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Internet twins' U.S. adoptive father charged with molestation


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Bail set at $150,000

Attorney pulls out

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SAN BERNARDINO, California (CNN) -- Richard Allen, one of the parents involved in an international tug-of-war over twin baby girls adopted over the Internet, pleaded not guilty Friday to child molestation charges in a case concerning two babysitters.

The San Bernardino District Attorney's Office charged Allen with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child and one count of indecent exposure.

Allen is accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl who was baby-sitting at the Allens' Highland, California, home, as well as her sister, a 14-year-old girl who also baby-sat for the Allens. The alleged incidents took place last November.

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"The charges are wrong," said Allen's wife, Vickie Allen. "We believe he is innocent. The whole family believes in his innocence."

The Allens and a couple living in Britain, Alan and Judith Kilshaw, used the same Internet site, the "Caring Heart Adoption," to adopt the same set of twin baby girls.

Each went through a San Diego-based facilitator for the arrangements. The Allens have said they paid $6,000 in fees to adopt the girls. The Kilshaws also paid several thousand dollars for the adoption.

On January 19, the babies were placed in the hands of British authorities pending the outcome of court proceedings.

Bail set at $150,000

Allen was arraigned Friday afternoon in San Bernardino, California. He has remained in custody since his arrest Wednesday. Bail was set at $150,000.

Additionally, San Bernardino Child Protective Services and sheriff deputies went to the Allen home Thursday night and removed their 2-year-old adopted son.

The boy is now in the custody of the county, according to authorities, but no reason was given for his removal.

John Giffen, the adoption attorney for Richard Allen, said he was now taking a "wait-and-see approach" on the matter.

On Thursday, Giffen told CNN the molestation investigation of his client was a "setback" for the adoption matter.

"It's got to be the worst possible type of charge for someone who is trying to adopt," said Giffen.

Attorney pulls out

In fact, the Allens' attorney on Thursday announced he was withdrawing from the case. "We don't think it advisable, with this type of charge pending, to go forward representing someone seeking custody of a child," said Lynn Lisk of Little Rock, Arkansas, where the British couple finalized the adoption.

In another development on Thursday, a Missouri state judge ruled that the twins be returned from Britain to St. Louis, Missouri, according to an attorney involved in the case.

Last month, a judge awarded the babies' birth father, Aaron Wecker , temporary custody of the twins, but he gave that up Thursday. Attorneys said that was done to speed up the court process.

Wecker and the twins' birth mother Tranda Wecker separated shortly after the twin girls were born June 26 in St. Louis.

Gloria Allred of Los Angeles, California, one of Tranda Wecker's attorneys, said that the St. Louis court would have jurisdiction if courts in Britain and Arkansas agree.



RELATED STORIES:
Internet adopting dad faces molestation charges
March 1, 2001
Internet twins couple to leave UK
February 4, 2001
Net twins couples reject mother return
February 2, 2001
Internet adoption couple face writ
February 2, 2001
TV showdown for adoption couples
February 1, 2001
Internet twins to stay in care
January 23, 2001

RELATED SITE:
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department
  • Crimes Against Children Unit
Adopting.com - Internet Adoption Resources

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