Reporting Ginger Allen
PLANO (CBS 11 NEWS) – “What is Texas?” asked Bart Hermer to a curly-headed smiling toddler who turns around and looks up at him. “Home,” she responds. It’s the last video the North Texas dad says he took of his little girl, Alessia.
The father of the now four-year old says his ex-fiancéé and the country of England are keeping Alessia away from him. In three years, Hermer hasn’t made one change to the Plano home that he shared with his daughter. “As silly as it may be, I pray in here [Alessia's bedroom] every night before I go to sleep.”
Hermer and Simone Cohen met on a cruise. “Three months later in March, she told me she was pregnant,” he said.
Their baby girl, Alessia, was born in November 2008.
Looking at cards still sitting on the dresser in what was once their bedroom Hermer read aloud, “This is another she gave me right before she left. [It says] ‘can’t wait to be my wife.’”
According to Hermer, in 2009 Cohen planned a family trip to visit her parents in England. Now, more than three years later, Alessia has never returned to the United States.
Hermer says his ex-fiancéé sent him an email. “She said, ‘you’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve just changed my mind and I’m not coming back. If you want to see your daughter, you’ll have to see her on Skype.’”
Hermer filed child abduction charges in the U.S., while Cohen took legal action in England.
In a statement to CBS 11 News, Cohen claimed she and Hermer had agreed to move to England. She said, “A high court judge…concluded that Hermer intended to get a job here…. He had not sorted out his immigration issues.”
Looking into the closet in his Plano bedroom, Hermer pointed to clothes. “I tried to explain to the judge, “Sir, if I am moving to England, how am I going to work, to interview? My suits are here.”
The frustrated father says he begged the British judge to review a book of evidence that he says proved Cohen’s story was not true. “It was unbelievable how he was shunned,” said lawyer Charla Bradshaw. “They didn’t give him his day. “ Bradshaw is a family practice attorney in Denton who has fought similar international battles. She agreed to help Hermer. “I thought to myself, ‘I can’t believe that that country is doing this.’ Other countries we can expect that from but not them [England].”
Hermer says the Plano Police Department restored messages from Cohen’s computer showing the woman concocted a plan to leave the U.S. before Alessia was ever born.
Hermer says eventually the FBI, State Department, The Global Missing Children Association, and several politicians wrote the British judge. He says those communications all went unheard…until a few months ago.
On August 19, 2013, Judge Scott Becker of Collin County heard Hermer’s case. He signed orders which “declined to recognize the United Kingdom’s Order.” He ordered that “Collin County, Texas has exclusive jurisdiction.” And, he ordered that Alessia be returned.
Bradshaw said, “The fight was brought here. She didn’t show up. Bart was awarded sole custody and she was ordered to return the child. And right now, she is violation of the law.”
Cohen tells CBS 11 the Texas judge “has no jurisdiction” and “simply ignored” the evidence. She says she allowed Hermer to visit Alessia in England. “This is a breakdown of a relationship, not abduction.”
Bart Hermer has a different impression of the circumstances and simply said, “We’re praying when CBS pulls this curtain back and shows all this evidence that the politicians will rally behind that document and this evidence, and England will do the right thing and send her back.”
A spokesperson with the U.S. Department of State told CBS 11 it is, “providing all appropriate assistance to Mr. Hermer.”
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