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August 7, 2005

Deaf parents return to son in Wyoming

From: Lincoln Journal Star, NE - Aug 7, 2005

By the Lincoln Journal Star

Vicki and Eric Neuman, the deaf parents of a hearing child, spent two days at court hearings in Hastings before returning to their home in Wyoming.

Though they face possible jail time for taking their son back to Wyoming, thus violating a Nebraska court order, the two were not jailed when they were in court a week ago.

For two years, the Neumans have been involved in a court battle with relatives over custody of their 6-year-old son, Matthew.

The relatives, Ron and Dena Hohlen, contend Matthew was neglected, perhaps abused, when he lived with his parents. At 4, he was not toilet-trained and could not talk, according to documents and testimony in the court case.

The Neumans say they are good parents who were struggling with marriage problems when the guardianship battle began.

For two years Matthew lived with the Hohlens, his aunt and uncle, who had temporary guardianship while the judge looked at the issues.

Frustrated with the slow-moving case, the Neumans in July took Matthew to Wyoming, in violation of a court order.

Back in Wyoming they gave legal guardianship of Matthew to friends, a maneuver intended to keep Matthew from being returned to Nebraska.

The case is being followed closely within the deaf community.

And Dr. Phil has called seeking to get all the people involved on his show "to try and hash things out," said Leslie Shelton. Leslie and her husband are Matthew's legal guardians in Wyoming, where the boy is living with his parents.

Because the Neumans apparently violated a Nebraska court order, the couple faced violation of custody, a criminal misdemeanor charge.

Adams County Judge Robert Ide also had held them in contempt of court with a 15-day jail sentence for refusing to return Matthew to the Hohlens in Nebraska.

The Neumans' attorney, Tom Lieske, delayed action on the contempt order and jail sentence with a petition to the state's Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for the Neumans have asked the court to cancel the misdemeanor charges. A Friday hearing is set for that criminal issue.

Hearings on the civil guardianship case are also scheduled to continue on Friday, if interpreters are available, and on Aug. 29 and 30, according to the Adams County Court clerk's office.

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