Bruce Faust says he is ready to go to jail to keep his 6-year-old son from spending the night in prison with his ex-wife. The woman is serving two life sentences for the murder of Bruce's girlfriend and a man who tried to come to her aid.
Kimberly Faust is serving her time in the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, which for 26 years has allowed inmates to receive overnight visits from their children if they are under 8 years old.
She was convicted last winter in the slayings of Shannon Bluhm, 27, and Robert Parminter, 45, who were killed outside Parminter's home on April 25, 2000. Prosecutors said Kimberly Faust stabbed Bluhm in her car and then set it on fire. Parminter ran from his home and pulled Bluhm from the burning vehicle. Kimberly Faust then shot them both.
At the time, Bluhm was dating Bruce Faust, who had filed for divorce from his wife two months before.
As part of the Fausts' divorce agreement, Bruce was given custody of their two children, 6-year-old Jared and 11-year-old Dalton, but Kimberly was given visitation rights, including whatever visitations were allowable under penalty rules.
Though she has only been in the prison since May, when a jury opted to sentence her to two life terms plus 80 years rather than give her the death penalty, Kimberly Faust had already achieved the good-prisoner status required for her to receive overnight visits from Jared.
That has not convinced Bruce Faust, though, and today he faced a hearing in Otoe County Court in Nebraska City, Neb., on a contempt of court order filed by his ex-wife's attorney for failing to comply with the terms of the divorce settlement.
At the hearing, Otoe County District Judge Randall Rehmeier ruled that the dispute between Bruce and Kimberly Faust can be settled at a civil trial. No trial date was set. Before today's hearing, Bruce Faust said he would not allow their son Jared to have overnight visits primarily because of concern for his safety.
"I don't trust her to keep him overnight by herself. I don't know the conditions, if she's guarded or what," he said. "Going out and murdering two people — when she's done that, it's not worth taking any chances with his safety."
Lawyer: Father Agreed to Visits
Kimberly Faust has said she will not talk to the media, but her lawyer, Tom Wilson, said Bruce Faust is being vindictive to his ex-wife, and hurting his children in the process.
"The children want to visit her," Wilson said. "They've participated in visitations all through this process."
He disputed Bruce Faust's claim that he does not know the terms under which the visits will be carried out, or that he was unaware that the custody decree he agreed to included the possibility of overnight prison visits.
"That's ridiculous," Wilson said. "He already knew that this was going to occur. He sat in court and testified that he understood the terms and that he would comply. These terms were approved by the court."
Bruce Faust said his biggest concern is the effect that visiting his mother will have on the boy. It's not that he thinks Jared will be shocked or disturbed by what he finds in the prison, though, he said.
"I don't want him to think that's Mommy's house and prison's OK and doing crimes are OK," Faust said. "That place is like a country club. It doesn't look anything like a prison, except for the barbed wire."
Jared has already gone once to the prison for an overnight visit, but when Bruce Faust learned the child was going to sleep there, he sent his attorney to the facility to get the child back. Prison officials took the child back from his mother, they said, because they had no right to interfere with the wishes of the boy's legal guardian.
Other prisoners staying on the floor at the time told KETV television station in Omaha that the boy cried and had to be "torn out of his mother's arms."
Inmates, Bunnies and Clowns
The area where inmates are allowed to have overnight visits from their children or to raise children who were born while they were already incarcerated is one floor that is isolated from all the other inmates. The stairs leading up to the floor where children are brought for their visits are decorated with bunnies, clowns and balloons painted on the walls.
There is a day room with a television and toys for the children, but the rooms are "spartan," like college dormitories, according to Nebraska Correctional Center for Women warden Mona Reynolds. She said that during the time inmates spent with their children they had a key to their own room, and could wear their own clothes.
Women with children from 1 to 8 years old are allowed up to five overnight visits a month. Mothers with children less than 1 year old or between the ages of 9 and 16 can have five daytime visits per month on the floor.
The visits are only allowed for inmates who have not had their parental rights terminated by the courts and are not under disciplinary or restricted status for violating prison rules, or in prison for hurting a child, Reynolds said.
She said that out of the population of roughly 260 inmates, 80 percent had children — most of them under 18 years old — and that over the last six months there had been an average of 18 overnight visits and 36 day visits per month.
The program is said to not only help the prisoners by allowing them to maintain maternal ties with their children, but to help put the youngsters' minds at ease.
"What I see as one of the best parts of this program is that the children can come out here and have a really good quality visit with their mother," Mary Alley of the prison's parenting program said. "They are relieved that she's safe."