An Oklahoma man convicted of raping his then 6-year-old stepdaughter in 1995 was awarded custody of his other daughter, who is now 6 years old herself.
Nicholas Elizondo, 55, was convicted in 1995 of committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 14 and served six years in jail. He completed parole and probation in 2001 and later married Lisa Knight. The couple had a little girl named Sarah, who Elizondo stayed in contact with after the couple divorced in 2008. Knight had custody of Sarah.
According to court documents, however, Elizondo sued for custody of his daughter when Knight stopped allowing him to see Sarah.
“I just know that his victim was 6 years old at the time, and Sarah is 6 years old right now,” Knight said. She claims Elizondo has had little interest in seeing his daughter up until now, only bringing her gifts and then leaving. She says she does not want to imagine why he had the change of heart.
In court, Elizondo’s attorney claimed his first victim was coerced into accusing him, NewsChannel 4 reported. He claims his ex-wife Knight is doing the same thing to him now.
When Judge Howard Haralson gave his decision, the family was shocked. They say Sarah barely knows her father.
Croomer said as a registered sex offender Elizondo cannot take Sarah to places where there are children.
“He can't take her to Chuck E. Cheese. He can't take her to a park,” Coomer said. “He can't go to her school. He's not allowed in school.”
Her mother’s family never imagined that Elizondo would be awarded custody.
“His attorney was in the chambers with the judge while he was deliberating his decision,” Coomer told NewsChannel 4. “There was laughter coming from the room. We waited for what seemed like hours but it was just minutes.”
Croomer said she believe the judge questioned Knight’s parenting when she could not name all of Sarah’s doctors of the top of her head. The 6 year old was born with a cleft palate and sees many different specialists.
“There is no threat to her whatsoever here," Coomer said. "Nothing's happened to her. She's made all of her appointments. Because mom can't remember the doctor's names then she's a bad mom? I don't think so.”
“I don't understand how a sex offender can just walk in the courtroom and just take her after I’ve had her for six years,” Knight said.
Knight’s family alleges that Sarah came home from a visit to her father’s house in California alleging that her half-brother touched her inappropriately in the bathtub. They are trying to figure out what they can do to keep Sarah's half-brother away from her while she is living with Elizondo.
The family is still trying to fight the custody ruling, but they do not have the money to cover court costs.