(MILWAUKEE) — It was a very Merry Christmas for one Wisconsin man, whose four year battle to regain custody of his daughter from his wife, who had taken her to Japan, ended when he returned to the United States with the 9-year-old girl.
Moises Garcia, whose story was part of an ABC News series on fathers engaged in international custody battles, returned Friday with his daughter Karina.
“She’s nervous in the beginning. She told me she was overwhelmed from the, so many people around. But now, with me and my sister, she is actually sleeping. So she’s doing OK,” the Fox Point doctor told ABC News affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee as he was coming home from the airport in Chicago.
Garcia’s case was unusual among fathers who have fought their ex-wives in Japanese courts, because Japan made the rare move of recognizing U.S. court orders that granted him custody of his daughter.
Despite that recognition, he was still granted little access to Karina. He visited Japan numerous times each year, but was often only allowed to see his daughter for short, court-monitored visits in a room with a two-way mirror.
The break in Garcia’s case came eight months ago, when Garcia’s wife, Emiko Inoue, was arrested in Hawaii on charges of abducting her child.
In November she pleaded guilty to lesser charges, as long as she returned Karina to Garcia. She was ordered to remain in jail until the little girl was back in her father’s home.
Patrick Braden of California, the founder of Global Frontier, a group that advocates for father’s in custody battles over children who have been taken to Japan, told WISN that Garcia’s case is a landmark.
“This is the first time a Japanese citizen who kidnapped an American child from the United States soil in violation of previously established jurisdiction and laws has been held accountable for the criminal act here in a US court,” Braden said.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Sara Zendehnam, CNN
Jethro Mullen, Ravi Hiranand and Frank Pallotta, CNN