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MOTHER IN CUSTODY BATTLE REUNITED WITH DAUGHTER

MOTHER IN CUSTODY BATTLE REUNITED WITH DAUGHTER

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Dr. Elizabeth Morgan was reunited with her 7-year-old daughter, Hilary Foretich, during the weekend in Christchurch, New Zealand, after a 2 1/2-year separation brought about by a custody dispute.

Morgan, who had been in Auckland, New Zealand, for the past two weeks conferring with her New Zealand attorney, flew to Christchurch Saturday and joined her daughter and parents, Bill and Antonia Morgan, at the Diplomat Motel, where the Morgans have lived with Hilary for 18 months.Since her arrival in New Zealand, Morgan, a plastic surgeon from Washington, D.C., has refused to talk to reporters about her intentions in the battle for her daughter's custody and has taken pains to avoid journalists at airports and outside her attorney's office.

Under New Zealand Family Court law, no information concerning a case can be made public without the permission of the presiding judge. Anyone who does make such information public within New Zealand, including journalists who report leaked information, can be prosecuted for contempt of court.

When Hilary was discovered in Christchurch a month ago, New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer said the family would be allowed to remain in the country until the custody case was tried.

A court in Washington has already ruled on the matter, giving custody of Hilary to her mother with provisions for unsupervised visits from her father, Dr. Eric Foretich, an oral surgeon from Washington.

It was Morgan's refusal to allow those visits, based on her accusations that Foretich had sexually abused Hilary, that led to Morgan's spending 25 months in jail for contempt of court. Morgan sent Hilary into hiding rather than allow visits with Foretich, who denies his former wife's allegations of abuse.

The Washington court's ruling cannot be enforced in New Zealand, which is not party to a United Nations convention on the return of abducted children to their native country.

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