Claudia Wilson, Susan Sloat, Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Wilson and Bethany Wilson,
Rick Groff, Jean Higgenbotham, James C. Wray, Rebecca Wray, Yvonne Mintor, Terry Barron, Barbara Ann Grandstaff, Waldo Grandstaff, Yolanda Russell, Victor Gosnell, Martha Gosnell, Lawrence Janow, Michael Cox, Douglas Wilder, and the Amherst County Department of Social Services,
The plaintiffs state:
1. This is a civil action authorized by 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) to redress the depravation of rights authorized by the Constitution of the United States. It is also brought under the Federal Anti-Kidnapping Act, 18 U.S.C. 1201, under the Parental Kidnapping Act, 28 U.S.C. 1738A, under the federal acts pertaining to the departments of social services and the welfare of children including 42 U.S.C. 601 et seq., and under the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, including the rights to privacy and the freedom to raise a family. This action is also brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violations of the civil rights of the plaintiffs and to enjoin the actions of the state courts, also under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2201 and 2202.
2. Jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. 1343, Diversity of Citizenship, 28 U.S.C. 1332, and pendent jurisdiction. The amount in controversy exceeds $50,000.
3. Claudia Wilson is the mother of Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Wilson and Bethany Wilson, ages 9, 8 and 7, respectively. Susan Sloat is the mother of Claudia Wilson.
4. Susan Sloat resides at 406 North Loudoun Street, #2, Winchester, VA 22601.
4. Claudia Wilson resides with her three children at 3290 25th Street #303, San Francisco, Calif 94110. However, since November, 1990, Claudia Wilson has been staying in the same apartment building with her mother, Susan Sloat, in an effort to get her kidnapped children back.
5. Defendant Rick Groff is a social worker for the Amherst County Department of Social Services, Commonwealth of Virginia. Defendant Jean Higgenbotham is the supervisor of Rick Groff.
6. Defendants James C. Wray and Rebecca Wray are evangelist kidnappers who kidnapped Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Wilson and Bethany Wilson, the three infant children of Claudia Wilson. James C. Wray and Rebecca Wray live in Amherst County, Virginia. Defendants James C. Wray and Rebecca Wray reside at Route 2, Box 370, Monroe, VA 24574.
7. Defendants Barbara Ann Grandstaff and Waldo Grandstaff are the parents of Rebecca Wray who, through defendant Yolanda Russell, lured Claudia Wilson into a trap for the purpose of bringing about the kidnapping of Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Wilson and Bethany Wilson. The husband of Barbara Ann Grandstaff is Waldo Grandstaff, an evangelist preacher. They reside at 108 Millstone Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502, tel. (804) 239-5265.
8. Defendant Yvonne Mintor is a staff psychologist of the Amherst County Mental Health Department. Defendant Terry Barron is her supervisor at the Amherst County Mental Health Department, Amherst, Virginia 24521.
9. Defendants Victor Gosnell and Martha Gosnell are friends of James and Rebecca Wray. They reside at 323 Biltmore Ave., Lynchburg, VA 24502. Yolanda Russell is a friend of Barbara Ann Grandstaff. She resides at 197 Columbia Avenue, Redwood City, Cal. 94063 tel. (415) 365-1077.
10. Defendant Lawrence Janow is the only judge of the Amherst County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Defendant Michael Cox is the Sheriff of Amherst County, Virginia.
11. Defendant Douglas Wilder is the Governor of Virginia. His address is The Capital, Richmond, Virginia 23219. Governor Wilder oversees the state departments of social services which have illegally taken the children involved in this case.
12. The defendants herein are part of an organized ring of evangelist religious kidnappers who specialize in kidnapping children from out of state and giving them away for adoption in Amherst County, Virginia. In all such cases, the method is the same. Judge Janow is always the judge, Rick Groff is always the case worker, Jean Higgenbotham is always the supervisor. In all such cases, the method of kidnapping the target children is to bring them into Amherst County by means of force, fraud, deception or intimidation. After that, the natural parent is detained or arrested and, when released from custody, is unable to obtain recovery of the children. Through this plan or system of kidnapping children, Amherst County has the highest rate of children being taken away from their parents of any county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
13. In accordance with this conspiracy to kidnap children, persons in Amherst County unable to have children of their own can obtain church sponsorship for their kidnapping. After the child or children have been successfully kidnapped, the kidnappers are appointed by Rick Groff and Jean Higgenbotham as "foster care parents" for the kidnapped children. Then, after keeping the child or children in custody for at least one year, they are allowed to adopt the children, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Virginia State Code.
14. In the course of doing this, the would-be adoptive parents receive foster care money provided by the state. This money originally comes from the federal government pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 601. Consequently, the would-be adoptive parents are actually paid by the federal government with taxpayer dollars to kidnap a child from the natural parents.
15. On September 9, 1990, the California Superior Court for the County of San Mateo granted joint custody of Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Wilson and Bethany Wilson to their parents, with their mother, Claudia Wilson, having custody five nights a week from Monday to Friday and the father, Louis Camacho, having custody two nights a week on Saturday and Sunday. This custody order was obtained after extensive litigation. 16. Plaintiff Claudia Wilson was dissatisfied with this custody order. She was advised by defendants Yolanda Russell and Barbara Ann Grandstaff to remove herself and the three children from the State of California to defeat the custody order and to re-litigate the matter in the State of Virginia where, according to Yolanda Russell and Barbara Ann Grandstaff, the courts would be more likely to favor the rights of the mother.
17. For this reason, plaintiff Claudia Wilson purchased a Greyhound Bus ticket for her and the three children to travel from San Francisco, California to Winchester, Virginia. Defendants Yolanda Russell and Barbara Grandstaff thereafter alerted defendants James Wray and Rebecca Wray of the travel itinerary of Claudia Wilson and the three children.
18. Rebecca Wray is a second cousin one generation removed of Claudia Wilson. However, Claudia Wilson had never seen Rebecca Wray since childhood. In addition, neither Claudia Wilson nor her three children had ever met James C. Wray.
19. Unbeknownst to Claudia Wilson, James Wray and Rebecca Wray are unable to have children of their own and, for that reason, have been trying for many years, without success, to adopt a female child. Therefore, when they heard about Claudia Wilson and her three daughters, they hatched a plot to kidnap the three children and adopt them. They therefore contacted Barbara Ann Grandstaff who, in turn, contacted Yolanda Russell in California and expressed an interest in adopting one or more of the Wilson sisters.
20. When the Greyhound Bus carrying Claudia Wilson and her three daughters arrived in Roanoke, Virginia, Rebecca Wray and Barbara Ann Grandstaff immediately entered the bus and, after inquiring as to their identities, Rebecca Wray picked up Bethany Wilson (the youngest child) and carried her off of the bus, without the permission of the mother. Claudia Wilson immediately protested this action and followed her off the bus, along with the other two children. James Wray and Rebecca Wray then put the children in their car, where they were taken to Amherst County, Virginia, about 70 miles from Roanoke. The mother, Claudia Wilson, was taken in a separate car by Barbara Ann Grandstaff to her home in Lynchburg. The explanation given for this was that there was not enough room in either the house of James Wray or of the house of the Grandstaff's to accommodate the mother and the three children together.
21. The next morning, Claudia Wilson demanded that James C. Wray and Rebecca Wray take her and the three children back to the bus station so that they could proceed onward on their journey to Winchester, Virginia. However, James Wray and Rebecca Wray and Barbara Ann Grandstaff and Waldo Grandstaff asked them to stay one more night, stating that if they did so, James Wray and Rebecca Wray would be able to drive them all the way to Winchester, Virginia the following day. Claudia Wilson was forced to agree to this proposal because her three daughters had been taken to a remote back-woods area of Amherst County with no public transportation and therefore she did not know where they were and, even if she had known, would have been unable to leave there with the children on her own.
22. Thereafter, defendant James C. Wray contacted his friend, defendant Sheriff Michael Cox and asked him to arrest Claudia Wilson so as to assist him in the kidnapping and the adoption of the three children.
23. The following day, with Claudia Wilson and the three children now having spent two nights in the State of Virginia, James Wray brought three sheriff's deputies to the house of Waldo Grandstaff where Claudia Wilson was staying. Barbara Grandstaff has just brought Waldo Grandstaff dinner. However, she had not brought any food for Claudia Wilson because, as it turned out, she knew that the police were on their way to arrest Claudia Wilson.
24. The three sheriffs deputies had with them a signed order of commitment to a mental institution signed by James C. Wray, even though James C. Wray was not a blood relation of Rebecca Wray, had never met her until two days previously and Claudia Wilson had not been staying at his house.
25. Based upon this signed order of commitment, the three sheriff's deputies arrested Claudia Wilson as she was sitting in the living room at the dinner table with Waldo Grandstaff expecting to be taken with her three children to Winchester, Virginia. Claudia Wilson was then instead taken to the Lynchburg General Hospital, where she was placed in a holding cell and was incarcerated and held for observation. During this period, she was deprived of her medication.
26. The next morning, Claudia Wilson was taken before a judge and then was taken to a mental hospital in Danville, Virginia, where she remained for the next three weeks until she was discharged.
27. After being released, Claudia Wilson returned to collect her three children so that they could proceed on their journey to Winchester, Virginia.
28. Upon her return, Claudia Wilson was not allowed to see her three children. Instead, she was told that James and Rebecca Wray had taken her three children for adoption. In order to facilitate this adoption, Defendants James and Rebecca Wray had been appointed as foster care parents by the Amherst County Department of Social Services so that they could hold the children for the one year required by Virginia law in order to facilitate this adoption.
29. Since that time, one and a half years have passed. During that entire period, Claudia Wilson has been allowed to see her children only once and cannot even talk to them over the telephone. James and Rebecca Wray have changed their telephone number in order to prevent Claudia Wilson from calling them. Claudia Wilson does not even know where James and Rebecca Wray live, since they live on a back country road with no street address or house number, and she has never been there. For this reason, it has been impossible for Claudia Wilson to find her children.
30. During this entire time, Claudia Wilson has been trying to fight through the legal system to find and recover her three children. She has appeared many times in court before Defendant Judge Lawrence Janow. Each time, Judge Janow has adjourned the case without entering a final order, thereby preventing Claudia Wilson from applying to a higher court. There have also been many delays and postponements by Judge Janow.
31. All this is in accordance with the general pattern of Judge Janow. Judge Janow is the person behind all of these kidnappings. Judge Janow regularly kidnaps children and follows the same practice and procedure to prevent the parents from getting their children back. For this reason, the kidnaping of children has become common in Amherst County.
32. In the meantime, Claudia Wilson has been forced to remain in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She has taken up residence near her mother, Susan Sloat in Winchester, although she never resided there previously.
33. During the year and a half when James and Rebecca Wray have been holding the children of Claudia Wilson, they have, according to their own statements, subjected them to sexual abuse. They have taken nude baths with them and touched their private parts.
34. Meanwhile, Louis Camacho, who was awarded joint custody of these children by the California Courts just prior to these kidnappings, has instituted a multitude of proceedings in both the state and the federal courts of California to have the children brought back to California where he has joint custody. These proceedings have proven futile, as Judge Janow is unwilling to comply with any order of the California courts.
35. In the latest development, on May 6, 1992, Judge Fren M. Smith of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the suit brought by Louis Camacho there on the grounds that the Northern District of California has no jurisdiction over the defendants. The name of the case is Camacho v. Rick Groff, et al, C-91-4214 FMS. Louis Camacho has now filed a notice of appeal.
36. In an effort to prevent Louis Camacho from exercising his parental rights with regard to the children and to assist James and Rebecca Wray in their efforts to adopt the children, defendants Rick Groff and Jean Higgenbotham have claimed that Louis Camacho might not even be the father of the children, even though the courts of California have already adjudicated him to be the father of the children and have awarded him joint custody. The children were all born in California.
37. Defendants Judge Janow, Rick Groff and Jean Higgenbotham have all demanded that Louis Camacho must travel to Virginia and appear personally in court if he wants to get his children back. Louis Camacho has been unwilling to do this because he regards the taking of these children as illegal and that therefore they must be brought back to California. In addition, he noted that Claudia Wilson was illegally arrested for no legal reason when she first arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia and he has the well founded fear that the same thing might happen to him, especially since Judge Janow has a history of arresting people under similar circumstances.
38. Because of these factors, Judge Janow dismissed the custody petition of Louis Camacho filed by mail in the Amherst County Juvenile and Domestic Relations on the grounds of the failure of Louis Camacho to appear personally in Virginia.
39. Defendants Rick Groff, Jean Higgenbotham and Judge Janow now take the position that Louis Camacho has not proven himself to be the father of the three children and therefore has no rights and is not entitled to any further communication on this matter.
40. Plaintiff Susan Sloat has petitioned the Amherst Court Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for custody and/or visitation with her grandchildren. The hearing on these petitions has been repeatedly postponed, over the strenuous objections of Susan Sloat. As a result, Susan Sloat has been able to see her grandchildren only once, and she has not been able to appeal to a higher court.
41. Since the commencement of the case before Judge Janow, Claudia Wilson and Susan Sloat have made repeated demands that Judge Janow disqualify himself on the grounds of bias and prejudice against them. They have also demanded that the case and the children be transferred to Winchester, Virginia where the children can be nearer to them and where they can be separated from the Wray's, who originally kidnapped the children and are seeking illegally to adopt the children.
42. Shortly after the initial kidnapping and illegal detention of the three children, James and Rebecca Wray decided that they only wanted to adopt the two youngest children and did not want the oldest daughter, Sarah Wilson. They therefore returned Sarah Wilson to Rick Groff.
43. Instead of trying to find a foster home which would provide a neutral environment and which would be willing to accept all three children and keep them together, Rick Groff separated the sisters and placed Sarah Wilson in foster care with defendants Victor and Martha Gosnell, who are friends of James and Rebecca Wray and who now also want to adopt that child.
44. Sarah Wilson, the oldest of the three children, has a warm and loving relationship with her grandmother, Susan Sloat, arising from the fact that Sarah Wilson stayed with her grandmother during the Summer of 1989. Nevertheless, when removing Sarah Wilson from the home of James and Rebecca Wray, Rick Groff did not consider placing Sarah with her grandmother, but instead placed her with complete strangers, Victor and Martha Gosnell, solely for the reasons that they were friends of James and Rebecca Wray and they also wanted to adopt a female child.
45. There is now pending a proceeding before Judge Janow to terminate the parental rights of all of the parents of the three children. James and Rebecca Wray have also filed custody petitions for the custody of Rebecca and Bethany Wilson. Several hearings have been scheduled, but Judge Janow keeps postponing the date.
46. In the course of these proceedings, the Amherst County Department of Social Services set certain requirements for Claudia Wilson to get her three children back. These were that Claudia Wilson establish a residence and her own apartment in the State of Virginia with enough space to accommodate the three children, that she secure a regular job in Virginia, that she take therapy and counseling and that she cooperate with the court. Claudia Wilson has complied fully with each of these requirements. She has taken a job as a nurse in Virginia at a much lower salary than she received in California because she is not certified in Virginia. Nevertheless, in spite of all these sacrifices to recover her children, she still has been allowed to see her three children only once in the one and a half years since they were kidnapped, and has not been allowed even to speak to them on the telephone. Now, she is being threatened with a proceeding to terminate her parental rights.
47. All of the above is in accordance with a consistent pattern of Judge Janow and Rick Groff. Judge Janow regularly kidnaps children exactly like this. There are presently many children held in Amherst County illegally under precisely the same conditions as the children here.
48. Judge Janow has never had any jurisdiction over these children. The mother, Claudia Wilson, did not bring the children to Amherst County. She brought them to Roanoke. They were taken to Amherst County by James and Rebecca Wray without the permission of either of the parents of the children. The only reason that the Wray's commenced proceedings in Amherst County rather than in Lynchburg, Roanoke or another jurisdiction is that they know that Judge Janow has a solid reputation for approving the kidnapping of children and because the Wray's live in Amherst County and want to adopt a female child.
49. It is submitted that it is illegal to use federal funds to kidnap children from their parents. It is further submitted that the fact that James and Rebecca Wray want to adopt the two children disqualifies them from acting as foster care parents. James and Rebecca Wray never had been appointed as foster care parents for any other children prior to this case. All of the above is also true of Victor and Martha Gosnell. In addition, James C. Wray had Claudia Wilson arrested, not because she had done anything wrong or had committed any crime, but because the general system for taking children for illegal adoption in Amherst Country involves getting the natural parents arrested. The fact that James Wray illegally got Claudia Wilson arrested should disqualify him from being appointed as a foster care parent for these children.
50. It is submitted that federal law requires that the children be placed with Susan Sloat, the grandmother, if they are not placed with Claudia Wilson, the mother. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 606(a), the state defendants, including defendants Douglas Wilder and Rick Groff, are required to place the child with the grandparent if they are unable to place them with the parent. This has not been implemented. Instead, the children have been placed with complete strangers who never saw them prior to their arrival in Roanoke, in violation of federal law.
51. It is submitted that the children must be returned to the State of California. The children were born in California and spent almost their entire lives in California until just two days prior to the arrest of their mother and their detention in Virginia. California is fully familiar with the facts of this case. In addition, ever since Bethany Wilson was carried off the Greyhound Bus by Rebecca Wray, Claudia Wilson has been deprived of contact with her children. No allegations against Claudia Wilson regarding this case have anything to do with the State of Virginia or with the County of Amherst. Any trial or hearing, if there is to be one, must take place in California.
52. The defendants have violated the Parental Kidnapping Act, 28 U.S.C. 1738A, as well as the federal Uniform Child Custody Act and the Virginia and California Uniform Child Custody Acts by taking jurisdiction over this case while there is still a pending proceeding in California regarding the custody of these three children. Because of the pending California proceedings, Virginia has no jurisdiction to entertain this matter. In addition, Amherst County has no jurisdiction over this matter because these children got to Amherst County only as a result of being kidnapped by a non-parent.
53. For these reasons, Judge Janow should be enjoined from hearing this case and should be disqualified from acting as a judge, on the grounds that he has no jurisdiction over this matter, especially in view of his long history of taking jurisdiction over similar cases over which he has no proper jurisdiction.
54. Because of the aforementioned circumstances, including the illegal separation of the parents from the children for the last one and a half years, the plaintiffs have suffered damages in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars.
WHEREFORE, the plaintiffs demand the following:
1. That Judge Janow be enjoined from proceeding with any case before him regarding this matter.
2. That the children and the cases involving these children be transferred to Winchester, Virginia, both so that the children can be brought near to their mother and grandmother and so that they can be separated from James and Rebecca Wray and Victor and Martha Gosnell who are trying to adopt them illegally.
3. That James and Rebecca Wray and Victor and Martha Gosnell be disqualified from acting as foster care parents.
4. That the defendants be required to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of $500,000.
5. That the case be tried by jury.
________________________ Rebecca Wilson 406 North Loudoun Street Winchester, VA 22601.
__________________________ Susan Sloat 406 North Loudoun Street, #2 Winchester, VA 22601
I have read the foregoing verified complaint and have found it to be true except for those matters alleged upon information and belief, and those I believe to be true.
_________________________ Rebecca Wilson
Sworn before me on
I have read the foregoing verified complaint and have found it to be true except for those matters alleged upon information and belief, and those I believe to be true.
_________________________ Susan Sloat
Sworn before me on June 6, 1992
Here is what you must do to file this complaint.
First, the complaint must be signed twice by both Susan Sloat and Claudia Wilson before a notary public on the last page.
You should take this complaint along with at least 15 photocopies (assuming you have the money) to the nearest United States District Courthouse.
Apparently, you do not have the funds to pay a filing fee. In that case, the clerk will give you a Form 4 to fill out and be signed by the judge stating that you have no money. If the judge approves this, you will be allowed to file the complaint without paying a fee.
After that, they will file stamp the complaint. They will give you a form similar to the one I am enclosing. They will also issue a summons. You should then have someone mail to every one of the 14 defendants a copy of the summons, the complaint and the form for mailing.
It is also possible that the court will order the U.S. Marshalls to make service of process. However, the U.S. Marshalls are sometimes slow, and you naturally want quick action. Therefore, I suggest that you also keep a photocopy of the file stamped summons and complaint and have someone mail it directly to each defendant.
The procedures vary slightly from court to court. Therefore, you should follow exactly the instructions given to you by the clerk's office.
However, before doing any of this, you must reread carefully the complaint I have typed to make sure that it does not contain any mistakes. I have tried to write down the facts as best you gave them to me, but you must recheck carefully to make sure that everything written is correct.
I am enclosing a list of the names and the addresses of the defendants. You should provide a copy of this list to the clerk's office so that they will know whom to serve.
Rick Groff Amherst County Department of Social Services P. O. Box 414 Amherst, VA 24521
Jean Higgenbotham Amherst County Department of Social Services P. O. Box 414 Amherst, VA 24521
James C. Wray Route 2, Box 370 Monroe, VA 24574
Rebecca Wray Route 2, Box 370 Monroe, VA 24574
Yvonne Mintor Amherst County Health Department Amherst, VA 24521
Terry Barron Amherst County Heath Department Amherst, VA 24521
Yolanda Russell 197 Columbia Avenue Redwood City, Cal. 94063
Barbara Ann Grandstaff 108 Millstone Road Lynchburg, VA 24502
Waldo Grandstaff 108 Millstone Road Lynchburg, VA 24502
Victor Gosnell 323 Biltmore Ave. Lynchburg, VA 24502
Martha Gosnell 323 Biltmore Ave. Lynchburg, VA 24502
Lawrence Janow Amherst County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Amherst, VA 24521
Sheriff Michael Cox Amherst, Virginia. 24521
Governor of Virginia
Richmond, Virginia 23219