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Contempt charges dropped for Dusten Brown - abc27 WHTM

Contempt charges dropped for Dusten Brown

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The Capobiancos with Veronica. The Capobiancos with Veronica.
Dusten Brown with Veronica. Dusten Brown with Veronica.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Charleston judge has dropped the contempt charges against Dusten Brown, the father of a 4-year-old Native American girl caught up in a custody battle.

According to the Tulsa newspaper, the charges were dropped "with prejudice," which means the charges will not be filed again. Lori Alvino McGill, one of the many attorneys in the case representing the James Island couple and the birth mother, said the Capobiancos asked their attorneys to no longer pursue the case.

"They are happy and healing and just want to move on with their lives. We are voluntarily dismissing the contempt proceedings," McGill said in an email late Thursday night.

Brown and the Cherokee Nation reached an agreement with Matt and Melanie Capobianco, of James Island, over the years long custody battle that ultimately ended with the Capobiancos taking custody of Veronica. 

Tulsa World reports the decision will not have an effect on the outstanding criminal case against Brown for custodial interference or the Oklahoma-based civil case in which the Capobiancos' attorneys are seeking restitution for the weeks of legal services and other expenses.

McGill said the Capobiancos' Oklahoma attorneys are still seeking reimbursement for the fees and expenses incurred during the seven weeks the couple spent in Oklahoma's courts fighting Brown. 

Jessica Munday, the Capobiancos' spokeswoman through the four-year custody battle, released a statement from Jim Thompson, one of the Capobiancos' attorneys, who said there was another contempt hearing set for Jan. 27-28.

However, the family requested that the charges be dropped, a request the judge carried out.

Amanda Clinton, the spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, also confirmed the most recent development, but said further commentary on the case would have to come from Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo.

This is the first news to come out of the case since the Capobiancos regained custody of Veronica in September and Brown said he was stopping all efforts to get custody of Veronica in October. 

Since returning to the Lowcountry, the Capobiancos have not granted any interviews and have not issued any statements. Shortly after the transfer, they said Brown and his family would still have access to Veronica through visitation. 

For two years, the Capobiancos raised Veronica after working through an adoption with the girl's birth mother, Christina Maldonado. 

However, when Brown learned of the adoption, he worked to stop it, ultimately convincing the South Carolina Supreme Court that a federal law gave him the right to custody over the James Island Couple. 

In 2011, Brown took custody of Veronica and the Capobiancos filed appeal after appeal until their case was heard before the Supreme Court of the United States. In a split decision, the Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply because Brown had not been present in his daughter's life until after the adoption. 

That filtered back down to state Supreme Court and ultimately family court in Charleston where the adoption was finalized.

However, Brown appealed the decision and continued to fight for custody of his daughter alongside the Cherokee Nation. After he failed to appear for a supervised transition meeting in Charleston, the contempt order was filed by the family court judge and an arrest warrant was issued for his arrest. 

It is unclear if any of the other legal proceedings that still remain open in the case will also be closed.

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