed to be a connection between the two agencies and the Marin district attorney's office, where Stone's best friend was an investigator.
She learned laterthat the sheriff's deputy who interviewed Stone told him he was being set up and should hire a lawyer.
Rogers said she increasingly felt that no one was listening to her and feared losing custody of Hannah while she battled out arrangements with Stone. She said in 2000 she read a report by consultant Karen Winner that criticized the Marin family law program, and thought the mothers used as examples in the Winner report had experiences that paralleled hers.
"I saw a connection - I saw similarities - it seemed like many of these women kept getting dragged into courts and many lost children or had supervised visits," Rogers said. "The mothers appeared unstable because they were worn down."
Stone testified Rogers asked him to marry her when she was visiting him in Hawaii and, in February 1996, suggested they elope to Reno. He said he was surprised when she announced shortly afterward she was pregnant.
Stone said that during divorce proceedings, Rogers said she wanted full custody of Hannah but he made it clear he wanted to be involved in his child's life. The two eventually worked out a joint custody arrangement.
When allegations were later made about abuse by Stone or his father, Stone said he wanted to clear up misunderstandings. "The accusations about me and my father were unfounded," Stone testified.
The trial was scheduled to continue today.
Contact Nancy Isles Nation via e-mail at email@example.com
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