Man accused of hiding child denied bond

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Advertiser Staff and News Services

A man accused of leaving Florida with his daughter and hiding out in
for five years was denied bond after he pleaded not guilty in a court
hearing yesterday in Florida.

Jon Michael Bryan was ordered to remain in jail in West Palm Beach
pending a
plea agreement or a trial despite testimony that his ex-wife previously
tried to take the child to live in Germany.

Bryan is charged with concealing a child against a court order, a
third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years. But federal
charges of kidnapping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution have been

Under sentencing guidelines for the remaining charge, Bryan would get up
one year in jail, but the judge can increase or lower the sentence.

Circuit Judge John Hoy quoted from Bryan and Elke Hoercher’s 1996 divorce
agreement, which noted the mother’s attempt to keep their daughter in
Germany and ordered both parents not to hide the child’s whereabouts from
each other.

“Given the fact that he took her to Hawai’i and made exceptional efforts
conceal who she was and who he was, and that he has no compunction about
violating a court order, he’ll be held without bond,” Hoy said of Bryan,

Defense attorney David Roth failed to convince the judge that Bryan, who
waived extradition, would appear for trial.

“Jon understood the reasons for the judge’s decision,” Roth said later.

Bryan was arrested Oct. 29 in Kaua’i and charged with taking his daughter,
Angeline Bryan-Hoercher, now 11, to live in Hawai’i. According to the FBI,
Bryan picked up his daughter from her mother for a scheduled visit on June
28, 1998. But when Bryan was due to return the girl a month later, the FBI
said, the two were nowhere to be found.

Authorities received a tip last month that Bryan and his daughter were
living on Kaua’i. Kaua’i police confirmed they were living in Kapa’a under
the names Jonny Lee and Lana Lee. Police and state Child Welfare Services
workers pulled the child out of school Oct. 29 and let her talk to her
mother on the phone. Minutes later, Bryan was arrested at the school when
arrived to pick her up.

The girl returned to Palm Beach County with her mother Thursday.

A psychologist on Kaua’i had determined last week that Angeline could
in the custody of her mother, whom she hadn’t seen since 1998.

Bryan was brought to West Palm Beach over the weekend by Roth and a

Hoy scheduled a hearing for Dec. 17 to set the case for trial if Roth and
the state attorney’s office can’t work out terms for a plea.

This report was written by the Associated Press with contributions by
Advertiser staff writer Jan TenBruggencate.

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