Sex offender awarded custody of 6-year-old


Nicholas Elizondo, who was recently awarded custody of his 6-year-old daughter despite his sex offender status, is seen in a photo from the California Megan's Law website, a registry of sex offenders.

A judge in Oklahoma City awarded custody of a child to 55-year-old Nicholas Elizondo, who is a registered sex offender from Bakersfield.

The child is Elizondo's 6-year-old daughter. The ruling left the girl's mother bewildered, she said.

"I just don't understand," said Lisa Knight, the child's mother.

Elizondo was convicted in 1995 of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.

Knight and Elizondo were married and living in Bakersfield. Knight moved to Oklahoma after becoming pregnant with the couple's only child. They divorced in 2008, and Knight had custody of their daughter.

Elizondo was granted supervised visits, and later unsupervised visits, with his daughter, and he would travel to see her in Oklahoma, or his daughter would be taken to see her father in Bakersfield.

In court documents, Elizondo said he filed for custody after Knight stopped allowing him to see his daughter.

After a lengthy custody battle, Oklahoma County 7th District Court Judge Howard Haralson ruled on Monday in favor of Elizondo and granted him custody of the couple's daughter, despite Elizondo's record of child sex abuse.

"There isn't anything prohibiting a judge from giving a person convicted of that once they've done their time and they're off probation or parole," said Kern County Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman. "There is a lot to be taken into account, but you'd think that there would be a great deal of weight given to a person that actually was charged and convicted and went to prison for molesting a child under 14."

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A version of this column originally appeared in

California: 1.4 Million Settlement for Mom Accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

0497007649[1]A mother accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy sued and won 1.4 million taxpayer dollars because of incompetence and a rush to judgement by doctors and Kern County social services workers.

Rather than checking a child’s medical records, the doctors decided that the mother of a girl with cystic fibrosis was over-medicating her. They removed her medications, then soon learned the child needed them to thrive.

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is a mental condition in which a parent seeks attention by asking doctors to look after imagined ailments of a child. Obviously, such a far-fetched idea could easily be exploited by over-zealous child protective services workers. I believe a large number of parents accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy are totally innocent of this charge.

In this case the accused parent, Christine Deeths, was herself a highly respected doctor in the Bakersfield, California area. Her two children were adopted. Because she had the money, she was able to hire an attorney to sue the county. Her attorney is Shawn McMillan.

She has also filed lawsuits against the doctors who came to their conclusions and called CPS without even bothering to read the child’s prior medical records.

One of the doctors involved is Dr. John Stirling, a child abuse expert and director of the Center for Child Protection at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Clearly he has his agenda, and probably sees a potential abuser in every parent that walks into his sphere of influence.

Last October he spoke on “War of the Worlds: Abuse, Neglect and the Developing Brain” at a child abuse conference at Stanford called Medical Response to Child Abuse and Neglect.

He was also working in Washington state in 2007 when he was honored at the 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Despite all his education, honors and obsession on child abuse and neglect issues, he seems to have over-stepped his authority in this case, and God knows how many others. I look forward to seeing how the lawsuit against this man turns out.

This is the second Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy lawsuit that the Kern County social services agency has settled within the past year. The first was the case of Darlene and Larry McCue whose son had peanut allergies. They were awarded a settlement of over a million dollars last May.

Source: County coughs up $1.4 million to wronged parent by Lois Henry, published in The Bakersfield Californian on January 19, 2013.

Kern County is renowned for evil persecutions of parents. See Kern County Child Abuse Cases on Wikipedia to read about the wild accusations of ritual sexual abuse leveled against several families in the 1980s, with children coached to lie about their parents. For more information on those cases, check Google. Much has been written to expose the corruption in Kern County child protective services.

A version of this column originally appeared in

County coughs up $1.4 million to wronged parent

g1720fa000000000000ff330c2758ee2bd9292c5ec86bf9e8780bcc5f89[1]That's the settlement amount granted last month to a local doctor in a case where CPS illegally took her two children. The county did this in February, 2011, without a warrant and, as it turns out, for no legitimate reason.

In fact, the case was so egregious that the county's settlement offer came without an actual lawsuit being filed.

There's more.

As part of the settlement, the Kern County Department of Human Services, which oversees CPS, agreed to remove the doctor's name from California's child abuse registry and reverse the entire case that was brought against her.

It's as if it never happened.

But it did.

"My children will never be the same," said the doctor, Christine Deeths. "They lost their innocence the day they were taken. CPS stole that from them and it can never be replaced.".

Deeth's daughter was 4 and her son 6 when a social worker took them away from their home.

The allegation was that Deeths, a family practitioner, was harming her daughter by subjecting her to unnecessary medical treatments. That's a condition known as Munchhausen syndrome by proxy, an extremely rare mental disorder that some experts argue isn't even a real disorder. Theoretically, parents make up or exaggerate a child's ailments to get attention from the medical community.

Despite its rarity, Kern CPS has wrongly taken children and tagged parents with Munchhausen on several occasions.

Just last May, taxpayers forked over $ 1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Darlene and Larry McCue after CPS workers accused Darlene of Munchhausen and took their boy in 2008 He had severe peanut allergies.

The McCue and Deeths cases combined bring CPS' debt to taxpayers to $ 2.4 million in just seven months.


In previous stories, I had shielded Deeths' identity. But the family now lives out of state and she has filed a lawsuit against several doctors involved in the case so her name is a matter of public record. To afford the children some privacy, I'll only use their initials.

While Deeths was satisfied with the monetary part of the settlement and very happy to have her name erased from the child abuse registry, she was frustrated that the individual county employees who made poor decisions or flat out ignored the law in her case wouldn't be held accountable. In order to move the settlement forward, Deeths said, she and her lawyer agreed to drop individuals from the suit.

"They have no consequences. It's not them paying the settlement, it's taxpayers," she said.

It was those individuals, including a public health nurse, social workers and county attorneys, she said, who pursued the case, dragged it out and went to great lengths to "win" against her regardless of the truth.

Beyond that, she hoped her case would spur changes in how the department does business.

After the McCue case, the department began revamping policies on how and when children can be taken. Social workers had been taking kids without warrants even when there was no imminent threat to a child's safety. That was patently illegal, said Deeths' attorney Shawn McMillan who also represented the McCues.

Deeths is hopeful that her case will prompt the county to have a medical doctor review records in cases, like hers, where the allegation of abuse centers on complicated medical issues.


Both of Deeths' children are adopted.

Her daughter, R.D., was born in 2006 to a meth-addicted woman who 'd had no prenatal care. The baby also tested positive for marijuana exposure.

From the start the child was very ill with chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory problem. She grew very slowly if at all. She had numerous hospitalizations and doctor's visits.

Reading through her complete medical records literally took me days.

CPS had only a handful of records from R.D.'s most recent hospital stay when the social worker decided to take her and her older brother T.D. on Feb. 25, 2011. The social worker made that decision, it appears, solely on the say-so of three doctors, one of whom had never examined R.D. and also hadn't reviewed her complete medical history. (See adjoining story.).

If CPS had waited for complete records and had a doctor review them, Deeths is confident there never would have been a CPS case.

"It's the same as if the county had a Spanish speaking family in court and refused to use a translator. That would be negligent," Deeths said. "Medicine is its own language, it needs a qualified interpreter to understand the records.".

She said she brought up the need to have a doctor review records during settlement negotiations and Deputy County Counsel Mark Nations said it was a valid point that he would look into.

Nations did not return a phone call and email regarding this case.

If there was anything positive to come out of her ordeal, I asked Deeths.

She said she learned empathy.

As part of the original CPS case, Deeths was ordered to attend parenting classes put on by Human Services. She met dozens of parents who, like her, had lost their children. "I learned a lot about the less privileged," she said.

She had the resources to fight CPS, she said, when most other parents don't. She wonders how many more families have been unfairly torn apart.

"A lot of what they're taking kids for is a lack of knowledge about life skills and CPS isn't helping parents learn those life skills," she said. "Meanwhile they're creating generational problems because when you take a child, they're changed forever.

"They're creating a cycle.".