MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For the past 60 days, Geoff Cole has been in the Dade County Jail.
“Why am I here?” Cole asked during an interview Thursday morning. “I think I’m here because the judge got angry at me – I don’t think I’m here because I broke a law.”
Cole was held in contempt of court because Family Court Judge George Sarduy believes he either knows where his runaway 14-year-old daughter is staying or he can compel the child to come forward.
When asked where Samantha is hiding, Cole responded: “I don’t know I wish I did. My little girl’s is missing. I know she’s safe, but it’s not right, it’s just not right. What these judges have done to my family is awful.”
Before running away Samantha claimed her mother has been emotionally abusive for years – screaming and belittling her constantly. Samantha’s brother Skye made similar allegations when he was a teenager against his mother.
“Ever since I was little she told me anything I did was worthless, everything I ever tried to do she told me I wouldn’t be able to do it, or tell me how bad I was,” Skye told CBS4 Investigator Jim DeFede. “If I was going somewhere she would tell me how bad I looked.”
Samantha and Skye’s claims were supported by a team of investigators from DCF in January. They found sufficient evidence to “substantiate the allegations of mental injury on the children by their mother.” The investigators went on to “strongly” recommend the children not live with their mother, Nancy Cole, and that a guardian ad litem should be appointed to protect the children.
“As much as you want to say children should be with their parents, nobody should have to be with somebody that makes them feel absolutely worthless,” Skye noted.
In the months that followed the initial DCF report, a cadre of attorneys and psychologists has intervened. Nancy Cole vehemently denies emotionally abusing her children. Instead she charges that her ex-husband, Geoff, has brainwashed her children against her – and are making them say terrible things about her as part of their 11 year divorce.
At least two psychologists testified in support of the mother and argued the children are victims of parental alienation – a controversial psychological diagnosis in which one parent is blamed with prejudicing a child against the other parent. Three different judges have sided with the psychologists and have ordered the children to live with their mother. Skye ran away twice after being returned to his mother. Now that he is 18 the court no longer has jurisdiction over him.
But Samantha is just 14. When she was forced to return to her mother in August she ran away.
“If there isn’t abuse, why do you have two kids saying the same thing?” Geoff Cole wondered. “If it was one kid, maybe, you have one child saying it and you have the other child saying it – that’s two witnesses.”
It is clear from the court transcripts Judge Sarduy believes Geoff Cole could compel Samantha to return home if he wanted. And when she first ran away all of the people she hid out with were tied to Geoff. Samantha stayed with Geoff’s mother and sister and reportedly stayed with two family friends.
“This is a 14-year-old who is very articulate and knows these people,” Cole said. “She makes her own phone calls, she asks for her own help.”
Asked what he would tell Samantha, Cole began to cry and said:
“Baby I love you, its okay, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. I’m glad that you are safe. I know that we’ll be together again, just trust God and do what you believe. I have always told my children to follow their heart and to look for their truth and their understanding of what’s really, really true; and to follow that. And I respect that and so Samantha I respect what you are doing and you’re an amazing young girl, amazing child.”
When it was pointed out that nowhere in his message did he ask her to return home, Cole said: “Well I love my daughter, and you know what I’m definitely not the kind of man that I would say to my daughter, `Sacrifice yourself to save me.’ I will sacrifice myself to save her.”