A mother fears he has not kicked his addictions or changed his ways
Part 5 in a Series
This is a story about one of the 5,615 divorce cases filed in Williamson County involving children under the age of 18 during the five-year period ending December 31, 2015. It started with a divorce in 2011, involved three separate lawsuits, and culminated last month with a final order.
Jack Walton Lumus, 43, might be less than a perfect father to his five children. Four of the children were born to three women. He adopted the fifth child (his third wife’s daughter) when she was 10. Four of the children now range in age from 19 to 22. For more than two years he did not see his youngest son, now 11 (and who will not be named in this story due to his age).
From the time he was a young man Lumus led a troubled life. This story will detail many of his transgressions including multiple occasions of abusing his wife and children. His third ex-wife and two of his older children, while emotionally distraught and fearful of reprisal, testified in court to the abuses they suffered and witnessed. Yet Lumus denied these allegations in his own testimony. Was he in denial and trying to evade responsibility, or were his ex-wife and children lying, as he testified?
Today the overarching questions are whether Lumus has overcome his admitted drug and alcohol dependency, whether he is faithfully taking the medication prescribed for his bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder), and whether he is equipped to provide love and guidance in the upbringing of the one child he has not alienated.
This story cannot provide a definitive answer as to whether Lumus is today a suitable parent. The effort is hobbled by the fact that, through his lawyer, Lumus declined to be interviewed. The many questions prepared for him will go unanswered.
“My client is not going to call you back. We will do what we did in the courtroom, which is where it should be handled,” said attorney Charles Sullivan of Jones Sullivan PLLC, based in Canyon Lake.
“Get your facts straight,” Sullivan warned. “I have sued the Austin American-Statesman and New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. (Neither newspaper could recall having been sued by Sullivan, who was licensed to practice law in May 2007.)
This story is based on police reports, criminal history files, more than 70 court records including transcripts and affidavits, and interviews with an ex-wife who says she has done what’s needed to protect her son. Given the boy’s age and that Lumus is allowed unsupervised visitations, this will remain her chief concern.
There are red flags. But only Jack Lumus knows if he is playing by the rules or he is deceiving others to get what he wants and not what’s best for the boy.
Broken relationships, bad conduct
In September 1990 at age 17 Jack Lumus enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, according to public records obtained from the National Personnel Records Center. A year later he went on active duty in Houston, went through boot camp in San Diego and was then transferred to Camp Pendleton, California.
Fewer than eight months into his active duty service, in April 1992, Lumus married Kimberly A. Cooley in Harris County when they were both 18, according to records maintained by the Harris County Clerk and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). (No record of their divorce was found.)
In August 1994, Lumus’s first son, Ethan Tyler Lumus, was born to Barbie Dale Blankenship. They were not married. Through a paternity suit she filed in Harris County December 7, 1994, Lumus was made responsible for child support collected through the Office of the Texas Attorney General. (Cause No. 199459639) Court records show the Attorney General twice filed enforcement actions against Lumus, once in 1996 and again in 2009.
In March 1995, when he was 21, Lumus married Brandie Renee Sampson in Harris County, according to records maintained by the Harris County Clerk and DSHS. She bore him a daughter that year, Breanna Nicole Lumus. A year later she gave him a son, Spencer Presly Lumus.
In July 1995 after almost four years on active duty, while serving as a machine gunner, Lumus was court-martialed, busted to private, and booted out of the Marine Corps with a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge. (The publicly available records do not describe the specific offense he committed or which of the two unfavorable discharges apply in his case.) Because of an automatic appeal in such courts-martial, he was put on unpaid leave and was not officially discharged until August 1996, just short of his twenty-third birthday. Records indicate he had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Expert Rifle Badge, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Good Conduct Medal (which is earned for outstanding performance and conduct during a three-year period of continued active service).
Brandi Sampson filed for divorce October 18, 1996. Their marriage ended in October 1997, Harris County and DSHS records indicate. Lumus was 24. A Harris County court ordered Lumus to pay child support for Breanna and Spencer through the Texas Attorney General. (Cause No. 119652989) Court records show the Attorney General twice filed enforcement actions against Lumus, once in 2002 and again in 2009.
The same month he divorced Sampson, Lumus was convicted of prostitution in Austin. He was fined $400, ordered to perform 40 hours of community service, and sentenced to six month’s probation, which he successfully completed, according to records maintained by the Travis County Clerk.
In November 1997, just a month after he was divorced and arrested for prostitution, Lumus started dating Christa Jeanette Jones, she said. They were married in Travis County in July 1999, both at age 26, according to records maintained by the Travis County Clerk and DSHS. Her daughter by a previous relationship was two years old at the time.
In interviews with The Austin Bulldog Christa Janda (the name she took after divorcing Lumus in March 2011 and remarrying in August 2014) said she didn’t find out about his prostitution arrest until afterwards. Janda also said she had “no clue” about Lumus’s previous relationships or that he had already fathered three children and was responsible for paying child support for them.
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into or I would’ve walked away,” she said.
What she got herself into was a lot of grief. So much so, Janda says, that she and Lumus did not live together during much of their marriage, which lasted not quite a dozen years.
Off to a bad start in Utah
Janda said that soon after they were married Lumus moved to Colorado for a year and she stayed in Austin. In November 1999 she moved to join him in Jordan, Utah, where things did not go well.
Police reports show that less than 18 months after Jack and Christa’s wedding, on December 16, 2000, while living in an apartment in South Jordan, Utah, Lumus was issued a citation for domestic violence that occurred during a heated argument with her. Two weeks later, police responded to the household and again found Lumus intoxicated. The couple had been arguing he had put red marks on her arms. He also removed the battery from a cordless phone so she could not call 911. Police arrested Lumus and took him to jail. On February 6, 2001, Lumus was fined $500 and sentenced to 45 days in jail. The intoxication charge was dismissed. The jail time and half the fine was suspended for payment of $250, according to records of the South Jordan Justice Court.
Janda told The Austin Bulldog that she dropped the charges against Lumus “because he said he would kick me and (my daughter) out in the cold.”
A witness to the couple’s tumultuous relationship in Utah submitted a sworn affidavit dated July 7, 2015, for Janda to use when they were back in court last year in an ongoing dispute about their son’s custody.
Anna Larson Collins was a neighbor in the same South Jordan apartments where Jack and Christa lived. Her affidavit states that from the fall of 2000 through January 2001, she witnessed Lumus verbally abusing his wife, pushing her, shoving her down, and punching her eye, causing swelling and bruising on her eyes, face, and arms. “She also often showed me bruises that were caused by him,” Larson wrote.
“I was with her when she called 911 several times,” the affidavit states. “Jack acted drunk and under the influence of drugs almost every time I saw him.”
“The constant abuse stands out in my mind for two reasons,” Larson wrote: “(1) it was horrific and my dear friend Christa and her daughter constantly suffered; and (2) I was at the beginning of my pregnancy with my third child. Christa called me in the middle of the night many times because she needed help. I helped her whenever I could by inviting her and her daughter over to my apartment so they could be safe.”
Collins’s affidavit was not introduced as evidence in Williamson County court proceedings, Janda said.
Relative calm, then more violence
The couple lived together on and off in the following years, in Oregon, Virginia, and back in Utah, mostly without incident, Janda said.
“I was better then at learning my place,” she told The Austin Bulldog.
Back in Texas, starting in 2007 trouble flared up again, according to police reports and transcripts of sworn testimony that that Janda, Ethan Lumus, and Izabella Lumus gave in a Williamson County Court in September 2013.
The occasion for that testimony was a trial to decide a lawsuit Janda filed the previous month to terminate Lumus’s rights to possession of his youngest son.
In addition, in November 2013 Janda sought a protective order. In support of it she signed an affidavit alleging numerous incidents of domestic violence committed by Lumus in 2009 and 2010 including choking; sexual assault; and trying to run the car off the road to kill her, himself, and their son who was in the back seat.
Some of the same offenses were also alleged in reports that Janda filed with the Georgetown Police Department May 29, 2013, which stated Lumus had grabbed her by the throat, held a knife to her throat, and threatened to kill both her and their son. The police reports state that Janda supported these allegations with two journals that she had kept on advice of her counselor. The reports state that police were unable to reach Lumus, who was living in Oregon at the time. Action on these allegations was suspended pending new leads.
Janda told The Austin Bulldog she did not file those police reports when the alleged events occurred because, “I was afraid he was going to kill me. He threatened me constantly that he would kill me. … He was arrested for harassment and at that time I was confident enough to share that information.”
Just weeks before the September 2013 trial, Lumus had returned from Oregon and been arrested by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office on a warrant issued for harassment, a Class B misdemeanor. In November 2013 Lumus pled guilty to harassing Janda—in violation of court orders not to contact her—by repeatedly calling and sending her 130 text messages over a two-day period, the police report states. He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to 180 days in jail—the maximum allowed for a Class B misdemeanor by Texas Penal Code Section 12.22. The confinement was suspended and Lumus was put on probation for 12 months. He also was ordered to pay $300 of the imposed fine and court costs, for a total of $657, and to perform 48 hours of community service.
The conditions of Lumus’s probation, filed with the Williamson County Clerk November 12, 2013, included conditions, one of which was to avoid “persons or places of disreputable or harmful character.” Lumus appears to have violated that condition, given his deposition given four months later on March 7, 2014. In the deposition he claimed that Laurel Yurchick, a felon convicted of manufacturing and/or distributing a controlled substance was his common-law wife and was living where he did, in his father’s house. In fact, when he gave the deposition she was confined in a facility for drug rehabilitation.
Another condition of parole was that Lumus “shall not operate a motor vehicle without a valid Texas driver’s license.” His license had been suspended in February 2012 for the conviction of “DUI Extreme (.15 or above)” in Mesa, Arizona.
Janda notified Lumus’s therapist, Kelley Baker, who had devised and was overseeing a court-ordered plan to allow Lumus greater access to his son in phases, and the owner of the visitation services company that helped administer the plan. Janda sent them both a DPS “License Eligibility” record for Lumus dated August 5, 2014, and provided a copy to The Austin Bulldog: The record states:
“Your license is currently NOT ELIGIBLE. A status of ‘not eligible’ means you are prohibited from operating any motor vehicle or obtaining a license at this time.”
“He is not only violating the conditions of his probation but he breaks the law every time he drives anywhere,” Janda’s message to them stated. “Please do not let (my son) ever go with Jack again.”
In a letter dated August 7, 2014, Janda also informed Marion Kimbrough, assistant director of Williamson County Probation, that Lumus was violating his probation for these and other reasons. Kimbrough replied via e-mail September 19, 2014, stating, “I reviewed the information and documentation you submitted and did not find Mr. Lumus in violation of his conditions of probation.”
“He was clearly still harassing me,” Janda told The Austin Bulldog. “Baker was made aware of it too and she did nothing. The court order said he could not see (our son) if he violated probation and he did.”
“I can’t blame Jack,” Janda said. “Jack was just being Jack.”
Trial to terminate Lumus’s rights
Janda’s petition to terminate Lumus’s rights to see his son was tried by Judge Betsy Lambeth of the 425th District Court of Williamson County on September 12 and 23, 2013. (Cause No. 13-2413-FC4)
The lawsuit alleged that Lumus had remained away for a period of at least six months, had endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child, and for a year failed to support the child. (In fact, that’s still the case. A court order issued September 16, 2016, awarded Janda a judgment for $33,552 that Lumus owes for child support arrearages, including accrued interest, medical expenses, court ordered spousal support, and federal income tax liability.)
In fighting Janda’s attempt to cut off access to his son, Lumus, who admittedly had seen his son only once in two years, sought to retain standard possession as provided in the agreed final divorce decree. His arrearages presented no bar to achieving that goal; the Family Code states that, “A court may not render an order that conditions the right of a conservator to possession of or access to a child on the payment of child support.”
Lambeth issued rulings in November 2013. Ultimately Lumus was allowed to retain the parent-child relationship with his son, then eight years old. But with conditions recommended by amicus attorney Jeremiah Williams and ordered by the court. The recommendations included therapy for the son, counseling sessions for the father and son together, new arrangements for communication between father and son, and restricting communication between Lumus and Janda to emergency situations. Each parent was authorized to request drug testing of the other. Any paramour of friend in close contact with the boy could also be drug tested.
The outcome was favorable to Lumus in that he would be allowed increasing contact with and possession of his son provided he successfully completed phases of treatment and passed drug tests.
While Lumus was given the right to earn more contact with his son, the transcripts of the trial leading up to that result provided voluminous testimony that Lumus was prone to violence and had abused his wife and children on numerous occasions—testimony that Lumus denied was true.
Two grown children testify to abuses
Ethan Lumus was a 19-year-old college student when he testified September 12, 2013. He said that his father assaulted him when he was 13.
Ethan testified, “[H]e grabbed me by the neck, pushed me down across the kitchen and into the living room over my brother’s chair, continued down on the ground and choked me on the ground and told me that if I ever talked to him like that again, it’d be the last word I ever said.” (Ethan said the incident was witnessed by his brother Spencer, who did not testify.)
“[I]f Izabella ever talked back to him…he would shove her against the wall and scream in her face and grab her arms. Izabella has had bruises on her arms and on her legs from him mistreating her,” Ethan testified.
Izabella Lumus was about to turn 19 when she testified in the same September 2013 hearing. She said that in 2009, when she was 15, she got into an argument with Lumus and “he started hitting me with a belt. I had welts up and down my arms and my legs. And I remember, because I was crying, he got mad and began to choke me; and my mom walked in the room and made him get his stuff and leave.”
Izabella belatedly filed a report with the Georgetown Police Department September 23, 2013, over the same incident, alleging assault with bodily injury. The Incident Report indicates no action was taken beyond accepting the information.
Asked by Janda’s attorney, Jessica Worden of the Austin-based Worden Law Firm, why she filed the report, Izabella testified, “I felt I needed to have something be done because at the time I was too afraid to do anything about it.”
“The last time I saw him,” Izabella testified, “We got in a really, really bad argument, and it was in front of his mom at her house. And I was a week away from having my daughter. … And he tried to hit me in front of his mom, and she freaked out on him and got in between us. … I felt like I was going into labor.” That was in 2012, she said.
Izabella said when the argument started she had texted her mother to tell her she was scared. “She had to have a police officer come out to his mom’s house because he took my phone and wouldn’t allow me to call her.”
Izabella testified she had changed her telephone number, “Because I didn’t want to have any contact with (Lumus), and I didn’t want my daughter to be around him.”
Both Ethan and Izabella testified to a 2011 incident that happened when Lumus had taken all five children to the beach for a Labor Day weekend. After Lumus had confiscated all of their cell phones, an argument ensued and Lumus demanded that Ethan, then 17, turn over his car keys. Ethan refused.
“He dragged me off the bed. He picked me up and slammed me back down on the bed and squeezed my head between his hands until I pulled my keys out and gave him my keys,” Ethan testified.
Ethan went to the office and called his mother and stepfather to come get him, which they did. “[H]e returned my car keys to my parents and then we left. And I didn’t talk to him for about a year after that,” Ethan testified.
Both Ethan and Izabella also testified to Lumus’s mistreatment of the youngest son—the one he was in court trying to defend his rights to see.
Once when the young boy was sick, Lumus tried to get him to take medicine and when he refused, Lumus began to spank and hit him, leaving welts “up and down his legs,” Izabella testified. Ethan testified the same, describing the injuries as bruises.
Both Janda and Izabella testified to a time when Lumus came home intoxicated and passed out on the bed. The youngest son, then four years old, started jumping on his father’s back and Lumus reached up and grabbed the boy and threw him down on the floor, fracturing his foot and requiring emergency medical treatment, where a protective boot was put on it.
“And the next morning he had been so intoxicated that he didn’t even remember what had happened,” Ethan testified.
When asked how he felt about testifying, Ethan replied, “Justified but afraid. I know that I’m doing the right thing, but I’m really afraid of what’s going to happen to me.”
Ethan testified that he was mainly concerned for the safety of his little brother. “I don’t want (him) to be 19 years old and afraid of his dad.”
Izabella was sobbing when she testified that in 2009, when living in Georgetown, she heard Lumus and Janda arguing and she peeked around the corner to “see him with her up against the wall … with a knife near her throat like he was going to kill her….”
The mother’s testimony
Janda testified that despite all the abuses that preceded her agreed divorce from Lumus in March 2011, she gave him standard possession in the suit that she handled pro se. “I agreed to do that because I was afraid,” she said. The decree states that the grounds for divorce was Lumus’s infidelity. She was appointed sole managing conservator of daughter Izabella, then 16, and the boy, age 6. Lumus was appointed possessory conservator.
“I gave him standard visitation knowing he would never come see my children. He moved away. … I thought if I didn’t give him standard possession I wouldn’t get my divorce,” she told The Austin Bulldog.
Janda testified about an e-mail in which, preceding the divorce, Lumus proposed to pay her child and spousal support if in return she would agree to perform specific sexual acts annually for four years. She provided The Austin Bulldog with a copy of that e-mail dated October 29, 2010, in which Lumus stated he also wanted to “talk sex to” her, get access to her Facebook page, and get pictures of her private parts.
Like Ethan and Izabella, Janda testified about how Lumus broke the young boy’s foot. “He body slammed him,” she said. “He shattered his foot.”
Janda also recounted the time in 2009 when she picked up Lumus from a bar and on the way home after midnight, while she was driving 70mph with their son in the back seat, Lumus “grabbed the steering wheel and tried to run us up in(to) a bridge. I grabbed the steering wheel and I kept us on the road. And then we went to the next bridge and he tried it again.”
When they finally got home, she said, Lumus took a knife that her stepdad had given him and “he put it up against my throat and he told me he was going to slice my throat, and then he was going to walk into the bedroom and slice (our son’s) throat, and then he was going to make me watch my son die and he was going to finish me off.”
Janda testified that allowing Lumus to have unsupervised visitation with their son would not be in the boy’s best interest.
“Jack fills my son’s head with empty promises and drama and chaos and lies and deceit, and I don’t want that for my son,” Janda testified. “He manipulates all of his children. He is never around. He never gives love and attention and affection that the children need. Every child needs this. Instead he gives gifts.”
When cross-examined by Lumus’ attorney as to whether Janda had allowed Lumus to have visitation with their son as specified in the divorce decree, Janda said she had done so but had insisted the visits be held at the Georgetown Police Station, where the boy would be safe and the visit would be supervised.
In response to questions from Lumus’s attorney, Janda said that in 2009 she was diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and since late 2008 had been receiving disability compensation.
Janda testified that that Lumus never took advantage of the visitations during summer and on holidays, to which he was entitled. He would say he was coming but “never showed.”
Answering a question from Lumus’s attorney, Janda said that in the past she had used cocaine and marijuana and that she currently drank alcohol.
Testimony by Jack Lumus and context
At the trial Lumus testified that his driver’s license was suspended for driving under the influence. He was not questioned about where that offense occurred.
In Mesa, Arizona on November 17, 2011, Lumus was charged with seven offenses, including DUI, speed not prudent, and interference with a judicial proceeding. On February 23, 2012, he pled guilty to “extreme DUI” (.15 to .19 blood alcohol content) and the other charges were dismissed, city records show. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and fined $2,811. Court records show his unpaid fine now totals $2,881. (Docket No. 2011094318)
Three months before that, Lumus was arrested for DWI in Baytown, Texas on August 7, 2011, according to records maintained by the Harris County District Clerk. That charge was dismissed January 30, 2012. (Cause No. 177391701010-2)
Lumus testified that he had used crystal meth as recently as two months earlier and had not been to rehab but was sober. He said the last time he drank alcohol was August 30, less than two weeks before the trial. He said he had taken a drug test September 9, 2013, four days before the trial, “to prove I was clean and sober and I wasn’t using drugs anymore.”
What Lumus did not say is that his drug test was based on a urine sample, according to a copy of the test results he introduced as evidence. He obtained the test from Fas-Test, located in Austin.
Quest Diagnostics, which in 2015 conducted 9.5 million drug tests for employers using urine collections, according to the company’s website, states that a urine sample can only detect drugs if the drugs had been taken within one to three days.
The court ordered that both Lumus and Janda take a drug test after court that day based on a fingernail sample. Instead, both got drug tests based on hair samples. Janda tested negative. Lumus tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine. (He testified in court that if drug tested it would show he also had used marijuana, but that did not show up in test results. He also testified that in the past he had used cocaine.)
Janda’s attorney questioned Lumus about his ongoing association with Laurel Yurchick, a person that Janda had raised concerns about being around her son.
And with good reason.
Records maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) show that Yurchick was arrested October 16, 2008, for the manufacture and/or delivery of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony.
On June 11, 2009, she pled guilty in Williamson County and was sentenced to nine months in prison. She was released from Huntsville February 10, 2010. Twelve days later she was sent back for another six months as punishment for substance abuse and put in an intensive therapeutic program required as a condition of community supervision. When released the second time May 31, 2011, she was placed on probation.
In the September 12, 2013, trial, Lumus testified he was dating Yurchick but adamantly denied that she was his fiancé, even though he had described her as his fiancé in an e-mail. Yet six months later, in Lumus’s sworn deposition of March 7, 2014, he said he had known Yurchick for 17 years and claimed that she had been his common-law wife “since August, September” — a direct contradiction of his earlier testimony in September 2013. He said he had only resided together with Yurchick over a weekend. At the time Lumus gave that deposition, Yurchick was involuntarily confined in a Williamson County rehabilitation facility for having failed a drug test while on probation. In the same deposition Lumus said that Yurchick was living at his father’s address.
Lumus’s father, Donald Thomas Lumus, testified September 23, 2013, that Yurchick had been staying at his house in Dripping Springs until a week to 10 days ago when she was arrested, and that Jack Lumus had stayed with him since returning from Oregon. Asked if he would kick Jack out of the house if he were aware of him using drugs, Donald Lumus replied, “Absolutely,” but said he had no knowledge of current drug use.
Despite the detailed accounts of abuse given by Janda, Ethan and Izabella, when Lumus was directly questioned by Janda’s attorney he denied almost all of the abuse. He denied breaking his son’s foot. He denied choking Izabella. He denied ever holding a knife to Janda. He denied ever threatening Janda or any of the children. When questioned by his own attorney, Lumus also testified that he never had sexually assaulted Janda.
He did admit to choking Ethan, then changed his testimony and said he didn’t choke him but “put him on the ground.” Lumus conceded he “was out of line” to have done that. (A text message that he sent to his ex-wife, showed less remorse, stating, “I whipped Ethan’s ass because he wouldn’t give me his car keys and was being a smart ass.”)
Janda’s attorney asked, “So it’s your testimony today that everyone else’s testimony is a lie?”
Lumus replied, “Yes, ma’am.”
Lumus testified that Janda had denied him phone calls with his son and that when he was allowed to talk to the boy the calls were monitored and recorded by Janda, who sometimes interfered. Janda testified that she did record the calls.
When questioned by his own attorney, Lumus testified the reason he had not come to see his son more often is that when he tried to coordinate dates well in advance to get a cheaper flight, Janda would never commit. “She told me if I come down that I wasn’t going to see my son; that she’d shoot me if I came on her front porch.” He also testified that Janda had made false accusations against other people, had filed lawsuits against companies, and filed a “frivolous report” against an attorney using Lumus’s name.
Janda was not asked to testify in response to any of these allegations.
Court adjourned September 12, 2013, without Lumus completing his testimony and resumed September 23, 2013.
On the second day of the trial, Lumus testified that he and Janda were both taking parenting classes as requested by Judge Lambeth and that he had been participating in Narcotics Anonymous—a 12-step program that includes no drinking—for almost 30 days. He conceded that if he were living in Arizona he would be required to get an ignition interlock installed in his car. Lumus also testified that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010 and was taking lithium for it daily.
Prescription records attached to Lumus’s motion of July 27, 2015, indicate that he filled a prescription for lithium starting October 11, 2013, through January 5, 2014, the last date being seven months before the motion was filed.
The court orders
Judge Lambeth ordered that the parents to continue with the New Ways for Families program. She ordered the son be allowed to have phone calls with Lumus daily from 4pm to 5pm.
Lambeth also approved a restraining order to prohibit Lumus from contacting Janda as well as Ethan and Izabella Lumus, given their concerns over repercussions from their testimony.
Other matters were left pending the recommendations of amicus attorney Jeremiah Williams, which were delivered in the next hearing November 13, 2013. He recommended appointing licensed professional counselor Kelley Baker as therapist for the son and also to conduct therapeutic sessions between father and son. Phone calls between father and son were to continue but were not to be recorded by either party. The mother would not be in the room during the son’s conversations. Lumus was to provide the boy with a telephone for this purpose. Williams recommended the parents communicate directly with each other only in case of emergency. Either parent could request that the other take a drug test, and could ask for any friend or paramour who is in close contact with the boy to be tested, too. Williams further recommended that parents should share their respective addresses.
Janda’s attorney argued that in view of Lumus’s conviction for harassment he should not be provided with Janda’s home address or phone number.
Judge Lambeth adopted all of Williams’ recommendations as an order of the court except that Janda’s phone number and residence would not be disclosed to Lumus.
Also on November 13, 2013—the same day that Lambeth ruled Janda’s phone number and residence would not be disclosed to Lumus—Janda filed a separate legal action, an application for a protective order. (Cause No. 13-3188-F425) If approved the protective order would have added extensive restrictions specified in three full pages, including barring Lumus from going within 200 yards of Janda, her children or the son’s school; denying Lumus access to his son or permitting it only through supervised visitation; and requiring Lumus to complete a battering intervention and prevention program.
Janda attached an affidavit that detailed numerous instances of violence allegedly committed by Lumus.
But in hearing held November 18, 2013, Lumus’s attorney argued—despite the previous testimony of Janda, Ethan Lumus, and Izabella Lumus—“There’s absolutely no history of violence in Mr. Lumus’s past. These are frivolous and unfounded accusation(s), and we believe are made in an attempt to harass Mr. Lumus into kind of giving up his attempts to see his son.”
Janda testified as to past violence and very recent phone calls from Lumus that were prohibited by the conditions of his probation for conviction of harassment.
Amicus attorney Jeremiah Williams noted that the recent order for Lumus to provide a cell phone to his son would allow him to speak to the boy without calling Janda. With that, Lambeth denied the request for a protective order.
On September 29, 2014, Judge Lambeth revisited the lawsuit in which Janda sought to terminate Lumus’s rights. She denied Lumus’s request to be named joint managing conservator, in part because he lives out of state. Lambeth allowed Lumus to remain possessory conservator. She barred the son’s contact with Laurel Yurchick until Lumus had reached the final phase of a plan devised by Kelley Baker.
“However, I want Mr. Lumus to understand that once you get to Phase 4, that I am depending on your judgment not to let anyone around (the boy) that has been using illegal substances,” Lambeth said.
The same conditions were imposed by a separate court order that Lambeth issued March 23, 2015, in a separate lawsuit that was a continuation of the original divorce litigation (Cause No. 10-3213-FC4-F425). This Modified Possession Order applied whenever Lumus lived more than 100 miles from the child’s residence.
The court ordered that exchanges of the son be conducted at Access Visitation Services, owned by Rhonda Hohmann with offices in Georgetown and Austin. At the time, Hohmann was also working as Baker’s assistant.
Lumus files to enforce visitation
Lumus filed a motion July 27, 2015, alleging that Janda had not produced their son for several visitations in accordance with court orders. His petition asked that Janda be held in contempt, jailed, and fined for each violation; that she be placed on community supervision for two years after release from jail; that she post a bond to ensure compliance going forward; and that Lumus be allowed additional periods of possession to compensate for denied visitations.
In response, Janda filed a general denial August 31, 2015, and followed September 8, 2015, with a motion alleging Lumus had not complied with the court-ordered conditions that were required to permit increased visitations. She asked that Lumus be limited to supervised visitations; cease violating the order by contacting his son through messaging, e-mailing or social media; and not to allow the boy’s contact with Laurel Yurchick; Lumus’s friend Suk Kim; or with any person known to have a criminal history or known drug and alcohol history.
Suk Kim, aka Suk Kon Kimwhitty according to the criminal records of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was born in South Korea and was twice convicted of driving while intoxicated for offenses committed less than a month apart in 2010. He was arrested by the Austin Police Department March 6, 2010, and by the Round Rock Police Department April 1, 2010. Both offenses were classified as Class B misdemeanors. According to the DPS records, for the first offense in Travis County, he pled no contest and was jailed for 14 days. On November 9, 2010, he was sentenced to two years probation. He pled guilty to the second offense in Williamson County and on November 9, 2010, was sentenced to four days in jail.
Lumus’s assertion that Janda was denying visitations with his son is undercut somewhat by the fact that he may have been less than truthful in arranging visitations. On January 11, 2016, Lumus e-mailed Janda to say that he wanted the February 2016 visitation on the second weekend that month instead of the first weekend. “This is due to work and I have already purchased tickets,” Lumus wrote.
Janda declined the request, saying in a reply sent January 22, 2016, “Don’t play these mind games with me. Rhonda (Hohmann of Access Visitation Services) and (I) both have it all in writing. You requested the time. I made plans around it.”
To which Lumus replied the same day, “Christa, I am not forfeiting my February visit. … I had a work related issues come up that requires (sic) me to work the first weekend of February hence my request to move the visit to the second weekend of February.”
As it turned out, Lumus did not work the first weekend of February 2016, as he claimed when requesting a different weekend. On his Facebook page, Lumus on Friday February 5, 2016, posted a photo of himself sitting at a table in a bar with Suk Kim and two other men in Breckenridge, Colorado. (This was the weekend in which on Sunday the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.)
As to the missed visitations, it is true that Janda did not produce the boy at Access Visitation Services on the three dates specified in Lumus’s motion. But in each instance she had provided notice that she would not do so, for what she considered to be good reasons to protect him. Janda’s e-mails stated that:
- Lumus had court-ordered conditions to meet and had not done so, had not supplied Baker with proof of ongoing therapy and taking medication. “At the end of the day I’m doing what is safest for (the boy).”
- Lumus was taking his son to dangerous places and stated he plans to take him to Suk Kim’s apartment on this visit, and Lumus had not taken the drug test she had requested two weeks earlier. “It is my obligation as (his) parent not to put him in dangerous situations or let him be put in one.”
- On one scheduled visitation, Janda said, the boy had told her that he did not want to go to Suk Kim’s apartment.
In the end Judge Lambeth found both parents in contempt of court, Janda for not allowing the visits per the phases set forth in the order, Lumus for nonpayment of medical expenses.
Lambeth again ordered the child not to have contact with Laurel Yurchick, as well as any others with a criminal background, prostitutes or known drug users.
Lumus was ordered to stay at least 250 feet away from Janda’s home or place of employment, not to stalk or harass her, not to use any device to track or follow her or the boy, and not to contact her except through Our Family Wizard (a website that provides parents with access to child custody calendars, visitation schedules, messaging and more). In addition he was ordered not to contact his son by text message, e-mail or social media.
The judge ended the proceeding by complementing Lumus.
“I understand Ms. Janda’s fears but I also want to tell Mr. Lumus I’ve seen you come a long way in two years. And I believe a lot of men in your shoes would have given up. And I appreciate the fact that you have continued to be involved in your child’s life, and I know it hasn’t been easy. I’m glad that you have continued to be sober, and I hope that your life is working a lot better.”
Why cut off communication?
Lumus has demonstrated over time a history of cutting off communication, apparently so that he can prevent calls for help.
In addition to the instances already mentioned in which Lumus confiscated telephones, Janda said that Lumus had routinely taken the youngest son’s phone during unsupervised visitations. This is of particular concern to Janda because she said he needs it to follow a safety plan devised by the Hope Alliance, where Janda and the boy went for counseling for survivors of domestic violence and children who have witnessed or been victims of abuse. The safety plan is for the boy to call 911 any time he is afraid, Janda said. Without access to his telephone he cannot do that.
Janda said that on one occasion the boy called her at 1:30am when he was staying at Lumus’s dad’s house. “I told him in he was afraid to call 911 and he did call. He didn’t want to be there.”
Janda said that even after Judge Lambeth ruled on November 20, 2015, that Lumus was not to take the boy’s phone, he tried to do so for that Thanksgiving weekend. “We had to take (the boy) to Jack for Thanksgiving break and before (our son) got in the car, Jack said (to the boy), ‘Give me your phone.’ We were in front of the police station. I immediately said, ‘Give him back the phone.’ … He ignored us so I told him that I will go up to that police station and tell them. So he gave back the phone.”
The final order that Lambeth issued September 16, 2016, prohibits Lumus from taking the child’s phone. Yet Janda said in an e-mail October 24, 2016, that Lumus continues to do so.
“Jack takes his phone at the beginning of every visit and periodically during the visits. He said he checks it to see what he has been doing.” She said that Lumus accesses the phone, which has a PIN and fingerprint lock, by looking at it when (the boy) has it opened.
Is final order a final solution?
In the best interest of Lumus’s 11-year-old son, who lives with his mother and stepfather, the critical question is whether Lumus actually has straightened out his life, has overcome a longtime addiction to drugs and alcohol, and will not take him to places or around people that are dangerous or would constitute a bad influence. Is Lumus equipped to provide the love and guidance that every child needs?
During the ongoing child-custody litigation, in March and June 2015, Lumus took two drug tests administered by Quest Diagnostics that detected no drug use. These tests were performed using hair samples, one involving hair from his underarm, the other with hair from his leg. (Lumus is bald so cannot provide hair from his scalp.)
Last month he took and passed another drug test, this one administered at Concentra Medical Center in Portland, Maine. The test was processed by Escreen, and it was also based on a hair specimen.
Are these drug tests credible?
That question was put to Barry Sample, PhD, director of Science and Technology for the Employer Solutions unit of Quest Diagnostics. Among his many professional achievements, Sample is a member of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Review Board and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Drug Testing Advisory Board.
Can a drug user avoid detection?
In a telephone interview Sample said, “There are a number of products marketed to beat the drug tests. … Some of them are effective, some are not effective.”
“Hair testing detects repetitive use—not all drug use,” he said, adding that results depend on many factors including the frequency of use, the drug taken, how much is ingested, and a person’s individual metabolic differences. Hair testing shows repetitive drug use as far back as 90 days (not a year, as stated by Lumus’s attorney in court proceedings).
Sample said the most comprehensive kind of drug testing would include a combination of both hair and urine samples, or both hair and oral fluid samples. “By combining two specimen types you have a potentially more comprehensive range of detection.”
The results for three drug tests given to Lumus and filed with court papers all involved only hair samples, as did another test administered just last month.
Despite Lumus taking and passing drug tests, the boy’s mother remains skeptical. In interviews with The Austin Bulldog, Janda said that during her marriage to Lumus he was sometimes required to take drug tests based on urine samples for his job and he would buy and use “fake urine” from an Austin head shop that sells drug-related paraphernalia.
In addition, the Internet is replete with advice and products that claim they can help prevent detection of drug use. (See, for example, http://alwaystestclean.com/pass-drug-test/, which markets products tailored to foil drug tests that use collected samples of urine, hair, saliva or blood.)
Janda also believes it’s likely that Lumus is not actually taking the medication that helps to counter the effects of his bipolar disorder and stabilize his behavior.
Janda said when Access Visitation Services owner Rhonda Hohmann showed her the bottle of pills containing Lumus’s medication, “I told her Jack would flush his meds down the toilet when he was with me. That’s not proof he took it.”
Janda e-mailed Hohmann December 10, 2014, stating, “When Jack was prescribed Depakote in 2010 he would fill his prescriptions and dump them in the trash. To make me think he took them. … Jack stopped taking his pills after a couple of weeks because he didn’t like how they made him feel. … Until you know for a fact that medication is in his blood, you don’t know for a fact he is taking it.”
The best interests of the child?
Given the limitations of the family court system and the fact that unsupervised visitation with his son has been authorized, only Jack Lumus knows for sure whether he is clean and sober and taking prescribed medication to cope with his bipolar disorder, and doing right by his son. The justice system has given him a chance. The rest is up to him.
What did Christa Janda want to achieve by going public with this? When that question was put to her, she teared up.
“Maybe someone will stand up and make it stop so no kids are put in danger anymore. It’s not right,” she said. “I’m doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m trying to get closure for me and my kids.”
“What I won’t be gaining is sleep at night, feeling safe, not going into court and have them retaliate against me and take my son.”
In photos of the father and son together on Lumus’s Facebook page, they look happy.
A skeptical Janda said, “There are pictures of me with him and I look happy. You only show people what you want them to see.”
How could Lumus to prove himself to Janda and ease her concerns about her son’s safety?
“He can start making choices on what’s best for (the boy).”
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