Colorado mom denies plot to kidnap son from foster home
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado woman accused of plotting with QAnon supporters to kidnap her son from his foster home denied Thursday there was ever a planned raid, saying she ended up meeting members of a group that offered to help get her son back legally after reaching out for help on social media but they did not.
Cynthia Abcug’s lawyer said his client may have made mistakes after her son was removed from her home in 2019, including letting a military veteran she never met before sleep on her couch to provide protection for her and accusing social workers on social media of seizing children to sell them.
Still public defender Ara Ohanian urged jurors to acquit her, saying there was no evidence Abcug had plans to launch a raid or that she had taken any steps to try to pursue one.
“She did not commit any crimes,” he said during closing arguments in Abcug’s trial in Castle Rock, south of Denver.
Earlier in the day, Abcug testified that the group told her it wanted to reform the family court system and promised it could help her file paperwork to get her son back after she reached out for help on social media. But she said it turned out to be a scam with members interested in stealing money raised online to help parents who had lost custody of their children.
She did not specifically describe the group as being involved with QAnon but said she heard references to the conspiracy theory by people she met through her activism online.
After the lock on the back sliding glass door at her townhome in Parker was found broken, one of the supporters she met arranged for the veteran to be sent to stay with her, sleeping on a couch with a view of the door, she said.
“My anxiety was out the roof and I was trying to have some hope I would get my son back,” she said.
Abcug said she bought a gun around this time because she feared for her safety but never made it to an appointment for a training class and has never fired it, she said.
Abcug said the man she allowed to stay with her, who has not been charged, coordinated with others to take her to a “safe house” after her 16-year-old daughter told authorities about fears that her mother was working with QAnon supporters to have her brother kidnapped. Abcug said she and the man left after the daughter was also removed from her home by social workers in September 2019 and implied that she was held her against her will. Abcug said her phone was taken from her and she was held for three months in a hotel.
She did not discuss any other details about this time but she was found in Montana, where she was arrested in on Dec. 30, 2019, after leaving home.
Abcug is charged with both conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, a felony, as well as misdemeanor child abuse. Authorities say she lied about her son’s health problems to doctors, causing him to be subjected to unnecessary procedures, and told staff at his school that he suffered seizures, had trouble walking and swallowing and was dying. The boy has not suffered any medical problems since being put in foster care in May 2019, Chief Deputy District Gary Dawson said.
The prosecution’s kidnapping case is largely based on the account of Abcug’s daughter. The daughter testified that she did not think her mother knew where the foster home was located and did not think her mother was going to use the gun as part of the raid.
Ohanian said the daughter assumed that the man providing protection was a QAnon supporter but Ohanian said he was not.
Many QAnon supporters believe former President Donald Trump was fighting enemies in the so-called deep state to expose a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters they believe secretly runs the globe.
The conspiracy theory was not a main focus during the trial. Abcug said she heard references to it in passing in talking to people she met online. Rubber bracelets with a phrase used by QAnon supporters, Storm Is Upon Us, as well as a website known for posts about QAnon printed on them were found in Abcug’s home, according to police. Abcug said she got the bracelets after attending an event she was invited to by one of the people she had met through her online activity.
Abcug’s lawyers have denied there was any evidence of lying about her son’s conditions and seeking unnecessary treatments, referred to as medical child abuse. They say other family members witnessed him having seizures and suggested at least some of his other health problems were side effects of medication prescribed to treat the seizures. He was being weaned off the drug when he was removed from Abcug’s custody.