Victims' Rights Caucus


HOUSTON - August 31, 2006 is a day forever etched into Marty Pate's memory.

Marty didn't know it then but that day would become the last time he would see his little girl standing on U.S. soil.

"I feel like I'm still stuck in August 31, 2006 in this situation," Marty said. "I just don't feel like no progress has been made whatsoever."

But not from a lack of trying.

After our first report aired about Marty's ex-wife defying a court order and moving to Brazil with the couple's daughter, U.S. Congressman Ted Poe got involved. In recent remarks on the house floor Poe called Brazil a haven for children kidnapped from the U.S.

From the the house floor Poe told other lawmakers," FOX 26 news in Houston Texas first brought attention to the story of one little girl stolen from her father."

A father who was granted custody of Nicole by a Harris County judge but can't get Brazil to return her to Houston.

"The biggest thing I'm concerned about right now is my mother who is 67-years-old," Marty said. "Will she ever see her granddaughter again before she passes on?"

Criminal charges are now filed against Marty's ex-wife.

"It's against federal law of the United States to take a child that's in the custody of one parent after the divorce is over with and take off and kidnap them to another country and hide out in that country," Poe said.

But the fact that it's a crime doesn't seem to stop a lot of parents.

According to a report Fox 26 obtained from the U,S, State Department, there's a significant increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases.

The report states in fiscal year 2009 there were 1,135 new cases of international parental kidnappings. That's almost a 50 percent increase when compared to the previous reporting period.

"That is incredible that our government would stand by and allow that to happen without stepping up and saying we got a serious issue here with our children and we need to do what we have to do to protect our children," Marty said.

According to the state department report Brazil is one of three countries not in compliance with the Hague Treaty. That treaty prohibits countries from holding judicial proceedings to determine custody. But that's exactly what Brazil plans to do in Marty's case.

"And now they want to have a hearing in a Brazilian court to determine custody," Poe said. "That's already been done years ago that was done in the United States."

Marty has given up having custody of Nicole. He just wants his ex-wife to allow her to travel to Houston once or twice a year.

But Marty's ex-wife apparently fears he will do to her what she did to him.

"I know for a fact that's a fear of my ex-wife's," Marty said. "But I will say this and I will say it on camera: I'm not going to do that to my daughter."

Poe plans to meet with Brazilian officials in hopes of resolving Marty's situation diplomatically. If that fails Poe said all foreign aid to Brazil should stop.

"We shouldn't be giving aid to foreign countries that violate the rule of law and harbor American children that are kidnapped to Brazil," Poe said.

Poe hopes to have the case resolved this summer.

But for a father whose waited almost 4 years, se