Syesha Mercado and her partner Tyron Deener took part in a press conference on Tuesday (August 17). The American Idol season 7 alum broke down in tears as she spoke about the fight to regain custody of her son and newborn daughter. Both children were taken away by Florida CPS.
Syesha sobs as she describes her ordeal, Partner blames racism
“This is my first time being a mom and I’ve been deprived of holding my babies and feeding my babies. I didn’t get to see Ra say ‘momma’ for the first time and I didn’t get to see my babies meet for the first time,” she said at the press conference.
“I’m just missing out on so many precious moments,” she continued. “I’ve been deprived of that and I don’t know how to articulate it, but it just hurts so bad.”
Tyron told reporters that he thinks his family was judged and criminalized “because of how we present ourselves, our culture, the way we look.”
Syesha’s son, Amern’Ra was taken by CPS in March when he was 13 months old. Her daughter Ast was taken last week, just days after she gave birth. The couple posted a dramatic video of Manatee County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies stopping her car in a surprise welfare check and taking the child.
Attorney calls CPS allegations “a complete lie”
Syesha’s attorney said Tuesday that CPS got involved because of allegations of medical neglect. We Have the Right to Be Right, an activist group campaigning for the family, said Syesha took her son to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on Feb. 26 for dehydration due to him struggling with the transition from breast milk to solid foods.
Attorney Derrick McBurrows told reporters that CPS alleged that Mercado had not taken her son for a medical visit prior to bringing him to Johns Hopkins.
“We’ve explicitly provided evidence that completely refutes that,” he said at the press conference. “It’s a complete lie. It’s a complete fabrication.” According to the attorney, Syesha took her son to Englewood Community Hospital on Jan. 30.
“The mother was having lactation issues,” McBurrows said. “This is a first-time mother who was seeking help yet she was criminalized.” Authorities took Mercado’s newborn daughter, he added, because they were “piggy-backing off of Amen’Ra being in a temporary medical placement.”
The children are staying with an “estranged” relative
Louis Baptiste, another family attorney said the children are together but are staying with a person the parents would not have chosen. McBurrows described the person as an “estranged relative.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office told NBC news via email on Wednesday that its Child Protection Investigation Division got involved after receiving information about a child at Johns Hopkins who “was suffering from severe malnutrition/failure to thrive.”
“Ultimately the child, by order of a judge was sheltered and treatment took place. The parents refused to cooperate,” the sheriff’s office said. “The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Child Protection Investigation Division was no longer directly involved and Safe Children’s Coalition handled the case from there, including the most recent decision to shelter a second child born into the parent’s care.”
The sheriff’s office said a family court judge signed a pick-up order to take the couple’s daughter after repeated failed attempts to reach them.
In the meantime, the couple has set up a GoFundMe page which has raised over $400,000, more than doubling their initial goal of $200,000.