Judge Rules Joseph Reyes Can Take Daughter to Church

By Eamon McNiff

Apr 15, 2010 10:44am

ABC News’ Lauren Pearle Reports:

Joseph Reyes can now legally take his 3-year-old daughter to church, a Chicago Judge ruled yesterday.

Judge Renee Goldfarb had previously denied Joseph’s request to take his daughter, Ela, to church with him including on Easter Sunday.  But in her Tuesday decision dissolving Joseph and Rebecca Reyes’ marriage, Goldfarb changed that ruling, saying that Joseph’s church visits did not harm the child. 

Goldfarb believed Joseph’s argument that during church the toddler simply “waves at the other children, looks around and giggles” and wrote that it was in Ela’s best interest to give Joseph unrestricted visitation.

When the Reyes’ were married, Joseph converted to Judaism, and according to Rebecca Reyes, they agreed to raise Ela Jewish.

After the marriage fell apart, the couple became entrenched in a bitter divorce which escalated after Joseph had Ela baptized in November because he said he wanted to return to his Catholic roots. Rebecca then got a court order forbidding Joseph from exposing Ela to any religion other than Judaism, an order Joseph allegedly violated by taking Ela to church in February.  Tuesday’s ruling voids that order.

Although Joseph is now allowed to take his daughter to church, Goldfarb’s 30-page ruling included harsh criticism of the father.

“Joseph, at times, seems to choose what is in the best interest of Joseph, rather than what is in the best interests of Ela,” the judge wrote.
 
Goldfarb also noted that Joseph Reyes “chose” not to have visitation with Ela for a six-month span, and that he chose “not to get a job to help support Ela.”

She also criticized Joseph’s use of the media, including bringing along a TV news crew when he took Ela to church in February.

 “Joseph chose to make three-year-old Ela the center of his own media event, as seen on every local news channel, print media and national news channels during his visitation,” Goldfarb wrote. “Joseph chose to dispense three-year-old Ela’s picture to the media.”

According to her lawyer, Steven Lake of the firm Lake Toback, Rebecca is satisfied with the judge’s ruling.

“If you read the entire opinion, the judge was highly critical of Mr. Reyes’ poor judgment and decision-making.  He didn’t condone anything Joseph had done in the past like the  baptism and not being honest with priest,” Lake told ABC News.
 
“Time will tell if Joseph will respect that Ela is to be raised Jewish and not undermine that.” 

Joseph Reyes was not immediately available for comment.

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