The latest update from the Columbus Dispatch
An Ohio court today ordered that authorities monitor telephone and Internet use of Fatima Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old religious runaway who left Columbus for Orlando over the summer.
The girl has yet to return from Florida.
At a dependency hearing today, both sides in the case agreed to continue the case until next month.
Her phone and Internet use will be monitored by Franklin County Children Services.
So the dependency hearing was held without Rifqa being present. Just shows what the law can get away with when you’re still a minor. Obviously the Constitution doesn’t apply under the age of 18.
The real story is that no one wants to touch this case, and the closer you get to home base the less they want to deal with it.
At least one point has been cleared up:
On Friday, a Florida judge issued the order to transfer Rifqa into the care of Franklin County Children Services. She will live with a foster family on her return.
The Florida Department of Children and Families, which has had custody of Rifqa since August, would not release details about her trip back to Ohio for safety reasons. The state of Florida will pay for the trip.
So she is not returning to her home immediately.
And we know when the next hearing is:
The dependency hearing in Franklin County Juvenile Court was continued until Nov. 16.
Franklin County Juvenile Court Magistrate Mary Goodrich ordered Children Services to monitor Rifqa’s phone and Internet use.
Though the paper doesn’t report who asked for this restriction, it is a safe bet that the director of Child Services made that request regarding Ms. Bary’s access to the outside world. They will cut her ties with anyone in Florida.
Rifqa’s uncertain immigration status threatened to delay her return; Judge Daniel P. Dawson of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida said he wanted documentation of her status before sending her back.
Note that in Florida her case was kicked up from Juvenile Court to the Circuit Court. That may happen again in Ohio.
Here is a possible sticking point:
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Her immigration status still remains unknown to the public. She is a native of Sri Lanka, and an attorney in the Florida case raised questions about whether she’s in the country legally.
It’s conceivable that Ms. Bary could request asylum but how likely that is to be honored is questionable. For one thing, the inept police investigations, including interviews with Rifqa without her legal counsel present, are going to be used against her.
For another, the community response to her return appears to be mostly negative and quite heated.
From what I’ve read of the Noor Mosque, which is the one the father chose for the family, Rifqa’s return to Ohio will put her in proximate danger. Not immediate harm; they are no doubt patient. However, if her case follows the pattern, she may eventually pay the price for her public apostasy.
As I have said repeatedly, good case work practice would suggest that this “child” apply for emancipation as a minor and to begin, via her foster care worker, a Life Skills Training Program.
However, I don’t know family law in Ohio. It may be that at 17 years old she can acquire legal “emancipated minor” status just by requesting it and abiding by the supervisory rules: school attendance (she was an honors student), no drugs, strict curfew, etc.