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Jailed U.S. missionary faces business, personal woes

Associated Press
BOISE — As an Idaho woman sits in a jail in Haiti, her Internet business is closing and her ex-husband is seeking sole custody of their 5-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. Terry Silsby also has asked the courts to demand immediate return of his children’s passports and require that Laura Silsby obtain “medical clearance” before having contact with them. Laura Silsby is being held on suspicion of kidnapping after trying to bus 33 Haitian children to the Dominican Republic. Terry Silsby said he’s concerned his ex-wife may continue the orphanage plans and take their children there. “Statements made by my children also confirm that Laura plans to reside in the Dominican Republic. Both … have told me that Laura plans to take them with her to the Dominican Republic where she is going to set up residence,” Terry Silsby said in the affidavit, The Idaho Statesman reported. Her attorney declined to comment. In an interview on NBC earlier this week, Laura Silsby spoke about her children. “My heart aches to be home with my children. I miss them more than I can express,” Silsby told NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman. A custody hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday in Ada County Magistrate Court, but court clerk Mary Ann Lara said the hearing was canceled because an out-of-court agreement was reached. Details on the agreement were not immediately available; Terry Silsby and his attorney declined to comment. A trial has been set for Aug. 20 to sort out remaining custody issues. The couple’s divorce was made final in January 2007 but the proceedings have dragged on in court, with Terry Silsby contending that his ex-wife took the children to a wedding in the Dominican Republic without his permission during his custodial time. Meanwhile, Alan Taylor, an eastern Idaho farmer and one of the directors of Laura Silsby’s business, Personal Shopper Inc., says the company is closing this week. Personal Shopper is the subject of a host of lawsuits and unpaid wage claims. Attorney Gerald Husch has been representing Silsby and her company in a lawsuit filed by former employee Robin Oliver, who said she’s owned thousands of dollars in back wages. But on Wednesday, a judge granted Husch’s request to be removed from the case. Oliver’s attorney, John Kluksdal, says Husch filed an affidavit with the court saying he’s owed $19,000 for his work on the case. Silsby and Personal Shopper have about 20 days to notify the court of their plans now that Husch has withdrawn. If they don’t, Kluksdal can file for a default judgment. Nine other Baptist missionaries involved in the case have been released from jail and left Haiti. Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said March 12 that he has until May to decide whether to release Silsby or order a trial.
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