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Dad Jailed for 'Abducting' His Own Kids

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A lawyer breaks the case down for momlogic.

father jailed in japan

Christopher Savoie, 38, is imprisoned in Japan for kidnapping his children while they were walking to school with their mother, Norika Savoie. Back in August, his ex-wife had snatched the children from America and fled to Japan. Christopher has since been granted full custody by an American court.

We spoke with attorney Ron Brot, a lawyer who handled many international abduction cases, for more insight into this case.

"This case has as many red flags as you could ever have for a potential child abduction," he says. "Christopher had the suspicion that his ex-wife might try to abduct the children. He did everything he was supposed to do -- he went to court to report his suspicions, and for protection. But that's not to say that nothing else could have been done here."

Three things that were not done in this case that could have prevented the outcome, according to Brot, are as follows:

• In March, Savoie could have requested a court order in Japan consistent with the one he had in place in the U.S., but he did not do that.

• Christopher didn't get his kids' passports BACK when his ex and their children returned from a summer vacation to Japan. She fled with the kids two weeks later.

• In some states, you can even require a bond before a parent takes the kids on an international vacation. Savoie had the option of requesting that bond. That way, he would have a fund to help cover the astronomical cost of international litigation in Asia.

Brot says that Savoie went about getting his kids back the wrong way. "I understand his desperation and emotionalism, but that doesn't mean what he did was right," he says. "Re-kidnapping his children has landed him in jail, and just complicates an already complicated situation."

Now Christopher faces up to five years for the attempted kidnapping of his own children.

Most children who are abducted are taken by family members. Brot says that if you're worried that your soon-to-be ex might abduct your child, there are some steps you can take:

• Beware of dual citizenships. These are a red flag that you may be dealing with a possible future abduction. 

• During a divorce, if you run the table and make your spouse feel like they have nothing to lose, they may do the unthinkable because they have nothing to lose. If your spouse ever threatens to take your children, that threat cannot be taken lightly. (Christopher's ex at one point had said: "You have no idea what I'm capable of.")

• Make sure you are using appropriate lawyers who will make sure the proper orders are issued -- such as an order that your spouse can't leave the state, for instance, or the country without court permission. (Savoie had this -- but didn't obtain the same order in Japan, which might have helped.)

• Retain originals of your child's birth certificate and passport.

• Register your children into the U.S. Department of State Passport Services Lookout System. The registration will enable you to be contacted and informed if anyone applies for a new or replacement U.S. passport for your child. The system will also alert all national passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad if a parent registers an objection to the issuance of a passport for the child.

• Have your local law-enforcement agency fingerprint your child.

• There are many GPS tracking devices on the market now that you can place in a child's backpack, or ones that are implanted in their shoes, that you may want to consider. "We're not to the point we're going to implant our children with microchips, but we do LoJack our cars ... aren't our children more important than our vehicles?" Brot asks.

Our thoughts go out to the family at this time. Do you think Christopher should be in jail for trying to "abduct" his own children? Comment below.


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48 comments so far | Post a comment now
Emily October 7, 2009, 7:19 AM

Absolutely not! She ran to Japan against US orders. I think it is sick that a parent would do this. Not only to the other parent, but to the children as well.

Kristen October 7, 2009, 8:21 AM

This story leaves out A LOT of factual information. First off, this man lived in japan with his japanese wife for 14yrs, he speaks fluent japanese. Second, he brought them back to the united states to start a life here and then he CHEATED on his wife, left her, then married the other women. During there divorce he went to a judge requiring her to stay in the U.S. I have NO SYMPATHY for this man, he took advantage of his foreign born wife and brought her here knowing that the states would side with him and ask her to keep the kids here, also another thing, this couple is NOT legally divorced in japan. This guy is a scum ball and I say good luck to his ex-wife,I hope she is able to keep the kids, he was dirty and underhanded first.

missy October 7, 2009, 9:19 AM

Yes, because when he was snatching his kids, he was not alone. There were 3,4 guys helping him, together they forcibly took the children from the mother while she was walking with them to school . That sounds like a horrible crime to me. The police should arrest the accoomplices too.

There are misleading parts in this article.
Mrs.Noriko Savoie had primary custody first. Only after she had left the US,full custody was granted to Mr.Savoie.
Mrs.Noriko Savoie is not a US citizen, that can be found in the court transcripts.
Not only Mr. Savoie is a Japanese citizen, the children are also dual-citizens of the US and Japan.

The things people should know:
The kids grew up in Japan.
Mr.Savoie went to a graduate school and got master’s and PhD in Japan, with his ex’s father being a cosigner for his student loan,
started business there. Fluent in Japanese.
They had been married most of the time in japan.

Mr.Savoie served divorce papers the very next day of his wife Noriko’ arrival to the US.
Mr.Savoie remarried just one month after the divorce in TN.

Karen October 7, 2009, 9:42 AM

Typical one-sided article. Mr. Savoie got exactly what he deserved after uprooting his Japanese family to Tennessee just so he could marry his mistress and live happily ever after. I would not want to be a foreigner living in suburban Tennessee. Once the ex-wife’s permanent resident status in the US could not be renewed as she is divorced, no longer spouse of Mr. Savoie, would she then have been deported to Japan, leaving the kids to her ex-husband & his new wife (with whom he cheated during his marriage)?
Mr. Savoie’s actions disgust me. He got exactly what he deserved. The ex-wife and kids all got uprooted to Tennessee just because of Amy, his mistress. Mr. Savoie is incredibly selfish and self-serving.

logical October 7, 2009, 11:13 AM

He is a Japanese citizen, well aware of Japanese laws. He knew that it was illegal that’s why he tried to run to the embassy. If someone snatched kids off the streets of Nashville from the custodial parent in the US (despite a foreign court ruling) that person would have landed in jail too. They would land in jail even if they had a disagreeing court order from another state nevermind another country. Japan is enforcing its own laws and rulings just like the US would.

How badly could this have ended? If someone on the street had tried to stop him or if a policeman had seen the abduction in progress and pulled a weapon? Those children were already scared being pulled from their mother and into a car, they could have been physically hurt in that situation.

I don’t buy this whole desperate father line. He lived in Japan with his Japanese wife and Japanese kids for 14 years, they were only living here for 1 year. When he wanted to move back to the US he knew that his kids would stay in Japan with his wife unless he somehow got her to follow him to the US and then divorce her here. He filed for divorce within one month of her moving to Tenn with the kids. The kids staying in Japan with his wife was the situation he chose when he decided he wanted to move to the US and remarry.

November Rain October 7, 2009, 1:58 PM

C. Savoie:
- moves to Japan, meets his wife and gets citizenship status and the ability to stay and get a PhD status there. Through HER and through HER DAD being a guarantor for the school fees.
- CS is a Japanese citizen! He swore the oath that he would renounce any other citizenship. He shouldn’t even be in the US, he’s an illegal alien!!
- has two children with Noriko, who she cares for and who grow up in Japan with the Japanese family.
- things get rocky and Noriko asks for a divorce, which he refuses, probably knowing that he may not get custody of the children
- during that time he “hooks up” with his college lover Amy.
- he moves his business to TN, allegedly for profit reasons.
- he is with Amy, but telling his wife to come to the US to reconcile
- after 6 months, he has established residency in TN and the right to file for divorce there
- one day after Noriko’s arrival, she is served divorce papers
- he does not divorce in Japan
- Amy divorces her husband around the same time
- Amy and Christopher move in together, Noriko alone in a relatively foreign country.
- Noriko is awarded 800,000 “shut up money” and expected to buy a house with the money and stay in TN
- Hostility grows between the two parties, especially since Amy also brings three small kids into the mix.
- Noriko runs off to Japan
- CS hires three other people to help him “re-abduct” his children.

So he is a Japanese person that abducted his children from his wife in Japan. And that is why he is in jail.
I find it strange that a person who gave up citizenship calls for help from the stars and stripes suddenly. He was too greedy, he could have stayed in Japan if he wanted to see his children so bad.

Rori Raye October 7, 2009, 2:40 PM

Oh my, this is so terrifying. Ever since I saw the Sally Field move “Not Without My Daughter” many years ago…I find myself at odd moments staring into space with my fist in the air. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to feel so desperate that your children are not safe with your spouse - even your ex spouse - that you would risk everything and end up separated from them by force and kept behind bars. Thank you for sharing this with us. Rori Raye

Rori Raye October 7, 2009, 2:46 PM

Now that I’ve read all the comments, I wonder how this article managed to get posted in such a poorly researched way…and still…how could he…smarmy as he sounds…have been so STUPID?? Rori

karma police October 7, 2009, 3:07 PM

Please report real story. Thanks

mimi October 7, 2009, 3:53 PM

Very poor article….

You can not get a mirror order in Japan…

>Savoie had this — but didn’t obtain the same order in Japan, which might have helped.


No way to get the same order in Japan…

Truth? October 7, 2009, 5:35 PM

Thanks, you gave us some good info on steps to take to keep children in the country.

So what you are saying is that a parent can move his or her entire family to the US from country where children are born and raised. Then, one day after they arrived to the US, you divorce your spouse, ask the court to take away their passport, and you move in with your lover? Hummmm….. uprooting kids, trapping your spouse in a foreign country. A great idea! Because that’s what Mr. Savoie did in this case.

michaelqtodd October 8, 2009, 4:45 AM

Ok Some lawyer stuff back at ya
So what do ya`ll think he will go down for? Seems to be 5 offences so far 1.Bigamy.He was not divorced in Japan when he married Amy.So as a Japanese citizen he has committed bigamy.
2.Assault(on the mother Noriko when he snatched the kids.Please remember that any touching constitutes an assault.There are reports of bruising to her face)
3.Kidnapping.Took children from their care giver (under Japanese law on their way to school by use of force
4.Attempting to remove minors from Japan.Clear intention of this as he tried to enter US Consulate with them
5.False declarations when applying for Japanese citizenship.
Told Japanese Govt he had renounced US Citizenship
Gross stupidity is not yet an offence.Did he or his mates have an official and updated drivers licence? 5 years should be enough time to think things over no?

well October 8, 2009, 9:28 AM

It is kind of strange that Tenessee gave her full custody yet she was barred from moving back to Japan where the family had spent their whole lives together up until the divorce was filed.

well October 8, 2009, 9:35 AM

Supposedly, say Amy and Chris, Noriko knew the divorce was coming and still came to the states. And of course she did agree to stay in Tenn.
However I do see the possibility of her feeling roped into this even knowing what would happen. It seems she gave life in Tenn. a try but then changed her mind after seeing how life really was there away from everything she knew.
I don’t get why Chris thinks his ‘desperate actions’ are justified but didn’t sympathize with his ex’s ‘desperate’ circumstances.

Carlos October 8, 2009, 1:34 PM

Many posters are missing the forest for the trees. Japan’s one sided family law system that cuts one parent out of the lives of the children, strongly favors mother’s and Japaneses citizens and refuses to sign the Hague Convention probably went a long way to force the father’s hand. Don’t get me wrong, from what I’ve read he hardly sounds like a model husband or human being but if he wanted a divorce he’d be a fool to ask for it in Japan where he’d be virtually guaranteed to lose his kids forever. He did not try to cut the mother out of the children’s lives but it sounds as though he did try to force her to live in the US, a place where the children would have the rights to know both parents.

well October 8, 2009, 1:56 PM

It seems to me that Noriko gave coming here to the US a try so I would think that maybe she would have allowed him to have visitation in Japan. But, he seems to have decided it would be easier to make his old family pick up stakes and move than his new one.

Dsl Providers In Palo Alto November 24, 2010, 11:57 PM

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Cure Hemorrhoids November 27, 2010, 4:02 PM

Excellent reading. Thanks, I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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baltimore bail December 8, 2010, 10:39 PM

If the defendant misses a court date, you may be anticipated to help the bondsman see the defendant, to pay the bondsman’s costs for finding the defendant, and also to shell out the total quantity of the bond if the defendant can’t be found.


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