RUTHERFORDTON — Tuesday afternoon, District Court Judge David Fox handed down a visitation order with a serious stipulation before postponing the hearing involving Shana Muse‘s efforts to reunite with her two youngest children.
Judge Fox, agreed to let Muse’s two daughters, who have been emancipated and and have returned to the Word of Faith Fellowship, to have twohours of unsupervised vistation with their younger brothers.
The stipulation is that the girls not attempt to discuss their religion with their siblings.
Muse is a former Word of Faith Fellowship member whose four children were placed in DSS custody by an October 2003 court order which found the WOFF environment abusive.
That ruling, by Judge Randy Pool, was appealed and the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruling is expected in the coming weeks.
Muse left the WOFF in September 2002 and ultimately sought counseling at a cult deprogramming center in Ohio. Muse left her children with the Covingtons during her time away and signed a agreement giving them temporary custody.
Muse returned and tried get her children back. DSS got involved and argued that Muse’s act of leaving the children in a WOFF home was wrong because of the abuse DSS argues occurs in WOFF settings.
Muse actually supported DSS’s argument because it amounted to the removal of the children from the WOFF setting.
Muse is the mother of two young boys under the age of 15. Her daughters are older and have been given emancipation by a separate court ruling.
The girls were seated beside WOFF ministers Kent and Brooke Covington for the duration of the hearing in the Superior Court-room at the courthouse.
The boys’ guardian ad litem made a motion to allow the four children to visit one another.
DSS lawyer Marvin Sparrow objected to the visitations on the grounds that the girls might attempt to share their religious views with the young boys.
The judge ordered the girls not to speak of their faith in the presence of their younger brothers.
“Can your restrain your evangelical enthusiasm if it means you can visit with your younger siblings,” Judge Fox asked the girls in the courtroom.
The girls answered in the affirmative and Fox ordered that the children be allowed to meet for two hours a week unsupervised.
“The boys are so young and they are being pulled in all directions,” said Muse.
Muse has been fighting to get her children back since Oct. of 2003. This is the fourth time the custody hearing has been delayed
A new date for the hearing was not set Tuesday as the new DSS Court calendar is in the planning stages.
Fox said that he would be happy to preside over the case but he was not going to get it started at 4 p.m. with no future days set to follow.
Staffwriter Jerry Stensland contributed to this report.
Feb. 16, 2005
Josh Humphries, Daily Courier Staff Writer