Paul Petersen raised eyebrows over a decade ago when he allegedly arranged for a pregnant woman from the Marshall Islands to give birth in the U.S.
By Dorian Geiger | Oxygen
An Arizona public official remains behind bars following accusations he masterminded a human trafficking and adoption fraud scheme, which reportedly spanned three states.
County assessor and adoption attorney Paul Petersen was indicted this week on 32 felony charges, including 28 counts of fraudulent schemes of practices, one of conspiracy, one of fraudulent schemes of artifices, one of theft, and one of forgery, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com. He’s been accused of making arrangements for pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to enter the U.S. to give birth and put their children up for adoption, despite it being against the law.
However, newly surfaced court documents appear to show that a Maricopa County Superior Court judge had called the legality of Petersen’s adoption services into question in 2006, according to KPHO-TV, local CBS affiliate.
Petersen supposedly had arranged for a pregnant Marshallese woman to fly to Mesa, Arizona, to give birth, but the judge later rejected the adoptive couple’s petition to finalize the process, according to the Arizona Republic. A court commissioner cited a U.S. law prohibiting citizens from the Marshall Islands from bringing their children into the U.S. to get adopted. However, the Arizona Court of Appeals later overturned the decision, ruling that the adoption was in the child’s best interest.
“We appreciate the juvenile court’s well-expressed concerns about the manner in which this prospective adoption was arranged,” Court of Appeals judges wrote in their decision.
Now some are questioning why it took more than a decade to bring legal action against the accused human trafficker.
“The judge has an obligation to report that lawyer to the state bar of Arizona,” family lawyer Kaine Fisher told Oxygen.com.