Oxford

'Kidnap' mother Eileen Clark extradited to the US

  • 4 July 2014
  • From the section Oxford
Eileen Clark (centre) with son Chandler and daughter Rebekah
Eileen Clark fled the US in 1998 with her three children, including son Chandler and daughter Rebekah

A mother of three who fled her husband in the US has been extradited from the UK on charges of kidnapping her children, campaigners have said.

Eileen Clark, a US citizen living in West Way, Oxford, left her unhappy marriage over a decade ago.

Liberty said removing the "vulnerable" and "terrified" 57-year-old was a "perfect example of inhumanity and injustice".

The home secretary maintained the original extradition order in August.

But the case returned to court following fresh human rights submissions and a new diagnosis that Ms Clark was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to a history of domestic violence and abuse in the 1990s.

'Bleak day'

Last month Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Nicol, sitting at the High Court in London, rejected the latest challenge.

The court was "dubious" about the PTSD claim, Lord Justice Treacy said, adding that "a cogent case" had not been established.

The judge said the removal of children without parental consent was "a serious matter" and recognised as such by both domestic and foreign courts.

Emma Norton, legal officer at Liberty, said: "Our client has been put on a plane by police officers at London Heathrow and extradited to the US - where the husband she fled almost 20 years ago waits to face her in court.

"The decision to send Eileen to the US disregards the terrible harm that extradition itself, let alone the prospect of facing her alleged abuser, will have on her."

Speaking to the BBC in May, Ms Clark said she sees the extradition as just another part of her ex-husband's abuse.

"He is trying to destroy me," she said.

Eileen Clark
Eileen Clark was put on a plane by police officers at London Heathrow

"I feel like this is his final bid for power and control over me - to tear me away from my home, family and friends - after escaping years of abuse at his hands."

Her daughter Rebekah Van Sant, who also spoke to the BBC at the time, said: "I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but I just think it would be the end of her.

"I don't think she would be well enough at the start of that process, because she's really bad at the minute. She would need so much care, but she could be literally left sitting in a prison being neglected."

Ms Clark alleges her then husband threatened to push her down a flight of stairs while she was pregnant, hit her and abused her emotionally - until she reached her limit and escaped in 1995.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said she was "horrified" and called it a "bleak day".

She said: "It is highly disturbing that her claims have not been properly examined in a court of law in this country.

"Instead, this terrified woman is being handed back to the States to face criminal charges."

Ms Clark's children were removed from New Mexico in 1995 and from the US in 1998.

She was arrested at her Oxfordshire home in July 2010 following a US government request for her return.

Her first husband, John Clark, started legal proceedings against her after she left the marital home, at first going to live with friends in California.

In June 1995, state prosecutors charged her with "custodial interference".

The marriage was dissolved in February 1997 with both parents retaining legal custody.

Her former husband, who never saw the children while they were growing up, continued to pursue his case against her through the US courts, leading to her eventually being indicted by a grand jury for "international parental kidnapping" after fleeing to the UK.

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