A judge ruled Monday that a mother who has been jailed for 22 months in a bitter custody dispute should remain incarcerated until she reveals her daughter's whereabouts or turns the child over to city authorities.
Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, a prominent Washington plastic surgeon, was jailed in August, 1987, on contempt of court charges after refusing to produce her daughter, Hilary, for court-ordered visits with Eric Foretich, Morgan's ex-husband and the girl's father.
Morgan has alleged that Foretich sexually abused Hilary; Foretich has repeatedly denied those charges.
District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon ruled that Morgan should remain in jail because she has neither produced Hilary nor turned her over for evaluation by an independent team of psychiatrists. Dixon made his ruling after an appeals court directed him to review his December, 1988, decision to keep Morgan in jail.
Stephen Sachs, Morgan's attorney, has argued that the coercive purpose of the civil contempt jailing has failed--and turned to punishment--because Morgan has demonstrated her willingness to remain in jail.
Dixon ruled that Morgan should remain in jail because she has not availed herself of an opportunity to go free by turning the child over.