Canadian woman arrested in LA convicted of abducting son in 1989
The Sacramento Bee, The Associated Press, various newspapers and radio stations in U.S.A. and Canada Wednesday, January 5, 2005
RED DEER, Alta. (AP) - An Alberta woman whose teenage son discovered he was a missing child when he typed his name into a computer search engine in Los Angeles was found guilty Wednesday of child abduction.
Gisele Marie Goudreault, 46, took her son, Orey, from Red Deer in May 1989 just as his father, Rod Steinmann, 42, was to be granted sole custody of the boy. The couple never married.
Authorities said Goudreault fled to Mexico and later the United States. She was arrested last February in Los Angeles, where she was living in an apartment with her son, Orey, who was then 17. Goudreault clenched her hands tightly together and stared at the floor as Assistant Chief Judge David Plosz delivered the verdict in provincial court.
"I find you did take the child in contravention of the court order and that you clearly showed intent to deprive the father of the child," Plosz said. He scheduled sentencing for Feb. 9.
Goudreault faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
The case made international headlines earlier this year when Goudreault was arrested in her San Fernando Valley home in front of her son.
Her son, who was using the name Orey Torres when he discovered he was missing, had done a Google search on himself on a lark to see what his name might turn up, Rhonda Morgan, executive director of the Missing Children Society of Canada, told The Associated Press last year. When he found a picture of himself as a toddler on a missing children's Web site he told a teacher who contacted authorities.
During sentencing arguments, Goudreault's lawyer, Markham Silver, said the teenager clearly knew about his roots before he did the search, adding his mother told him about his father when he was 9.
"In order to Google himself he had to know his name," the lawyer said.
The teenager's father was not in court for the verdict. He has spoken by phone with his son, who is now 18, but they haven't seen each other since 1989.
"Nothing is going to bring back the last 15 years," the boy's grandmother Linda Steinmann, told reporters outside court.
During sentencing arguments, Crown lawyer Bert Skinner indicated prosecutors weren't seeking a harsh sentence because that could make it difficult for Goudreault to return to California and see her son.
"We have concerns for the son," Skinner said. "It could deprive the son of both parents."
Goudreault, who worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as an administrative assistant before she was arrested, has applied to become a U.S. citizen. Her son, who now attends college in Los Angeles, has also pplied for .S. citizenhip.
Siler told thejudge Goudrault raisedher son well, adding he won awards for scholastic achievement and student leaership, excelled in sports, and has been active in his church and the community.
"What we are really trying to do is protect Orey," he said. "Maybe the best way to do that is to give him his mother back."