Miccosukee tribe takes baby from hospital. Rubio calls it a kidnapping
'This won't end well for the tribe if they don't return the child,' senator says
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Police officers from a Florida Indian tribe took a newborn baby from a Kendall hospital Sunday against the wishes of the girl's parents, a lawyer for the couple said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, came out strongly against the tribe, calling the incident a kidnapping.
"Miccosukee tribe police used a tribal court order to kidnap a newborn baby from parents in a Miami hospital," Rubio said. "They don't have any jurisdiction outside the reservation. I'm in contact with federal officials, and this won't end well for the tribe if they don't return the child ASAP."
Miccosukee tribe police officers showed the staff at Baptist Hospital a tribal court order and the hospital staff complied with it, attorney Bradford Cohen said. The story was first reported by the Miami Herald.
"The detective asked me if I knew what was going on. I said, 'No. I don't know what's going on.' And then he said, 'Well, your baby is being taken. She's no longer in your custody. You're not her mother anymore,'" the baby's mother, Rebecca Sanders, said.
Sanders and the child's father, Justin Johnson, said that the order is a sham and was driven by Sanders' mother, Betty Osceola. Sanders said her mother did not want the baby to be raised by Johnson, who is white.
"My client's mother was very upset that the non-Miccosukee tribe father would have access to the baby," Cohen said.
The order claims that Johnson had abused Osceola's other grandchildren.
"My granddaughter Annamae Kelly and grandson Christian Kelly told me Justin Johnson hit them sometime in the month of February," Osceola wrote. "Both of my grandchildren are afraid of him."
Born Friday, the child, Ingrid Ronan Johnson, is in the care of Osceola. Attempts to reach Osceola's lawyer late Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Cohen is now fighting for custody and claims the tribal court's order was filled with errors.
"The proper way to do this was to be in state court and get the tribal order ratified by a state or federal court, which wasn't done," Cohen said.
#Miccosukee tribe police used tribal court order to kidnap newborn baby from parents in #Miami hospital. They don’t have any jurisdiction outside reservation. I’m in contact with fed officials & this won’t end well for tribe if they don’t return child asaphttps://t.co/RPaL5tqWQV— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 21, 2018
Miami-Dade police said they were investigating the case.
Dori Robau Alvarez, corporate director for marketing and communications for Baptist Hospital, said she can't comment on specific patients because of privacy laws, but the hospital's policy is to follow court orders. She told the Miami Herald that Miami-Dade police officers accompanied the tribal officers.
"Baptist Hospital falls under the jurisdiction of the Miami-Dade County Police Department and complies with state and federal laws," Alvarez said in a statement. "It is our hospital's policy to cooperate with Miami-Dade law enforcement as they enforce court orders."
An emergency hearing about the case has been set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in tribal court.
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