Court decision offers glimpse into negotiations with father accused of abducting 7-year-old Sask. girl

·4 min read
In November 2021, Michael Gordon Jackson took his seven-year-old daughter to an undisclosed location. He later told an online talk show host he took the girl to prevent her from getting vaccinated against COVID-19. RCMP found the girl and her father in a parking lot in Vernon, B.C., on Feb. 24 and arrested Michael. He is now charged with abduction. (Submitted by Mariecar Jackson - image credit)
In November 2021, Michael Gordon Jackson took his seven-year-old daughter to an undisclosed location. He later told an online talk show host he took the girl to prevent her from getting vaccinated against COVID-19. RCMP found the girl and her father in a parking lot in Vernon, B.C., on Feb. 24 and arrested Michael. He is now charged with abduction. (Submitted by Mariecar Jackson - image credit)

As Regina's Mariecar Jackson waited for news about her missing daughter, police approached her with an offer from her husband — the man who allegedly abducted the seven-year-old.

The offer from the fugitive: Would Mariecar agree not to vaccinate their daughter against COVID-19, if she was returned to her care?

Negotiations between police, Mariecar and Michael Gordon Jackson, the man from whom she was separated, are quoted in a decision of the family law division of the Regina Court of Queen's Bench dated April 20, which only recently became available.

After weeks of searching, Michael Jackson and the seven-year-old were found in Vernon, B.C.

He was charged with abduction, while their daughter was reunited with Mariecar.

The April 20 Queen's Bench decision by Justice Michael Megaw references a sworn affidavit from Mariecar and outlines the behind-the-scenes details of what happened leading up to that point.

WATCH | 7-year-old found, Michael Jackson arrested on Feb. 24, 2022:

On Nov. 10, Michael picked up his daughter for his "parenting time."

He refused to return her when he was supposed to and fled to an undisclosed location over a dispute about whether the seven-year-old would be vaccinated against COVID-19, the court decision says.

After Mariecar was able to speak with her daughter on Nov. 21, she applied for a court order "compelling the return of the child to her and for the assistance of the police in enforcing any such order," it says.

That order was granted on Nov. 26, but Michael refused to return the seven-year-old, according to the Queen's Bench decision.

It details the struggle that ensued as Mariecar attempted to use the legal system to get her child returned to her.

Concern over 'lack of resources' from police

By early January, she had contacted police, hoping they could enforce the court order.

"She expressed concern over her perception of the lack of resources committed to the enforcement by the authorities," the decision reads.

Mariecar even filed an application seeking an order for contempt against police, hoping to see RCMP and the Regina Police Service "more effectively investigate the matter."

The order was later withdrawn by Mariecar after authorities assured her and the court that they were taking the investigation seriously.

The decision does not indicate when Mariecar sought the contempt order or when she withdrew the application.

However, the RCMP did issue their first press release on Jan. 15, asking for public assistance in locating Michael and the missing seven-year-old.

That was a few days after CBC News broke the story about Mariecar's plight.

Michael was charged with abduction and a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest was issued later that month.

The affidavit quoted in the judicial decision indicates that the police negotiated with Michael through a third party.

According to her affidavit, Mariecar said that from Jan. 22 until Michael's arrest, she and her counsel "were in close contact with the RCMP with respect to the investigation into [X's] whereabouts," the affidavit reads, with the "X" standing in for the child's name.

At some point in the negotiations, Mariecar was approached by the RCMP with the offer about not vaccinating their daughter if she was returned.

Her legal team provided a letter and an affidavit that agreed to the terms. Although the RCMP delivered it to Michael, "he did not ultimately return [X] voluntarily."

'Escalating' demands

"RCMP officers advised me on several occasions that Michael's 'demands' were 'escalating' in relation to his requests of me, regarding the family law matters pending," Mariecar's affidavit said, according to the Queen's Bench decision.

The decision doesn't say when the negotiations took place, but the Mounties continued to seek the public's support through February, even releasing a video featuring Mariecar asking for help locating her daughter.

In response to Mariecar's application to find him in contempt for disobeying the custody orders, Michael filed an application with a range of requests, including asking that Justice Megaw be recused as the judge hearing the contempt application.

Justice Megaw's April 20 decision in response to Michael Jackson's application found that it was "in its entirety … without merit and it must therefore be dismissed."

He instead ordered that a hearing on the contempt matter must be held. That is set to go forward on May 24.

The decision also says Megaw granted an order requested by Mariecar on March 11 that suspended Michael's parenting privileges and restricted how he could contact their daughter or Mariecar.

If Michael is released from custody, he is prohibited from entering Regina unless it is required for his legal matters, the decision says.

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