CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman back in the United States after fleeing with her mother and stepfather a decade ago in a custody case is begging a judge to allow contact with her mother, who faces trial next month, and calls her stepfather “the only man I consider to be my dad.”
In her legal motion obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Mary Nunes, who is expected to testify on behalf of her mother, Genevieve Kelley, also asks that her testimony be recorded before trial.
“I beg the court to have compassion on me,” she says in the document dated Friday. “No matter how you look at it, I am the victim in this case.”
Genevieve and Scott Kelley of New Hampshire are charged with custodial interference and witness tampering for disappearing with Mary in 2004, after her mother alleged the girl’s father — Genevieve Kelley’s ex-husband — abused the child. The father was investigated but never charged, and investigators said they believed he was unfairly accused. In her statement, Nunes says she was sexually abused by him.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they were sexually abused, but Mary’s name and image have been widely distributed during the years she was missing and she publicly makes the sexual abuse allegation in the latest court filing.
Her father and the prosecutor on the case, John McCormick, said they had not seen the motion and declined to comment.
Genevieve Kelley, 51, a family practice doctor, surrendered to authorities in November; she isn’t allowed to have contact with Nunes or Scott Kelley, who both arrived in Atlanta on a flight from Costa Rica on April 15. Scott Kelley, 50, a special education teacher, was arrested at the airport and currently is awaiting extradition from Georgia. He also plans to testify on his wife’s behalf.
In the motion, Nunes says her mother and stepfather protected her, “and I asked them to do it.” She also says, “Scott is the only man I consider to be my dad; he is a wonderful person who did no harm.”
The motion is the first time Nunes has made a public statement since she disappeared. Her whereabouts had been undisclosed, but the motion was notarized in Boulder County, Colorado.
“I want the opportunity to live again as normally as possible with my mother, dad (Scott), and brother, John,” said Nunes, referring to the couple’s 10-year-old son who was born while they were in hiding.
Accompanying Nunes’ statement is a letter from a psychotherapist in Costa Rica, Johanna Alpizar Cespedes, who says she’s been treating the young woman since 2011 for anxiety and stress stemming from her childhood abuse. Cespedes also asks that Nunes be allowed to testify by video, saying she is not emotionally prepared to testify in public.
A judge has previously denied the request to allow Nunes to testify by videotape.
Genevieve Kelley has said she and Scott Kelley fled because they were trying to protect Mary. Mother and child had been ordered by a judge to appear for an evaluation in 2004 but didn’t show up. Genevieve Kelley later said she worked with the family court system, to no avail.
Nunes’ father, pediatrician Mark Nunes, has denied the abuse allegations. He attempted to regain the visitation rights that were suspended when the allegations were made and was ultimately awarded custody in December 2004, after authorities couldn’t reach the Kelleys and learned that Mary hadn’t been to school.
Remarried with two children, Mark Nunes has never given up hope of reuniting with his daughter and has said he is afraid she is without an advocate looking out for her best interests. A prosecutor’s request to have a lawyer appointed for her was denied.
Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
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