Thursday, September 18, 2003

Jury trial will delay custody decision

Mom says seizure of kids violated Cherokee tribal law

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - It will take a lot longer than expected to resolve the custody case involving three children of a Hamilton woman who says Butler County officials violated Cherokee tribal law by removing the children from her home in July.

The trial of Amy Osborne on six charges of child endangering had been scheduled this week before Butler County Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus.

The judge had expected to decide by next week whether the three children should live with Osborne or with their father, Lloyd Arneach Jr., who lives on a reservation in Cherokee, N.C.

But just before the criminal trial was to begin, Osborne's attorney filed a request for a jury. Niehaus granted that request.

The criminal trial is scheduled for Nov. 13 and 14.

The custody issue won't be decided until after that trial, said Rob Clevenger, director of Juvenile Court operations.

Last week, Niehaus awarded temporary custody of the three children - two boys ages 7 and 6 and their 5-year-old sister.

Osborne and her husband, James "Little Hawk" Osborne - who are part American Indian - are charged with six counts of child endangering.

A police report says feces and urine were on the floors and walls of their mobile home in Lemon Township. The Osbornes dispute that allegation.

Arneach and his children are subject to Cherokee tribal court law because he is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

Osborne has said that a Cherokee tribal court awarded her custody of the three children last year.

She contends that Butler County officials have violated that order.

But officials of Juvenile Court and the Butler County Children Services agency say they have worked closely with tribal court officials throughout this case.


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