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Lawsuit alleging unlawful adoption cites RICO Act

A very interesting case touching on the issues of family law, adoption and fathers' rights has recently been filed in the state of Utah. What makes this case so remarkable, however, is that it not only seeks $130 million in damages for an alleged unlawful adoption, but also cites the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law typically used in the prosecution of organized crime.

According to the complaint, a man we'll call Jake fathered a child with a woman who he believed was legally divorced from her husband. While the woman expressed an interest in putting the baby up for adoption, Jake indicated that he wanted to raise the child, even if it meant acting as a single father.

The complaint goes on to state that the woman lied to Jake about her plans for the child, both giving birth and signing documents relinquishing her parental rights in secret.

Upon learning that the child had been placed with an adoptive couple, Jake filed a paternity action the next day. However, he later discovered that the woman had never divorced from her husband. This coupled with the fact that he had not registered with the state's putative father registry during the pregnancy meant that the woman's estranged husband was legally considered to be the father of the child.

The lawsuit then states that the estranged husband -- acting under undue influence exerted by an adoption agency employee -- signed over his parental rights, and that two lawyers handling the adoption rushed the matter through the adoption court without mention of the underlying paternity action.

In short, the lawsuit claims the woman/birth mother, adoption agency, adoptive parents and aforementioned attorneys committed wire fraud, human trafficking and the selling of a child, as well as both racketeering and kidnapping under the RICO Act. It also accuses the defendants of violating Utah's Adoption Act.

As for the rather large amount of damages, the attorney representing Jake claims that $30 million is for the loss of the ability to raise and enjoy his child, while the remaining $100 million is all about raising awareness as to the inadequacy of state law.

"[The $100 million in damages is] an amount specifically designed to serve as a deterrent to this kind of conduct," said the attorney. "Under the Utah Adoption Act, you can commit fraud, and it is not a basis to overturn an otherwise illegal adoption, you can sue for damages. ... So you can't get your child back if there's a fraudulent adoption, but you can get money."

It should be very interesting to see how this case unfolds. Stay tuned for updates ...

Those fathers with concerns about child custody, visitation rights or relocations here in Texas should strongly consider speaking with an experienced fathers' rights attorney dedicated to protecting their best interests in negotiations and contested hearings.

Source: KSL TV, "Unwed father alleges racketeering in adoption lawsuit," Emiley Morgan and Carole Mikita, Dec. 30, 2013

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