Relief, annoyance greet dad's TV interview

By Jeffrey Klineman, Eagle-Tribune Writer

Friday, December 1, 2000

Brian Meuse's appearance on the television news Wednesday night brought simultaneous relief and aggravation to Susan Pane, the mother who is depending on his capture to get her daughter back.

At least two different law enforcement agencies are looking for Mr. Meuse, 38, formerly of Haverhill, who has been on the run with his 15-month-old daughter, Marissa Meuse, since he violated a visitation agreement and took her from Florida on Oct. 1. He has been ordered to turn Marissa over to Ms. Pane, who is his former girlfriend, by Essex Probate Judge Mary M. Manzi.

brian_meuse.jpg (1997 bytes)

Listening from New York, Ms. Pane heard the interview as a friend in Massachusetts held a phone up to the television. Mr. Meuse told a television reporter he would stay on the run indefinitely, that he had the resources to sustain his fugitive existence, and that his flight with Marissa was motivated by his concern for her health and by his belief that he could never get a fair shake in front of Judge Manzi.

"When I heard his voice I was completely blown away," Ms. Pane said. "I get some relief from knowing that she's alive, that she appeared well. It completely blows me away that there could be three warrants out for someone and they could try to use television to state his case."

The couple's battle for custody of Marissa has become a battleground for the "fathers rights" movement. Men have picketed Lawrence District Court on Mr. Meuse's behalf, arguing the courts are biased against men in custody fights.

Ms. Pane's lawyer, Rosalyn Stults, and the Haverhill police are wondering how a reporter was able to locate Mr. Meuse.

"We'd like to know who knew he was being interviewed," Mrs. Stults said. "Other people are saying they've had no contact with him."

As a smiling Marissa Meuse played with her father and various toys during the segment, Mr. Meuse said in the interview that he took Marissa because he was afraid for her health. Mr. Meuse's attorney, Barbara Johnson, has said that Marissa was developmentally disabled due to neglect. That neglect includes having Marissa miss appointments for physical and occupational therapy.

"I think basically what they're doing is they're absolutely contradicting their own story," Ms. Pane said. "They say she's got the mind and body of a 5 month old, she can't do this, she can't do that. But then she's doing everything completely on her own."

The baby has improved under her father's care, according to Ms. Johnson.

"That is a baby who must have had absolutely wonderful therapy and loving care during the last two months," she wrote in an electronic mail message. "She was not like that when I first saw her. When I first saw her, she barely moved. When I last saw her on October 5th, she could not even hold a Honey Graham cracker."

Ms. Johnson said she is not worried that Mr. Meuse will be captured now that he has been seen on television.

Janet M. Meuse, Brian's mother, said she thought her son looked good, although she wished he had worn a suit.

"If the lawyer and the judges would get the hell out of his face, he would take the child to get a good doctor's appointment," she said. "They're interfering with the health and well being of the child."

"I just know we're working through the attorney, we're trying to stay within the framework of the law," she said. When reminded that her son has three warrants out for his arrest, she said, "He's doing what's right for the child."

Return to CPF home page