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State takes custody of child after Facebook scam

In an unusual child custody hearing, a court decided neither parent was fit at the time to care for their 8-year-old daughter. The state took the girl into protective custody after the husband orchestrated a bizarre plan involving a fake Facebook account that was meant to show that his ex-wife was an unfit parent. In Maryland, a court may revoke child custody if it finds that both parents are endangering, abusing or otherwise improperly caring for the child or children in question.

Shortly after the couple's divorce, the father created a fake Facebook account and contacted his ex-wife through the social networking tool, promising to take her on vacations. The mother sent pictures and videos of herself to the man, not realizing that it was her ex-husband.

After the man suggested that his ex-wife send more explicit videos, the woman agreed. In order to film the videos, in which she allegedly performed stripteases and appeared nude, she had their 8-year-old daughter hold her camera. The woman sent around 20 such videos to her ex, one of which included her partially clothed daughter. At this final video, the man backed off, and scolded her for including the girl in the video.

When the man appeared at a custody hearing with a CD containing the videos, he hoped to prove that the woman was unfit to hold custody over the couple's children. However, child welfare services were appalled that he had resorted to deception, and that he let the videos continue when he knew his young daughter was involved.

Police took protective custody of both of the couples' children while they reviewed the case. Ultimately, they returned the couple's 6-year-old son to the mother's custody, but chose to place the girl involved in the videos under the supervision of another party. Both parents were given visitation rights, but were unable to regain custody after an appeal.

Source: Forbes, "How Not To Use Facebook To Get Custody Of Your Kids," Kashmir Hill, Nov. 18, 2011

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