24 Oct 2011

The Author

Author of the award-winning book Finding Fernanda. Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Redux Pictures photographer. Read more here.


Asociación Primavera lawyer, director found guilty of human trafficking in “Karen Abigail” case

UPDATE: The verdict from Guatemala is in.

Both women have been found guilty of human trafficking, document fraud, and criminal enterprise (“asociación ilicita”). Valle Flores de Mejia received a sentence of 21 years in prison. Noriega Cano will serve 16. Both women have been ordered to pay Loyda Rodríguez and her husband Dayner Hernández 100,000 Quetzales (about $12,800 USD) in damages.

The media has picked up the Associated Press piece about the verdict, and you can read it here at Newsday: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/guatemala-sentences-2-in-us-adoption-case-1.3270090.


This morning, Timothy and Jennifer Monahan of Liberty, Missouri appeared on the CBS Early Show. They spoke about the Guatemalan court order that has ordered them to return their adopted daughter, “Karen Abigail López García,” to Guatemala. You can read a transcript here. On the show, an attorney for the Monahans, Jared Gensler of Perseus Strategies, said that the ruling has no jurisdiction in the United States.

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Consular affairs, a judicial request for an adopted child to be returned to Guatemala has never happened before.

The CBS Early Show made no mention of the trial, which began hours after the Monahan interview aired. In Guatemala City, two of the ten people facing criminal charges in relation to the American family’s adoption of Karen Abigail were in court, facing human trafficking charges with a maximum 26-year sentence.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known by the Spanish acronym CICIG, is serving as complementary prosecutor to the Ministerio Público on this case. In a press release from last week, CICIG stated:

“In the concluding phase of the case of irregular adoption of the child Anyely Liseth Hernández Rodríguez, CICIG has asked that the Tribunal Octavo de Sentencia Penal sentence lawyer Alma Beatriz Valle Flores and Enriqueta Francisca Noriega Cano, accused of participating in this illegal process, to 26 years in prison.”

The announcement said that the 26 years would represent 12 years for human trafficking, 6 years for the use of false documentation, and 8 years for criminal enterprise, a charge typically used against organized crime. The prosecution had also asked for Valle Flores to be declared unfit to practice law.

Valle Flores is the lawyer who handled some of the paperwork associated with Karen Abigail López García’s adoption. Noriega Cano was the director of Asociación Primavera, the private nursery where the child allegedly lived from September 2007 until leaving Guatemala in December 2008.

CICIG is also recommending that the founder of Asociación Primavera, Susana Luarca, face similar charges of human trafficking, use of falsified documents, and criminal enterprise in connection with Karen Abigail López García’s adoption.

In an email this morning, CICIG spokesman Diego Alvarez told me that the child has not been returned to Guatemala, and that Susana Luarca currently remains under house arrest in Guatemala.

Photographs are from Ministerio Público records.
  1. Is there a clip of the CBS interview available ?

  2. Erin:
    My understanding is that Luarca is not under house arrest. She is incarcerated in one of Guatemala’s prisons. I have that from solid sources. Double check on the ‘house arrest’ part of your information here. Thanks for the update!

  3. We would be personally interested if any records still exist from the primavera Hogar on birth mothers of children adopted from 2004 to 2006??

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