Abducted Ashley Gonis Still Can’t See Her Father

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Never in the history of the world has there been a situation so bad that the government can’t make it worse. — Unknown author

Ashley Gonis, who went missing in 2007, is expected to be reunited with her father

Ashley Gonis

Frank Gonis of Montreal, Canada, hasn’t seen his 10 year old daughter Ashley in two years. His ex, Araceli Bravo, illegally abducted her in January 2007 and took her to British Columbia to keep her from seeing her father despite court orders that required her to share custody of their daughter. An arrest warrant was issued for her in Quebec, but she wasn’t found until Ashley dialed 911 from a train station pay phone to get help after running away from her mother.

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Daughter Alleges Child Abuse Against Mother

According to one media report from TheStar.com, Ashley told the police that she was fleeing from an abusive situation. Vancouver police investigated and claim the allegations are “unsubstantiated.” Given that the girl is so young and has not seen her father in two years, it is implausible that she was making up abuse allegations at her father’s bidding. Parental alienation is child abuse, and parental abduction is one of the extreme methods of parental alienation. Apparently Vancouver police find it difficult to understand what child abuse really means, despite the widespread understanding in many other areas that what Bravo did is considered child abuse.

Mother Abducted Child Due to Impending Child Custody Decision

Bravo abducted Ashley apparently because she couldn’t accept the reality of having to share custody of the girl with her father.

(from Long road ahead for Quebec dad, estranged daughter)

Gonis said “I love her, and I can’t wait to hold her again” but admitted there is “a lot of work to be done with Ashley.”

He told Canada AM he has been locked in a custody battle with Ashley’s mother since their split in 2001.

When the battle was finally coming to an end two years ago, and it looked as though Gonis was to receive custody, Ashley and her mother disappeared.

Gonis said he realizes it will take time and hard work to develop trust and renew a relationship with his daughter.

“I haven’t seen her so it’s hard to say, but the comment I got was her mother has done a real number on her. I know there’s parental alienation. She’s scared to talk to me. There are a lot of things we have to go through,” he said.

Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children’s Network Canada, said Gonis’ situation is common among estranged parents.

British Columbia Government Prevents Father/Daughter Contact

Although it has been a month since police showed up to help Ashley, she still hasn’t been able to see her father. Canadian media reports contradict each other, with some claiming she has not even been able to speak with her father on the phone. (It would be nice if journalists could at least get a simple fact like this straight and consistent.)

The lack of contact is not because her father doesn’t care. He traveled to Vancouver in April 2009 shortly after Ashley was found by the police in a train station. He spent 10 days there trying to contact his daughter. But the B.C. government won’t permit him a visit or by most accounts even a phone call.

Consequently, Ashley was put into protective foster care in Vancouver rather than being returned to her father. This is despite the facts that on March 12, 2009, Quebec courts awarded sole legal custody to Gonis because of Bravo’s child abduction and refusal to cooperate with shared custody and that Montreal police issued an arrest warrant for her.

The British Columbia government has as its excuse that the arrest warrant was not an “all Canada” warrant and is only valid in Quebec. Perfecting the arrest warrant to be applicable to British Columbia still hasn’t been done, even though Montreal police applied to get the warrant extended to British Columbia on April 15, 2009. The custody order from a Quebec court won’t be recognized by B.C. until approved by B.C.’s Supreme Court. Bravo is contesting it, claiming she wasn’t “properly notified” of the order. And Bravo is now seeking custody in British Columbia.

Putting on my “judge’s gown,” here’s how I’d see this. Mother runs away with child for years in violation of a court order with intent to deprive her of a father, then she claims the resulting change in custody is invalid because she wasn’t notified. Applying this thinking to other types of crime, the results look like Bernie Madoff claiming “But judge, I should be immune from prosecution and be able to keep the billions I took because I wasn’t properly notified to return the money after I took it.” Apparently that drivel passes for legal reasoning in Canada. Sadly, it probably would pass for legal reasoning in many Western nations (US, UK, etc.) with their sexist laws and two-faced legal standards.

British Columbia Government is Irresponsible and Negligent

What the B.C. government is really doing is legitimizing parental abduction and parental alienation. Further, it is sending a very clear message to women that in British Columbia, females who break the law and hurt children and fathers can get away with it. B.C. is inviting a surge of cases like this one by making it appear mothers from other Canadian provinces will be let off the hook for their crimes if they flee to B.C.

The B.C. government will not even allow Ashley any contact with her father, despite him being clearly awarded legal custody and the her displeasure with her mother’s treatment of her as indicated by running away from her mother.

This Canadian child and her father are being put through a foolish and abusive court system that deals with inter-province child abduction in Canada even more slowly and ineptly than if an international child abduction had occurred. Had Bravo taken her to the United States or another signatory nation of the Hague Convention on International Parental Child Abduction, Ashley might have been reunited with her father by now.

(from Montreal father of missing girl found in B.C. still fighting to see her)

Edward Kruk, a University of British Columbia social work professor, said the B.C. government has been negligent in not helping Gonis reunite with his daughter.

“This is really the priority here,” said Kruk, a child custody expert.

“They should be doing a lot more in terms of family support, family reunification and preservation.”

Child Custody Fight Being Reignited

Gonis has spent $15,000 on the situation so far, but is growing frustrated as the Canadian “family law” system shows how it is dysfunctional in dealing with child abduction across provincial borders. He may have to fight for custody all over again in British Columbia with an ex who broke the law yet hasn’t been arrested and could get away with it due to Canada’s defective national child abduction laws.

B.C.’s Legal Fees May Be Unconstitutional

Part of the problem for Frank Gonis is that British Columbia charges extortionary court fees. These impede access to the courts and justice for anybody who is not wealthy. Similar egregiously large court fees were ruled unconstitutional in Nova Scotia.

Gonis already fought a legal battle in Quebec lasting years and costing in excess of $30,000. But apparently B.C. wants its “cut of the money” in this case. By allowing the legal games of Bravo, B.C. will get revenue by allowing a whole new round of expensive legal battles for which it can collect large court fees.

B.C.’s Commitment to Applying Laws to Abusive Women is Questionable

This latest B.C. debacle is coming on the heels of another recent domestic dispute being mishandled by B.C. law enforcement and courts, the death of Surrey, B.C. resident Adam Cunningham after his assault at the hands of his wife Ellie Cunningham. British Columbia residents should be wondering whether their government has any real interest in protecting men and children from abusive women or in prosecuting women when they break the law.

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Further Reading

Ashley Gonis to Return to Montreal, Placed in Foster Care

Araceli Bravo Arrested for Abducting Daughter Ashley Gonis

B.C. family law blocks Quebec dad from seeing daughter

Long road ahead for Quebec dad, estranged daughter

Montreal father of missing girl found in B.C. still fighting to see her

Dad hoped for daughter’s return

Montreal man ready for dad-daughter reunion after 2-year custody battle

Girl, 10, found two years after alleged kidnapping

Canadian Wife Assaults Husband Who Later Dies

Do B.C.’s court costs impede justice?

Reuniting with His Daughter Not as Easy as He Thought

Montreal dad in custody fight after missing daughter found in B.C.

Montreal dad eager for reunion with young daughter found in B.C.

  1. Canuck-Lover
    May 20th, 2009 at 18:59 | #1

    It’s sad to see that Canada is just as screwed up as the United States, maybe more so in some ways. All the Canadians I’ve met are bright and reasonable people. Too bad their government doesn’t seem the same.

  2. todd
    May 23rd, 2009 at 00:09 | #2

    did someone check the criminal past of the father?

  3. Jeremy
    May 27th, 2009 at 19:36 | #3

    BC police have finally arrested Araceli Bravo for child abduction. Hopefully this will mean Ashley is returned to her father immediately rather than BC screwing over the family further.

    Mother of “missing” 10-year-old girl arrested in B.C.

  4. gen
    June 1st, 2009 at 17:52 | #4

    father is a well known criminal. The mother of Ashley stayed with her daughter in women shelter for conjugal violence because of him for years in montreal. Please check your info !!

    • Chris
      June 1st, 2009 at 22:57 | #5

      None of the several newspaper and TV stories we reviewed about this case mention anything about a criminal record regarding Mr. Gonis. If you can point out specific information that says otherwise, then please do so.

      Considering what we’ve seen of false accusations by parents who alienate and abduct children, it would not surprise us if Araceli Bravo were to claim that Mr. Gonis is a criminal who has abused her and Ashley by means ranging all the way from yelling and screaming to physical assault with chainsaws and holy water, dissecting and then resurrecting them multiple times, and gang rapes involving the population of a local prison led by Mr. Gonis. A person like this alleging crimes and abuse doesn’t mean it is true.

      In short, people like Araceli Bravo, Melinda Stratton, and Ann-Louise Valette have zero credibility. Their cases have been litigated in the courts for years, they appear to have engaged in parental alienation behaviors for years, and then they ran away with children for whom they do not have sole legal custody. If applying the term “criminal” to anybody in these cases is warranted, it certainly seems it would apply to these alienating abductors.

  5. Licia
    July 7th, 2009 at 02:13 | #6

    My son and I were Araceli & Ashleys neighbor for a year at a womens shelter in Vancouver. I had many indepth conversations with both Araceli and Ashley about their experiences with her father (a well-known criminal I should add)and his parents. This did not just come from Araceli but on several occasions from Ashley. Please everyone get your facts straight before painting a halo over Frank Gonis head. You are going to be surprised when the truth comes out about this man and his father(the grandfather

  6. July 7th, 2009 at 17:21 | #7

    Where’s the proof that Frank Gonis is a criminal? Please cite a case number, newspaper article, or something else that provides information to back this claim up. Otherwise, it looks like you are defaming the man and assisting a person who appears to be a parental alienator (Araceli Bravo) at causing more damage.

    What it appears Araceli Bravo has done with false accusations, violating custody orders, and fleeing has earned her an arrest warrant and charges for parental abduction. That’s a fact reported in many newspapers in Canada.

    It seems the Canadian legal system allows alienating parents to pull these stunts and harm their children and their other parent with alarming frequency. For instance, here’s another similar-sounding case.

    Andrade, Franklin, Montreal, QU: Falsely accused father, abductions of my children to Winnipeg from Montreal

    Because he was able to show his wife’s allegations were false in Quebec, she fled to Manitoba and filed for a protection order there. The father went to court to get rid of the “protection order” that was issued in another province without providing a chance to defend himself as he had already successfully done in Quebec. He claims the court won’t even allow him to contest the order blocking him from seeing his children because there is no address on file to contact his wife.

    That’s truly outrageous to deprive somebody of fundamental civil and legal rights because there’s not an address for the accuser on file.

  1. May 20th, 2009 at 07:18 | #1
  2. May 28th, 2009 at 20:46 | #2
  3. July 7th, 2009 at 18:38 | #3
  4. September 16th, 2010 at 22:27 | #4

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