Father wins custody of Phoenix girl brutally beaten by her mother
“I am happy … I am ecstatic. I am playing with her. She is safe now. I can take care of her and make sure nothing will go wrong again‚” the dad‚ who cannot be named‚ told TimesLIVE.
It has been a gruelling year for the call centre agent after he discovered his then four-year-old daughter lying in a hospital bed‚ with severe head and leg injuries a week after the beating‚ which was filmed by the mother’s boyfriend and later went “viral” on social media in March.
At that time‚ the mother had accused the father of having molested the child and his alternative weekend visits had been stopped.
With the assistance of his attorney‚ Kelvin Walker‚ advocate Debbie Ainsley‚ forensic psychologist Phillipa Styles — who all acted pro bono — and child psychologist Sarah van Niekerk‚ who drastically reduced her fees‚ he began the battle to clear his name.
After spending eight weeks in hospital‚ his daughter had been living with a temporary foster family until now.
“He visited her at all permissible times‚” Walker told TimesLIVE.
“And he established a wonderful bond with her. He also attended psychological counselling with her.
“There were tears all round at court today. We could see her in the social workers’ office and she kept peeking through the glass in the door and waving at her dad.
“He gave her a teddy bear and she clutched onto it as they left court.”
Walker said the dad had to prove that the allegations against him were not true.
“All the reports‚ including a child welfare social report‚ came to the conclusion that he had not done anything wrong.
“The magistrate asked that the mother also submit a psychologist’s report but she did not do so. She was legally represented but they did not challenge the findings in the reports.”
Walker said his client had a fantastic group of supporters – and money raised by community members at the time when the video was put out on social media‚ was in his trust account and would be used for more therapy sessions.
He said at this stage the mother could have no contact with the child.
“I pointed out that the state would not want this‚ given the fact that the little girl is the main witness in the criminal matter.”
Child welfare officials will continue to monitor the care of the child for a “reasonable period”.
The mom and her boyfriend‚ who are both facing charges of attempted murder‚ will appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court again next month