Patrick Garmyn of Wauseon waits alone in the hall during a recess in the hearing to determine his visitation rights.
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NAPOLEON - A judge yesterday granted supervised visitation rights to a Wauseon father accused of having his daughter kidnapped from her mother in Russia last month.
Judge Keith Muehlfeld ruled in Henry County Common Pleas Court that Patrick Garmyn has the right to visit with his daughter, Amelia, pending a Sept. 17 hearing to discuss temporary custody of the girl.
The judge granted the same visitation rights to the girl's mother, Lolita Garmyn, if and when Ms. Garmyn arrives in the United States from Russia. But Judge Muehlfeld denied either parent any more access to the child, citing a long history of custody battles between the two.
“The court has concerns over her safety and welfare based on past actions of both parents,” the judge said.
Amelia, 6, has been living with an area foster family since July 26, when Mr. Garmyn turned her over to Henry County authorities at the court's request. Mr. Garmyn said he delivered Amelia to the sheriff's office immediately after the two arrived back in the United States.
He had received temporary custody of his daughter after her mother - formerly the custodial parent - took her to Russia last March against a court order.
The couple were married in 1995, and Mr. Garmyn filed for divorce three years later. Ms. Garmyn is a Russian citizen.
Mr. Garmyn said yesterday that he went to Kiev, Ukraine, last month to retrieve his daughter after he received a mysterious telephone call at his Fulton County home. He said the caller told him where to go to pick up his child.
Amelia Garmyn, 6, has been living with a foster family in the area since July 26, when her father turned her over to Henry County authorities.
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Initially he thought the call was too good to be true. He said he's tried a variety of tactics to bring his daughter home from Russia, all to no avail.
“I thought it could have been a setup,” he said after court yesterday. “I was scared it wasn't real.”
The father said he flew to Kiev and was taken by a taxi driver to a city street, where he was reunited with his child. He said he and Amelia then flew to Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, London, and then Toronto before arriving back in the United States.
“She was quite excited about coming back home,” he said.
During court testimony, Mr. Garmyn invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself when asked who was with his child in Kiev or how she got there from Russia.
He also declined to answer a question from Ms. Garmyn's attorney, Pam Weaner, about whether he hired someone to take his daughter from her mother. “On my attorney's advice and for all the other American children being held, I invoke my Fifth Amendment right,” he said.
But Mr. Garmyn denied in court having anything to do with his former wife's accusation that three men on July 19 entered her home, tied her and her mother up and drugged them, and then took her child.
Ms. Weaner said yesterday that her client was forced to flee to Russia last year with her daughter out of concern for her and the girl's safety.
She also asked Judge Muehlfeld to “err on the side of safety” in granting visitation rights to Mr. Garmyn.
She said Ms. Garmyn learned yesterday she has been granted a visa to return to the United States. She said Ms. Garmyn should arrive within the next several days, but she wouldn't disclose her client's whereabouts.
Ms. Weaner said Ms. Garmyn will be attending custody hearings scheduled next month and again in October.
She said Ms. Garmyn will seek to terminate Mr. Garmyn's parental rights and designate her the sold custodial parent.
Mr. Garmyn has asked the court to declare him Amelia's residential parent and to determine her best interests.