January 22, 2017

Dusten Brown, Cherokee Nation drop further ligitagation in Veronica case

“One day, you’ll read about all of this,” a weeping Brown said, speaking to his daughter. “I hope you never, ever forget that I love you. My home is always your home.

TULSA, Okla. – Citing his daughter’s best interest, Dusten Brown and Cherokee Nation officials announced Thursday morning that they are dropping all litigation in the protracted Baby Veronica custody fight.

“Over the last four years, I’ve had to make decisions no father should have to make,” Brown said. “It is no longer fair for Veronica to be in middle. The love for my daughter has kept me going these last four years. It is now giving me the strength to accept things that are beyond my control.”

Seventeen days ago, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a non-Native couple from James Island, S.C., who had been attempting to adopt the girl since birth, assumed physical custody of Veronica after the Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved an emergency stay that allowed her to stay with her biological family while Brown and the Cherokee Nation appealed the domestication of a July 31 South Carolina family court order that finalized the adoption.

“One day, you’ll read about all of this,” a weeping Brown said, speaking to his daughter. “I hope you never, ever forget that I love you. My home is always your home.

“I miss you more than words can say. You will always be my little girl, my princess.”

Brown still faces contempt of court and custodial interference complaints in South Carolina. The state’s governor, Nikki Haley, canceled the extradition warrant out for Brown after he handed Veronica to the Capobiancos, but the Nowata resident could still potentially be arrested if he ever visits that state. The contempt of court complaint carries a fine and requests attorneys’ fees and compensation for the Capobiancos’ living expenses during their seven-week stay in Oklahoma earlier this year.

At Thursday’s press conference, an emotional Chrissi Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation, called upon the Capobiancos to “show mercy” and drop the charges.

“We’re asking you to do the right thing,” she said.

Prior to assuming custody of Veronica, the Capobiancos had publicly promised to allow Brown to be a part of his daughter’s life, although they would not elaborate on what that role would be and were unable to reach a visitation agreement during court-ordered mediation.

“I hope you honor that commitment,” Nimmo said, directly addressing the Capobiancos. “You have witnessed the love she has for her father. It is important that you nurture and honor that bond.”

Nimmo confirmed that there has been some communication between the father and daughter since she left Oklahoma, but out of respect for privacy for both sides, would not provide any additional details.

In addition to the Cherokee Nation and Brown ending their appeals, a federal lawsuit filed in South Carolina on Veronica’s behalf by the Native American Rights Fund, National Congress of American Indians and other national Native American organizations has been dropped. Officials with those groups declined to comment.