Ohio Family Court


From cincinnatipas.com:

April 15, 2005

with Stone Phillips”
reported by Keith Morrison


Peggy Farmer “On The Run” From
The Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court


Announcer: Tonight on an all new DATELINE…

Ms. PEGGY FARMER: She started praying, `Mommy, let the angels take me to
heaven, so that I don’t have to do this anymore.’

Announcer: …they lived like fugitives in secret and in fear.  A desperate
mother who took drastic action: kidnapped her own child.

KEITH MORRISON reporting: What would happen to you now if you walked back into
the United States?

Ms. FARMER: I’m sure I would go to jail.

Announcer: New homes, new identities, running one step ahead of the law.  But
what are they running from?  Tonight, DATELINE takes you inside an emotional
family battle.

Mr. BILL BAILEY: It feels like your world just ended.

Announcer: A mother takes flight, leaving a father in pain.

MORRISON: Do you have any idea where they went?


Announcer: And a fragile child named Bethany caught in the middle.

Judge CATHY BOELLER KOCH: It was tragic.  It had tragic results for the child.

Announcer: What was the reason that she vanished?  Can an explosive videotape
get at the truth.

BETHANY: (From videotape) I am through or sick of him.

Dr. CAROLYN JENKINS: (From videotape) I need to know why.

Announcer: After nine years in hiding, they emerged to tell their story.  Will
they hear a father’s plea to the daughter who disappeared?

Mr. BAILEY: (Reading) “Bethany, I’m hoping this message finds you, and finds
you well.”

Announcer: Keith Morrison with a heart-stopping, family tug-of-war over a
little girl lost.  On The Run, when DATELINE with Stone Phillips continues.



Announcer: And now with On The Run, here is Stone Phillips.

STONE PHILLIPS: Good evening.  They lived lives underground, changing homes,
cities, countries, even their identities.  A mother and child in hiding, one
step ahead of the law.  What would drive a parent to such desperate measures:
defying authorities, kidnapping her own daughter, and virtually disappearing?
The mother you’re about to meet says she’s doing what any mother would:
protecting her child from unspeakable harm.  But was her child ever really in
danger?  Here’s Keith Morrison.

Ms. PEGGY FARMER: I used to have nightmares that I was walking down a street,
and then suddenly would be surrounded by the police, and they would take her

KEITH MORRISON reporting: (Voiceover) She is quite literally on the run,
terrified that at any moment she might be discovered and hauled back to face
the full course of the law.  She’s a professional woman, a biologist, who
exists hand-to-mouth, working menial jobs in far corners of the world.  And
yet, she insists this life is the only way she could protect her child from a
court system she claims is broken.

(Peggy Farmer and Bethany walking along beach; Peggy and Bethany)

Ms. FARMER: I figured it was best to go, because her life, her very soul was at

MORRISON: Could it be true that a mother would actually have to kidnap her
child to protect her from the legal system she felt had let them down?  You’re
about to experience the strange story of a young girl named Bethany over whom a
war was fought.  And keep in mind, as you’re hearing these allegations,
disturbing as they are, that there are very much two sides to this story.  And
then imagine what if you were the judge in this tempestuous divorce and custody
battle?  Could you find the truth?  Does any judge have the expertise to make
the right decision?

(Voiceover) We begin in the late ’80s, long after the blush of love had paled,
and Peggy Farmer was only concerned about the battle she was waging with her
former husband.

(City; photos of Peggy Farmer and Bill Bailey)

Ms. FARMER: He told me he would take me to court until he broke me physically,
mentally, emotionally and financially, and until he gained custody of the

MORRISON: (Voiceover) “He” is her ex-husband, Bill Bailey, the father of
Bethany, who is, ever all, the centerpiece of this love-story-gone-afoul.

After Bill and Peggy divorced in 1988, Peggy and six-month-old Bethany moved in
with her parents.  Bill kept the apartment.  A divorce not unlike millions of
others, at least at first.  They arranged that Bill would see Bethany on
weekends and some holidays.  And then when Bethany was only 17 months old,
Peggy said she noticed something alarming after a visit with Bill.

(Photo of Bailey and Farmer; divorce documents; photo of Bethany as a baby;
wedding photo of Farmer and Bailey; divorce document; photo of Bethany as a

Ms. FARMER: He had her for three weeks.

(Voiceover) She came back with burns on the back of her arms, burns on the
front of her arms.

(Photos of Bethany’s injuries)

Ms. FARMER: And her only vaginal infection ever.

MORRISON: What did the hospital tell you, suggest to you about that?

Ms. FARMER: (Voiceover) Her doctor checked her over, said yes, she does have a
vaginal infection.  It could be several different things.

(Text from doctor’s notes)

Ms. FARMER: One of them was possible sexual abuse.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Sexual abuse?  Peggy says she couldn’t believe Bill had
abused their daughter, and he denied it.  But he feared losing visitation
rights with Bethany.  So when Peggy asked him would he agree to supervised
visits with Bethany…

(Photos of Bailey and Bethany; text from custody document)

Ms. FARMER: He said he would agree to anything.  And he agreed to supervised

MORRISON: (Voiceover) For a while, she says, the arrangement seemed to work,
until about two years later, when Bethany was four.

(Photos of Bailey and Bethany)

Ms. FARMER: She started wetting her bed during visitations.  He started
visiting more often.  If he didn’t visit it wouldn’t happen.  If he did visit,
it would.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) By now, Bill and Peggy were at each other’s throats in
family court.  Repeatedly Bill petitioned for freer access to his daughter,
while Peggy fought to keep the supervision.  She says the bed wetting
continued, too.  Bethany’s behavior, says Peggy, seemed almost desperate, even
when Bill was with Bethany in her own house with the supervisors upstairs.

(Separate photos of Bailey and Farmer; photo of Bethany; balcony on home)

Ms. FARMER: She would be downstairs–if they were watching a movie, they were
comfortable, I’d let them be.  She would come up, curl up on my–my lap,
sucking her thumb.  And I’d say, `Well, go back downstairs.’ He would come up
and say, `You’re cutting into my visitation time.  You’re interfering, I’m
going to take you to court because you’re interfering with my visitation.’ And
we would try to encourage her to go back downstairs with him.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But to four-year-old Bethany, her mother says, nothing
that her parents or the judges in court did or said seemed to be any

(Photo of Bethany)

Ms. FARMER: Before we went to sleep, we’d say our prayer.  And she started
praying, `Mommy, let the an–let the angels take me to heaven, Lord, and–so
that I don’t have–so that I don’t have to do this anymore.’

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But do what?  By this time, Peggy contends signs of
possible sexual abuse were hard to miss.  She reported bed wetting, nightmares,
and masturbation in public, and to calm herself to sleep.  And then that day on
vacation in Florida, when Bethany was five.

(Photo of Bethany; documents; excerpts from documents; people playing in ocean)

Ms. FARMER: And Bethany takes her hand and puts it up my dress.  And I slapped
her hand.  And I took her hand and I said, `Why?  Why, why would you ever do
that?  Do I ever do anything like that to you?’ `No,’ and the whole time she’s
saying, `Just relax, Mommy.  It’s OK.  Just relax.’

MORRISON: “Just relax”?

Ms. FARMER: `Just relax, Mommy.  It’s OK.’ And I said, `Why would you do that?
Does anyone ever do that to you?’ She got deadly silent.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And then…

(Photo of Bethany)

Ms. FARMER: (Voiceover) She says, `Yes.’

(Photo of Bethany)

Ms. FARMER: I said, `Who?’ She says, `Daddy.’ And she wouldn’t say a word after

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Peggy’s sister, Becky, says she remembers a similar
incident about the same time.

(Becky cooking in kitchen)

BECKY: We’d gone to church together, and Bethany started putting her hand up my

Ms. FARMER: And I pulled her hand out, and she goes up again, and starts
saying, `It’s OK, Aunt Becky.  Just relax.  It’s OK.  Just relax.’

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Now convinced something horrible was going on, Peggy took
Bethany to a psychologist who suggested they contact the county children’s
services department.  The county launched a police investigation.

(Photo of Bethany; text from psychologist report; government office building)

Ms. FARMER: To find out what’s going on about this touching and things.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) A police detective looked into the case, but at that
point, Bethany still hadn’t volunteered anything to anyone about being sexually
abused.  And so the investigation ended.  Child abuse was ruled out. Bill,
vindicated in court, took up his case with renewed vigor against Peggy.

(Text from reports; photo of Bethany; text from reports; photo of Bailey)

Ms. FARMER: He took me back to court and said I’ve refused him visitation, he
wants me incarcerated.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Then, while Bill and Peggy battled in court, the
psychologist reported a breakthrough.  Five-year-old Bethany opened up.  And
here, said the psychologist, is what she said.  Bethany reported being “touched
by her father in the genital area, which made her mad.” She also said she was
“told to keep the touching a secret” or “her mother would go to jail.” Lastly,
she said she had, in fact, “informed a police officer and caseworker of the

But it was too late.  The police investigation was closed.  Bill spent the next
three years arguing in court appearance after court appearance that the
accusations of sex abuse had been false, a smoke screen, thrown up by his
ex-wife to keep him away from Bethany.

By now, May of 1995, the war between Bill and Peggy had been fought out in this
old courthouse 41 times over seven years.  And the judge, who’d heard all the
arguments and met Bethany, had come to believe that the parent in the right was
Bill.  Resoundingly.  Not only did the judge apologize to Bill, she called it
the worst case of total “parental alienation” she had ever seen.  In other
words, that Peggy was turning Bethany away from her father.

(Separate photos of Bailey and Farmer; photo of Bethany; report and excerpts
from report; door of interrogation room; photo of Bailey; courthouse; photo of
Bailey and Bethany; photo of Farmer and Bethany; separate photos of Bailey and
Farmer; courthouse; empty judge’s bench; photo of Bethany; photos of Bill and
Bethany; text from court document; photo of Farmer and Bethany)

MORRISON: By this time, you did want to alienate her from him, didn’t you?

Ms. FARMER: Why would I want to alienate her?

MORRISON: To protect her from whatever…

Ms. FARMER: I wanted to protect her from him, but not alienate her from him.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) The judge ordered that Bethany, now eight, be removed
from Peggy and placed in foster care.  And the findings from Bethany’s
psychologist, all heard it court?  The judge found them unpersuasive.

(Photos of Bethany and others)

MORRISON: What did that say to you at the time?

Ms. FARMER: It told me that we were in trouble.

MORRISON: Trouble?  Before long it would be much worse.  No telling when a what
a mother might do, or what an eight-year-old girl is capable of saying.

(Photo of Bethany; video excerpts of Bethany, Farmer and Carolyn Jenkins)

BETHANY: (From videotape) He touched me once down there.

Dr. CAROLYN JENKINS: (From videotape) Down where?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Here.

Announcer: A new expert elicits startling allegations from Bethany.

Dr. JENKINS: No one that interviewed her took the time to build any kind of

MORRISON: You did though?

Dr. JENKINS: Yep, she trusts me.

Announcer: The explosive videotape when On The Run continues.


Announcer: On The Run continues on DATELINE with Stone Phillips.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) In May of 1995, after seven years of vicious battles in
and out of the Cincinnati courthouse, eight-year-old Bethany Farmer became
suicidal.  Threatened with the possibility that she’d be taken from her mother
and placed in foster care, she was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the
Children’s Hospital, which kept her medicated and on suicide watch.  Peggy,
still desperate to be believed, called the department of social work at nearby
Xavier University.

(Courthouse; photos of Bethany and Farmer; hospital; photo of Farmer; Xavier

Dr. JENKINS: Peggy called the university and asked if there was anyone there
that knew anything about child abuse.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) As it happened, there was.  Dr. Carolyn Jenkins is a
recognized expert who’s worked in the field of child sexual abuse for nearly
three decades.  And what struck her right away, she says, is that, in her
opinion, neither of the family court judges who met Bethany had the expertise
to assess the child’s allegations against her father.

(Jenkins in library; empty judge’s bench; photo of Bethany)

Dr. JENKINS: No one that interviewed her took the time to build any kind of

MORRISON: You did though.

Dr. JENKINS: Yep.  She trusts me.

Dr. JENKINS: (Voiceover) Hey, want to sit over here with me?

MORRISON: (Voiceover) When Bethany was released from the hospital and went back
home to her mother, Peggy took her to Dr. Jenkins, who conducted private
interviews to try to get at the truth of the allegations.  She wanted first to
know what Bethany’s relationship with her parents was like.

(Video excerpts of Jenkins and Bethany)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) What is your mom’s name?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Peggy.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) And what do you call her?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Mom.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) OK, what’s your dad’s name?

(Excerpts from upcoming segment) We shall say D-A-D. I don’t prefer him as a

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) What is your D–what is your D-A-D’s name?

BETHANY: (From videotape) I prefer him as a D-A-D.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) You don’t prefer him as a D-A-D?

BETHANY: (From videotape) That’s correct.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) OK.  If I want to talk about him, what would I
call him?

BETHANY: (From videotape) You may spell it out, B-I-L-L.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) I have to spell it every time?

BETHANY: (From videotape) You need to spell it.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) All right.

BETHANY: (From videotape) I don’t like him.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And to ascertain whether or not Bethany was being coached
by her mother, she asked this.

(Photo of Bethany and Farmer)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Does your mom ever say that you shouldn’t visit
with Bill?

BETHANY: (From videotape) No, she doesn’t.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) OK.

BETHANY: (From videotape) She doesn’t even say I should, she just…

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Doesn’t say anything?

BETHANY: (From videotape) …wants me to make my choice.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Oh, OK.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Bethany soon began to feel comfortable enough to express
her feelings about her father, Bill Bailey.  And they were strong ones.

(Photos of Bethany and Bailey)

BETHANY: (From videotape) I am through or sick of him.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) I need to know why.

BETHANY: (From videotape) Because he bugs me.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) No.  Lots of people bug us in our lives, but that
doesn’t mean we…

BETHANY: (From videotape) He upsets me.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Lots of people upset us.

BETHANY: (From videotape) He drives me nuts.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) He drives you nuts.  Lots of people drive us nuts
that way.

BETHANY: (From videotape) Yeah?  So?  He drives me nuts even in a worse way.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) (Unintelligible)

BETHANY: (From videotape) Sometimes when I say `Go away,’ he won’t go away.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But there was still no disclosure of sexual abuse.  So
Dr. Jenkins took the lead.

(Photo of Bethany and Bailey; video excerpt of Jenkins and Bethany)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) …but at one I was told that something had
happened a couple of times, I don’t know how many times, with Bill, that had to
do with either good touches or bad touches.

BETHANY: (From videotape) You mean B-I-L-L.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Yes.  I’m sorry.  That something had happened
with B-I-L-L that had to do with good touches or bad touches.  Is that true?

BETHANY: (From videotape) He touched me once down there.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) Down where?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Here.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) He only touched you one time there?

BETHANY: (From videotape) I don’t remember how many times, but I think it was
more than once.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) More than once, you think?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Mm-hmm.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) What–what happened when he touched you?

BETHANY: (From videotape) I wanted to him to quit.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) OK.

BETHANY: (From videotape) (Nods)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) And did you say, “Quit”?  Or what did–did you
say anything, or did you…

BETHANY: (From videotape) I think I said, `Stop it.’

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) `Stop it’?  All right.  What did he say?

BETHANY: (From videotape) `Relax.’

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) `Relax’?

MORRISON: Did it become evidence in your mind that the abuse was–had certainly

Dr. JENKINS: Yes, it did.  It did.

MORRISON: You’re absolutely sure of that?

Dr. JENKINS: Yes, I am.

MORRISON: What, besides that, gives you that absolute certainty?

Dr. JENKINS: Well, I found out from the supervisors that they always had to
take another pair of underwear when she went on visits, because she would
always wet her pants while she was visiting.

MORRISON: Sometimes little girls do.

Dr. JENKINS: But she only did it when she was visiting with her dad.  No other
time.  She was having night terrors.  She at some point–and this I got from
the records, not her–from her directly–that when she was taking a bath she
said she wanted to grow a peanut.  And they said why?  And she said,`So Bill
won’t bother me anymore.’

BETHANY: (From videotape) I tell the truth.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) I know you do.  I know you do.

BETHANY: (From videotape) I don’t lie at all.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) I know you don’t.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Dr. Jenkins was certain that the videotaped interview
with Bethany, along with further testimony from the psychologist who had first
reported sexual abuse, would surely influence the judges in Peggy’s favor.

(Video excerpts of Bethany and Jenkins)

Dr. JENKINS: I was the one that kept saying, `Let’s move this to juvenile court
where they understand these things.’

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But once the case got to juvenile court, that judge never
even saw the explosive videotape.  It wasn’t her legal right to consider it.
Instead, the judge ruled that the years-long court battle had been emotionally
destructive to Bethany, and that neither parent was fit to care for her.  The
judge ordered Bethany into temporary foster care, and sent her back into
therapy with a new psychologist.  He, in turn, was directed to get Bethany
comfortable enough with her father to have unsupervised visits.  And that was
the breaking point.  Dr.  Jenkins, a trained professional, hired by Bethany’s
mother, did something she had never done in her 30 years of social work.

(Courthouse; Cathy Boeller Koch; photo of Bethany; separate photos of Farmer
and Bethany and Bailey; Koch; photo of Bethany; photo of Bailey and Bethany;

Dr. JENKINS: I said, `Peggy, I’m sorry.  The handwriting is on the wall.  All I
can do is tell you what I would do if it were me, and I would leave.’

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And then she turned to eight-year-old Bethany.

(Photo of Bethany)

Dr. JENKINS: I said to Bethany, `If you leave you’ve got to understand, you’ll
never see your grandparents again or any of your friends.’ And she said, `I
want to leave.  I want to go.’

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And so that is what a now-desperate mother and her
eight-year-old daughter did.  They ran from a system about to force a solution
they say they couldn’t live with.  They simply disappeared.

(View of road a car is driving on; Bethany and Farmer walking; train leaving)

Announcer: A life underground.

MORRISON: What’s it like to know that the next phone call, the next knock at
the door might be somebody’s found you?

Announcer: When On The Run continues.


Announcer: A mother and child in hiding, a father in pain.

Mr. BAILEY: You don’t know how to defend yourself.

Announcer: On The Run will continue.


Announcer: We now return to On The Run.  Here again is Stone Phillips.

PHILLIPS: Peggy Farmer is locked in a bitter custody battle with her
ex-husband, Bill, a tug-of-war over their daughter, Bethany.  Year after year,
Peggy has claimed in court that Bethany was sexually abused by her father. But
judge after judge has rejected those claims.  Now Peggy Farmer is about to do
something drastic: take her daughter, and take off to live their lives on the
run.  Here again, Keith Morrison.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) On November 7th, 1995, Peggy Farmer took the law into her
own hands.  Spontaneous?  Not quite.  It had been weeks in planning.

(View through windshield of driving car; photo of Farmer and Bethany)

BETHANY: It wasn’t an easy day.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And now, nine years later an almost-18-year-old Bethany

(Bethany and Farmer)

BETHANY: (Voiceover) I knew I was leaving my grandparents and my family behind.

(Photo of Bethany and grandparent)

BETHANY: And because of that, I was crying.  But at the same time, it was–I
also wanted to run around and shout for joy, because I was also being set free.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Mother and daughter agreed to meet us in a hotel suite
outside the United States.  We have no idea where they live or where they went
on escape day.  Early that morning after tearful goodbyes with Peggy’s parents,
Peggy and Bethany were driven to a McDonald’s where they were met by someone
else who drove them to another city, and from there, they took an international
flight.  Every move that day was orchestrated by an underground network, which
assists women on the run.  But, once they arrived, explicably, these was no one
there to meet them.

(Farmer and Bethany talking to reporter; treetops as car passes; McDonald’s
sign; city traffic; plane flying; plane landing; people at luggage carol)

BETHANY: I didn’t know where I was going.  My mother didn’t snow where she was
going.  We were kind of lost.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Early on, it became apparent, they say, that it was never
going to be easy.  Peggy had given up her job as a research biologist. She’d
clean out her savings account of 5,000.  But she had no idea how long her money
would last them.

(Video of Bethany; Bethany and Farmer riding on train)

Ms. FARMER: Going into a situation where I don’t know whether I can pay for the
next rent or the next meal, it’s very difficult.

MORRISON: You had to be true fugitives.

Ms. FARMER: Yes.

BETHANY: Mm-hmm.

MORRISON: How did you live?

BETHANY: Off potato soup.

Ms. FARMER: Potato soup.  Bread and milk, right?

BETHANY: Yup.  And a little dry cereal.  We had no can opener.  We had no
utensils to eat with.

(Voiceover) When you’re hungry, and you’re watching all the food as you walk
through the stores…

(Interior of grocery store)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And you can’t afford to buy it.

(Interior of grocery store)

BETHANY: (Voiceover) Exactly.  You just kind of walk by the food and try to
ignore your stomach as it rumbles.

(Interior of grocery store)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) They had been on the run for nine years.  And for all the
difficulty, Peggy has taken great pains to keep their whereabouts a secret, out
of fear that she might be caught and taken back to Cincinnati to be prosecuted,
perhaps jailed.

(Farmer and Bethany; arrest warrant; prison)

Ms. FARMER: Any contact with the states is through five different people before
it gets to the states.

MORRISON: How do you go about your daily life?

Ms. FARMER: You have to move around.  Jobs are hard.  I can’t use Social
Security numbers, anything like that.

MORRISON: You have to get paid under the table.

Ms. FARMER: Paid under the table.

BETHANY: Mm-hmm.

MORRISON: How do you rent–even rent an apartment or something?

Ms. FARMER: Under someone else’s name.

MORRISON: Do you get a driver’s license?

Ms. FARMER: Definitely not.


MORRISON: Can you use a credit card?


MORRISON: How–how can anybody get along without a credit card?

Ms. FARMER: You learn to not get along with a lot of amenities.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Peggy home schools Bethany, wherever home happens to be.

(Bethany and Farmer)

MORRISON: What do you do if somebody asks you one of those awkward questions,
like `Where are you from?’

Ms. FARMER: You just kind of listen to them and–and give them what they want.

BETHANY: You act calm, and…

Ms. FARMER: I’m here for a change of life, that’s definitely true.  And you
have assumed names.

MORRISON: How often will you change an identity?

Ms. FARMER: Depending upon what city you go to.

MORRISON: What’s it like to know that the next phone call, the next knock at
the door might be somebody’s found you?

Ms. FARMER: (Voiceover) I used to have nightmares that I was walking down the
street, and then suddenly would be surrounded by the police.

(Negative image of feet walking)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And all the while, says Bethany, were those memories. She
would put up with anything, she says, just to be away from her father.

(Photos of Bethany and Bailey)

MORRISON: You were five years old when you told a psychologist about some
incidences in which he had touched you inappropriately?

BETHANY: Mm-hmm.  Yes.

MORRISON: Do you remember those times?

BETHANY: Not clearly, but I do remember them.  And they were frightening.

MORRISON: Did you think maybe others must have known?

BETHANY: I knew that they didn’t know.  But I guess in some ways I kind of
expected it, you know, to be written across my forehead in some ways.  I don’t
know.  I was afraid to tell anyone because of his threat that my mom would go
to jail, and I’d be living with him and all this stuff.  So, for a long time I
didn’t talk.  And…

MORRISON: (Voiceover) By now you’ve probably noticed, there is something
unusual about this young woman’s demeanor.

(Farmer and Bethany talking to reporter)

MORRISON: I’m going to ask you this question, because people watching will be

BETHANY: Mm-hmm.

MORRISON: You’re not looking at me; you’re looking down here somewhere.

BETHANY: Yeah, I feel more comfortable that way.  It’s just, I do that with
everybody, pretty much.

MORRISON: It’s always been that way?

BETHANY: Pretty much.  I have this fear of looking people in the eye.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) One of the symptoms, it turns out of Asperger’s syndrome,
a mild form of autism.  Bethany was diagnosed when she was 11.  By then, of
course, they were on the road, and living in fear about reports that B-I-L-L
was trying to track them down, bring them back to face a court system which had
believed him, not them.  So why agree to see us now?  Why take the risk?

(Bethany and Farmer talking to reporter; video of Bethany; Bethany and Farmer
walking on beach; Farmer and Bethany talking to reporter)

BETHANY: He can’t hurt me anymore.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Because Bethany turned 18 last month.  And is as a legal
adult, she wants to purge the memories.  She wants to go home.

(Bethany and Farmer walking on beach)

MORRISON: Your father will say, `That never happened.  It’s all made up.’

BETHANY: Of course.  That’s what he’d say.

MORRISON: Or an invented memory.

BETHANY: He’s a liar.  And if he sees this, I hope that he hears that.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Right at this moment, Bill Bailey is sitting in front of
his television set, seeing his former wife and his daughter, hearing their
allegations for the first time in almost a decade.  There’s no telling exactly
what he is thinking just now.  But does he have a story?  You bet.

(Bailey; Bailey talking to reporter)

Announcer: A father in torment.

Mr. BAILEY: She says, `Mr. Bailey, your child is the kind of child that would
come up to you in the middle of the night and stab you in the back.’ That’s how
my child had been alienated against me.

Announcer: When On The Run continues.


Announcer: We now continue with On The Run.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Bill Bailey is still in Cincinnati, a computer
consultant, married again, his second wife by his side through so many battles.
He is 46 now, and has spent the past nine of those 46 years and tens of
thousands of dollars in an unending campaign to find Bethany, the daughter who
vanished without a trace back in 1995.

(Bailey and wife; Bailey working; photos of Bethany; missing person poster;
photo of Bethany)

MORRISON: Do you have any idea where they went?


MORRISON: Or what they’ve done all these years?


MORRISON: (Voiceover) The pain of not knowing, tangled with the allegations of
pedophilia, he says still tear at him.


MORRISON: How does it feel to be accused of sex–sexual abuse?

Mr. BAILEY: It feels like your world just ended.  It’s incredibly terrifying
and frustrating all at the same time because, you don’t know how to defend
yourself against it.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But there it was.  Based on Peggy’s account, Bethany was
showing symptoms of sexual abuse.

(Photo of Bethany and Farmer)

MORRISON: Why would it be that Bethany would wind up going home and wetting her
pants and touching herself inappropriately and having nightmares after visits
with you?

Mr. BAILEY: I think, particularly as time progressed, and Bethany became aware
that she was in the middle, visits could be tremendously stressful.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Bill pointed out that because the allegations made by his
ex-wife in court didn’t hold up under scrutiny time and time again, that judges
kept siding with him.  Remember the vaginal infection when Bethany was 17
months old?  Inconclusive, her pediatrician found.  Not necessarily evidence of
sex abuse.  And those supposed burn marks discovered at the same time?  Another
pediatric report indicated they didn’t look like burns at all. The marks were
possibly insect bites.

Those are the kinds of findings Bill took to court in his quest to be cleared
of any suspicion.  And he was dogged, persistent.  During nearly 60 court dates
over almost eight years, he issued a virtual blizzard of paperwork, piling up
expert after expert as he did battle with Peggy and she with him.

(Photo of Farmer; courthouse; Bailey; text from doctor’s report; photo of
Bethany; photo of injuries; text from doctor’s report; courthouse; Bailey;
documents laid out across table; photo of Farmer and Bailey)

Mr. BAILEY: I didn’t care.  The only thing I cared about was having a
relationship with my daughter.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And specifically, unsupervised visits with even the
shadow of allegation of sexual abuse removed.

(Photo of Bethany and Bailey; video excerpts of Jenkins and Bethany)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) …but at one I was told that something had

MORRISON: (Voiceover) We showed Bill the videotape made nine years ago by
Bethany’s social worker, Carolyn Jenkins.

(Bailey watching videotape)

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) …that had to do with either good touches or bad

MORRISON: (Voiceover) He thought she was prompting Bethany’s answers.

(Bailey watching videotape)

Mr. BAILEY: She’s looking for a particular result.  `Hey, we’re–we’re going to
talk about good touches and bad touches.’

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) He only touched you one time there?

Mr. BAILEY: These are leading questions?  `It only happened one time?’ you
know?  `I’m not getting the right answer yet.  So give me the right answer.’

BETHANY: (From videotape) I don’t remember how many times, but I think it was
more than once.

Dr. JENKINS: (From videotape) More than once, you think?

BETHANY: (From videotape) Mm-hmm.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But what about Bethany’s psychologist, the one who
testified in court?  He believed that Bethany’s allegations of sexual abuse by
her father were true.

(Text from psychologist report)

Mr. BAILEY: Well, this individual was one of many evaluators.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) As he fought, Bill found support from other professionals
who met with Bethany, Peggy, and Bill, and believed him.  Here’s a report
issued by one psychologist in 1992 when Bethany was five.

(Bailey talking to reporter; psychologist’s report; photo of Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) There was no way that she could determine that there
was a finding of sexual abuse.

(Pages from report; excerpt from pages)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And another report from a different psychologist when she
was six.

(Photo of Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) I should have unrestricted access to my daughter during

(Psychologist report with text highlighted)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And yet another psychologist when Bethany was seven found
no clear-cut indication of pedophilia.  And when Bethany was eight, just before
she and her mother fled, this psychiatrist says he met seven times with Peggy,
Bethany and Bill.

(Bailey talking to reporter; pages from report; excerpts from report; photo of
Bethany and others; Sam Robertson)

Dr. SAM ROBERTSON: I did not see indications that father had abused his
daughter, Bethany.  I

(Voiceover) would say he didn’t match the characteristics that are typically
there in people who do abuse their children.

(Photos of Bailey and Bethany)

MORRISON: Bill says what happened in his case is not a result of any problem he
has, but rather, it’s something that Peggy has done.  As the court decided, the
allegations of sexual abuse were a fantasy made up by Peggy to keep Bill away
from his own daughter.  Peggy, according to Bill, was deliberately trying to
turn Bethany against him.  The tactic has a name; you heard it earlier in this
program: parental alienation syndrome.

(Voiceover) This is Dr. Roger Fisher, who, in 1995, at Bill’s suggestion, the
court chose as the family therapist.

(Roger Fisher; medical school certificate)

Mr. BAILEY: Dr. Fisher indicates there’s been no sexual abuse in the case.

Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) He says, “The mother appears to me to have her own very
serious psychological problems.  As a result, I believe she has encapsulated
herself in Bethany in a very exclusive psychologically insulated,
borderline-paranoid world in which the mother is rapidly becoming the only one
to whom Bethany can relate with any degree of intimacy.”

(Pages from report; Bailey reading report; pages form report; photo of Bethany
and Farmer)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) In other words, PAS–parental alienation syndrome.  And,
he says, Dr. Fisher was not the only expert to charge Peggy with parental

(Photo of Farmer and Bethany)

Dr. ROBERTSON: I think it does occur.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) The psychiatrist who issued the last report in Bill’s
favor agreed with the PAS theory.


Dr. ROBERTSON: The court did indicate that there was some alienation going on.
I agreed with the findings that the court had found.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Month by month, from the time this case first went to
court, Bill believed he was proving his case against Peggy: that she lied about
Bethany being abused, that she alienated Bethany against him, and finally that
she was just a little off.  And so now in court, Bill argued that allegations
of sexual abuse were not based on reality, but grew entirely from Peggy’s own
sexual hang-ups, that she was just imagining it all.

(Bailey; photo of Farmer; photo of Bethany; photo of Bailey and Bethany; photo
of Farmer; courthouse; photo of Farmer)

Mr. BAILEY: Because of Peggy’s own perceptions of sexuality, anything that
would happen that might have been very normal would tend to be blown out of

MORRISON: (Voiceover) It was sex, he says, that was the biggest trouble as the
young couple tried to make a go of it.

(Wedding photos of Bailey and Farmer)

Mr. BAILEY: There were issues, issues of a sexual nature.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Peggy, says Bill, had always seemed terrified about sex.
In fact, he claims, they both remained virgins until six months into their

(Photos of Bailey and Farmer)

Mr. BAILEY: Any advance on my part, she just started screaming.  I mean, it
seemed like there was a problem.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But not the only problem.  Bill also claims Peggy told
him on three separate occasions that she had been sexually molested.

(Photos of Farmer)

Mr. BAILEY: She told me not to tell anybody else about it.  She didn’t want her
parents to know.

MORRISON: But surely by now, Bill, you would have thought, `Come on.  Either
she’s lying, and I need to find out if she’s lying, or I got to go knock that
guy’s head off.’

Mr. BAILEY: I think I was more of the latter.  I mean, I–I was…

MORRISON: Well, why didn’t you?  It’s your wife?

Mr. BAILEY: Because, Peggy begged me not to.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Peggy told DATELINE she never claimed to Bill that she’d
been molested.  But she was the victim, she said, of an attempted rape as a
teen-ager.  Years later when Peggy got pregnant, Bill says, he was dumfounded.
Why?  Bill claims that before they were married, Peggy told him she could not
bear children, that she didn’t have a womb.

(Photos of Farmer and Bailey)

Mr. BAILEY: Now she’s telling me she’s pregnant.  You know, I’m going to be a
little reserved in getting excited about this, because I wasn’t sure I should
believe that she really was pregnant.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And then, Bill says, he started to think about the timing
of it all, and came to wonder if Bethany was actually his daughter.

(Photos of Bailey, Farmer and Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: There was only one time in the year that Bethany was born that we
had intercourse.  One time.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Thing is, says Bill, that one sexual encounter was not
nine months, but a full 10 months before Bethany was born.

(Photo of Farmer and Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: I mean, I don’t know.  I don’t know for sure if Bethany is mine or
not.  I could have gone out and got a blood test and this, that and the other.
But I didn’t.

(Voiceover) And the reason didn’t was I already loved Bethany by that point in

(Photo of Bailey and Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: I had a strong desire to be a good father to Bethany.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) As he conducted the war with Peggy, Bill argued that she
had been lying to him about everything.  And the judges thought Peggy had
issues, too.  The domestic court judge and the family court judge both came
down in Bill’s favor.  Remember, one of the judge’s called this one a case of
total parental alienation.  The judge actually apologized to Bill.  Said,
`Write Bethany off, she was too far gone.’

(Bailey talking to reporter; photo of Farmer; Farmer; courthouse; Bailey; book
cover; video of Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: She comes out and she says, `Mr. Bailey, I am so sorry.  Mr.
Bailey, your child is the kind of child that would come up to you in the middle
of the night and stab you in the back with a knife.’ That’s how my child had
been alienated against me.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And because of that syndrome, says Bill–parental
alienation, PAS–he was not at all shocked when on November 15th, 1995, he
learned Peggy had object absconded with Bethany.

(Photo of Farmer; driving car)

Mr. BAILEY: I thought it was a possibility all along.  It was always a concern
of mine that they would leave.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) In fact, he fully expected it to happen.

(Farmer and Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: Peggy, from an early age, her niche, if you will in the family
structure, was as a martyr.  Their family had coined the term, “Peggy’s
martyrdom syndrome.”

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And that’s Bill’s take on Peggy’s motive in choosing to
kidnap Bethany.

(Bailey; Farmer and Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) Running away with Bethany under the auspices of
protecting her child is perhaps the Super Bowl of martyrdom.  She will garner a
lot of sympathy and attention through this.

(Farmer and Bethany walking on beach; Bailey; Farmer and Bethany)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And so as he searched for her, Bill went back to court
and won official custody of Bethany.  If he could find her, she’d have to live
with him.  And he could seek to have Peggy face criminal charges for absconding
with Bethany.

So who’s telling the truth?  This little girl…

(Missing persons poster; photo of Bailey and Bethany; Bethany and Farmer riding
in vehicle; video of Bethany)

BETHANY: (From videotape) Bill touched me.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) …or the man who fought with Bethany’s mother for

(Photo of Bailey, Farmer and Bethany; photo of Farmer)

Mr. BAILEY: Peggy was going to extinguish and destroy the relationship between
myself and Bethany.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) The photos you’ve seen throughout this story prove, Bill
says, that he and Bethany did share some happy moments together.

(Photos of Bethany and Bailey)

Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) There was magic.

(Photos of Bethany and Bailey)

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And that was When Bill told us he wanted to reveal some
things to us and to Bethany.  He asked if he could read a statement.

(Bailey talking to reporter; Bethany walking on beach)

Mr. BAILEY: “Bethany, I want to let you know I’ve made some decisions.”

MATT LAUER reporting: Next week on “Today”…

(Voiceover) …live in our studio, Nicole Kidman.  And Simon Cowell with his
newest idols.

(Matt Lauer on “Today” show set; excerpts from Nicole Kidman movie; Simon
Cowell; excerpts from “American Idol”)

Mr. SIMON COWELL: I don’t know about that.

LAUER: (Voiceover) Then some call them crazy, others fearless.  What do you
think?  Seniors going to extremes.  All that plus our special series “Raising
Kids Today.”

(Person jumping wave-runner; person skydiving with snowboard; person flipping
through air on wake board; woman dancing; graphic of segment title)

LAUER: Only on NBC.

Announcer: Coming up on DATELINE Wednesday…

Unidentified Man #1: I was wondering, do we have a killing spree?

Announcer: …a bizarre double murder in gambling’s glittering capital.  Two
young men, bound, gagged, dumped.

Man #1: Rope tied their legs to their head.

Announcer: Who were they?  How did they die?

Unidentified Man #2: Cause of death is unknown.

Announcer: Two detectives search for the killers before it’s too late.

Man #2: We need to stop these guys before they kill anymore.

Announcer: Go inside the investigation as it happens.  Vegas Homicide: Race
Against the Clock.

And next, will they one day come home?

MORRISON: Do you feel like you can ever live a normal life?

BETHANY: I don’t know.

MORRISON: Do you want to try?

Announcer: When On The Run continues.


Announcer: We return to On The Run on DATELINE with Stone Phillips.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Bill Bailey, preparing here to read a statement into the
camera, has one big thing in common with his ex-wife and daughter still hiding
somewhere far away: All of them are terribly damaged.  Poke a spot and out will
come a litany of wounded arguments.  And yet for years, all had clung to the
belief that somehow the court system would make it right.  But did it? In this
case, not even the judge who made the final ruling thinks so: Cathy Boeller

(Bailey talking to reporter; Farmer and Bethany; Bailey; Farmer and Bethany;
empty judge’s bench; Koch)

Judge CATHY BOELLER KOCH: No matter what happened in this case, it was tragic,
you know, and it had tragic results for the child.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) As it does, says this psychiatrist, in case after case
after case–to innocent kids.

(Roy Lubit; photo of Bethany)

Dr. ROY LUBIT: Their image of the world being a place they can trust, their
ability to form close relationships has all been comprised.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Dr. Roy Lubit is a psychiatrist specializing in
allegations of abuse in child custody cases.  He had no active role in this
case, but in his many published reports, Dr. Lubit charges that the American
legal system routinely fails children.  How?  Though legal guardians and
psychiatrists are often appointed to represent children in custody cases, D.
Lubit says most of the legal work is a parent-vs.-parent battle that rages
around the children.  Also, Lubit is critical of psychiatric “hired guns” who
are brought in for opinions not so much for the children as to help one side or
the other win.

(Lubit; Lubit walking with reporter; empty judge’s bench; split screen showing
Farmer and Bailey; video excerpt of Bethany; text from document)

Dr. LUBIT: They can pick the people who are going to tend to agree with their
own beliefs, and there are experts out the who have some strange ideas.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And Dr. Lubit also finds fault in the fact that judges
are rarely trained in child psychology, and yet, along with other legal
professionals, are often unwilling to belief what children tell them.

(Lubit working; judge’s robes; video excerpts of Jenkins talking to Bethany)

Dr. LUBIT: Some judges, law guardians, and even some forensic evaluators have
rigid, fixed opinions that abuse that is alleged within the context of a
custody dispute is almost certain to be false.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Does some of that sound familiar?  Remember Dr.  Roger
Fisher, the family therapist who Bill hired and who the court approved to
council Bethany, Peggy and Bill?  He served as an advisor to judges in other
cases, too.  Dozens of them.  And what did he allege in many of those cases?
Parental alienation syndrome.  In a deal two years ago with the Ohio State
Board of Psychology, Dr. Fisher gave up his license to practice, instead of
facing a hearing regarding multiple complaints of violating professional
standards of care.

(Fisher; empty witness stand; court stenographer machine; county seal; Fisher)

MORRISON: But parental alienation syndrome is real, is it not?

Dr. LUBIT: I certainly believe that I’ve seen some children who were making
false allegations about one of their parents because the other parent had urged
them to, or they felt they had to protect the other parent, because the other
parent was frail, and so they made things up.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But is that what happened with Bethany?  Dr. Lubit says
he’s too far removed from her case to know, but he’s seen enough tragic cases
to know the system does need fixing.

(Photo of Bethany; Lubit walking with reporter)

Dr. LUBIT: I’d like to see a significantly restructured system so that instead
of two warring parties, the child and their interests are more front and

MORRISON: What do you do about that?

Dr. LUBIT: Well, one possibility is to have a jury, let’s say, of three child
professionals, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, who decide what
the visitation and custody should be when there is a custody battle.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Psychiatrist Sam Robertson, who evaluated Bethany, Peggy
and Bill, and who came down in Bill’s favor, agrees the system could be


Dr. ROBERTSON: I think it would be a fine idea to have a specialty group work
with problems of this sort.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) But anything that might be done for the system would be
too late for Bethany.


MORRISON: Still hurts, doesn’t it?

BETHANY: Yes.  And it will stay with me probably for my entire life.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And despite her feelings about B-I-L-L, Bethany thinks
the painful years-long legal process was the worst thing that happened to her.

BETHANY: (Voiceover) I wouldn’t trust the court.


BETHANY: I wouldn’t let my child even go through one year of that.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And so here, Bethany and her mother remain in their
secret location, longing to be legitimate, but afraid.

(Bethany and Farmer)

MORRISON: What would happen to you now if you walked back into a public place
in the United States and presented yourselves?

Ms. FARMER: I’m sure I would go to jail.

MORRISON: Do you feel like you can ever live a normal life?

BETHANY: I don’t know.

MORRISON: Do you want to try?

BETHANY: After all I’ve been through, it’s kind of hard.  But, I mean, I’m
free, and that’s what counts.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) And Bill Bailey, who did win the court case, says he’s
finally ready to admit that there is no legal way to win his daughter’s heart.

(Bailey; Bethany)

Mr. BAILEY: I’ve been able to make some–some decisions.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) Which gets us back to that statement he wants to read.


Mr. BAILEY: This is the decision I made.

MORRISON: (Voiceover) He’s talking here to Bethany.


Mr. BAILEY: (Voiceover) (Reading) “I will no longer attempt to locate you or
your mother.  Additionally, I have absolutely no desire to see your mother go
to jail or be incarcerated in any way.  In the future, if you choose to contact
me, we’ll discuss ways to build a new relationship.  I’ll always
unconditionally love you and have some treasured memories of your childhood.
I’m hoping this message finds you, and finds you well.  Love B-I-L-L.”

(Bethany, Bailey, Farmer and text from statement; Bethany; text from statement)

PHILLIPS: Bethany says she does plan to return to the United States to start
college some time next year.  She has no plans to contact her father.  Her
mother, Peggy Farmer, says she will remain out of the country on the run.

STONE PHILLIPS: That’s all for this edition of DATELINE Friday.  We’re off on
Sunday, but we’ll see you again for a special DATELINE Wednesday at 8, 7
Central.  I’m Stone Phillips, and for all of us at NBC News, good night.

To add a comment, use your name or a pen name. All email addresses are kept private.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s