The four children, two boys and female twins were aged 13, 10 and 8 at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. They were all born in the United States and lived there all of their lives. The parents were separated. The children remained in the actual care of the mother.
In the summer of 1998 the children alleged that the father had sexually assaulted them. The Loudoun County Department of Social Services undertook an investigation and found that sexual abuse had occurred in respect of the two boys but was “unfounded” in respect of the girls. As a result the father was convicted and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, without parole.
In early 1999 the mother applied to the Loudoun District Court for permission to leave the USA with the children. On 29 July an injunction was issued preventing the children from going to New Zealand
Nevertheless the mother took the children to New Zealand, arriving there on 17 August. On 8 February 2000 the father escaped from jail but was soon recaptured. In April 2000 he formulated a plan to arrange for his two sons to be re-abducted from New Zealand. He was convicted and received five years imprisonment to run concurrently with his existing sentence.
On 10 July the father filed an application for the return of the children.
On 27 July the Loudoun Department of Social Services conducted an appeal hearing in respect of its previous decision. The outcome of this hearing, which was attended neither by the mother nor by the children was that the disposition “Founded – sexual abuse” in relation to the boys was amended to “Unfounded”. It was indicated that the children’s allegations were not credible and that the allegations emanated from the mother.