An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
Published Monday, July 28, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 148

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Contents copyrighted 2008 by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. (cédula juridica 3-101-290-170).  Republication without permission is prohibited under U.S. and Costa Rican laws and international conventions.

Texas judge unconvinced by Tomayko abuse claims
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge in Texas said that he thinks Chere Lyn Tomayko has not been telling the truth about abuse by her former boyfriend.

Judge William Harris was the original judge on the child custody case more than 11 years ago which has turned into an international kidnapping case and a heated issue between the U.S. Embassy and Costa Rican officials. In an unprecedented move Monday, the security minister granted refugee status to Ms. Tomayko, based largely on the mother's claim that her former boyfriend in Texas abused her.

When asked what he thought of Ms. Tomayko's current refugee status, Judge Harris said, “I think she is lying there just as she lied to me in court. I don't think she's changed.” He said Ms. Tomayko could be a very persuasive woman and must have persuaded someone in Costa Rica to believe her story.

Ms. Tomayko is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a U.S. federal court in Texas, on charges of kidnapping her daughter Alexandria in 1997. The former boyfriend and father to Alexandria, Roger Cyprian, still lives in Texas and has hired a Costa Rican lawyer.

During various hearings in Texas there was no evidence  to back up Ms. Tomayko's allegations of abuse, and, upon cross examinations, her stories were inconsistent, said Harris. He is still at the 233rd District Court in Fort Worth. He spoke to a reporter by telephone.

Harris added that as to his recollection, Ms. Tomayko did not even bring up allegations of abuse until he ruled that Cyprian be given visitations right to young Alexandria. The case had been going on for quite some time before Ms. Tomayko suddenly brought up the abuse allegations, said Harris. That was 11 years ago.

Judge Harris confirmed everything Cyprian has said in previous interviews:

• That Ms. Tomayko alleged the father sexually abused the girls and that medical evidence could not confirm the allegation.

• That Ms. Tomayko had previously fled from California and alienated her first child, Chandler, from her biological father as well.

• That Ms. Tomayko had no witnesses to back her claims, whereas Cyprian had numerous witnesses.

• That the case was long, and Ms. Tomayko continued to violate the judges orders, attempting to avoid the shared visitation.

When Harris was told that the Alexandria said here  on television that she remembers her father beating
her he said, “When a child has been programmed as long as this child has been, they can remember anything.”

Any practicing psychologist would confirm that memories can easily be changed, said Harris. Alexandria was about a years old when the child custody proceedings began in 1990. Ms. Tomayko fled to Costa Rica with her two daughters when Alexandria was about 7 years old.

The judge said Alexandria is now 18and that his jurisdiction in the case has ended, but that his rulings were considered “perfected judgments, final and conclusive” and could be used as evidence in the federal case.

Harris added that Ms. Tomayko violated court orders several times and that he held her in contempt. Harris said her behavior in court was passive aggressive.

“She seemed like a fairly charming and well spoken person,” said Harris, “We have people all the time who are nice folks except they commit serious crimes.” Fleeing the judicial jurisdiction brought Ms. Tomayko a federal indictment and put her on the F.B.I. 10-most wanted list.

Ms. Tomayko applied for refugee status here but was denied by the Dirección General de Migración. Ms. Del Vecchio decided to grant refugee status nevertheless, although no one here, including the news media, had talked to Cyprian or to Harris.

Even President Óscar Arias Sánchez said Friday that he was satisfied that the Sala IV constitutional court released Ms. Tomayko form Buen Pastor prison where she had fought extradition to the United States for 11 months. Arias downplayed what might happen to U.S.-Costa Rican relations due to the violation of the existing child abduction and extradition treaties. He called the case a small thing and said Costa Rica was a leader in protecting human rights.

Although she is free, the case is still an active one in the constitutional court where at least two briefs are attacking the grounds by which Ms. Del Vecchio awarded refugee status.

Ms. Tomayko was able to stay so long in Costa Rica because U.S. Embassy officials would not act. Employees there appear to be among those convinced by Ms. Tomayko''s story of abuse. Only when Alexandria Cyprian reached adulthood and could not be returned to her father was Ms. Tomayko detained. By then she had had two other children, these by an Heredia veterinarian. She married that man April 6.

Embassy officials and employees have not explained their lack of action, and most of the U.S. diplomats involved are now elsewhere.