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March 3, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Sigh.  Another day, another court that’s failed to protect children (The Chattanoogan, 2/22/19).

The current case is one of international child abduction that a trial court in Tennessee knew was a risk, ignored it, allowed Mom to take the children to Denmark and now no one knows where they are.

Bart Critser and Denmark native Majken Wadum were married for 10 years, but divorced in 2018.  They have two daughters, Ebba and Silvia.  Wadum apparently has long-standing problems with alcoholism that have impaired her ability to be always a fit parent to the girls. 

When Critser filed for divorce in August of 2017, he cited Wadum’s alcoholism and was given primary custody by Judge Robert Whitwell.  But shortly thereafter, Whitwell ordered both children to live with Wadum in Oxford Mississippi.

In June of 2018,
Judge Whitwell grants Majken’s request to again travel to Denmark, this time with both daughters, during the month of July. He returns Majken’s passport to her, along with the passports of the girls. Bart’s legal team objects, stating that Majken is a clear flight risk, noting particularly that the children had indicated to Bart that they are “moving.” 
So the girls’ understanding of what they and their mother were doing was “moving” to Denmark.  To Whitwell, that didn’t signify a risk that they wouldn’t return, so he allowed them to go.  Amazingly,
Judge Whitwell orders Majken to return to Mississippi with the children no later than Aug. 5.
So apparently, the judge figured that a mother who’s planning to abduct her children to her native Denmark would be thwarted by a Mississippi court order telling her not to.  He of course was well aware that Danish courts don’t enforce the orders of Mississippi courts and that the jurisdiction of his court doesn’t extend to Scandinavia.  But he let her go anyway.

Guess what happened.  On August 5,
Majken sends Bart an e-mail saying that she and the girls were staying in Denmark to start their new lives.
That required Critser to travel to Denmark four times over the next six months.  The first trip was to initiate proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  The second was for the hearing on that suit in the lower court and the third and fourth times were for Wadum’s appeal of the lower court’s decision. 

All decisions by the Danish courts have been in Critser’s favor.  And those decisions, like that of the court in Mississippi, plus $4.99 will get Critser a latte at Starbucks.  They’re so far worth nothing.

To no one’s surprise, Wadum is no more interested in obeying the orders issued by Danish judges than she was of obeying Judge Whitwell’s.
Majken agrees for Bart to collect the girls on Feb. 6. Bart goes to her apartment – there is no answer at the door. Neighbors say they have not seen Majken and the girls in four days. Bart has made numerous attempts to find the girls. Danish police have searched the apartment. Majken’s mother and brother claim they do not know where she is. She has deleted her email account, her bank account and credit cards are frozen, Interpol has put a warning on her passport – and yet she has disappeared with the children without a trace.
Now, Interpol can track the use of a passport, but of course passports aren’t necessary to travel around Europe.  But there are plenty of other indicators Interpol can rely on, such as the use of credit cards, checks, etc.  But Wadum’s bank account and credit cards are useless, so apparently someone is assisting her in her abduction.  That of course makes that person(s) a conspirator in child abduction.  Who might that person be?

Who knows?  But here in the U.S., we had a similar case in which a mother snatched her son from his father’s custody in Canada and simply disappeared off the face of the planet.  A certain private detective in Minnesota who specialized in parental child abduction cases didn’t hesitate to say where he thought they were – in a DV shelter.  And sure enough, he was right.  Shortly thereafter, both were found in a shelter in South Dakota.  

If the police want to find Majken Wadum, they’d be well advised to start with the local shelters.

We’ll see how this one turns out.  In the meantime, it’s important to note that Judge Whitwell’s shocking failure to prevent this abduction meant (and means) the abuse of two young girls.  He is complicit in that.

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