Drug check sends boy in custody battle again to dad

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — One week after a toddler’s failed drug test caused a judge to award a Charlotte mother with temporary custody, the child’s father filed an emergency custody motion, claiming the mother’s drug test was “false.”

Roman Kent spent nearly one week with his mother before a judge ordered the mother to return the child to his father. That exchange happened Thursday in Cornelius.

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Jacque Kent lost custody of her son in April after Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Sean Smith sentenced Kent to 60 days in jail on criminal contempt charges. Kent ignored court orders, mandating she allow Joshua Graham to visit his son. Kent admitted to knowingly ignoring the visitation order and spent 11 days in the county jail.

Kent, though, maintains she did so to “protect” her son from his father, who she contends continues battling alcohol and drug addiction.

Graham’s attorney, Steve DeCillis, filed an emergency custody motion on July 21, asking Judge Paige McThenia to remove the three-year-old from Kent’s home and award Graham sole temporary custody. The motion contained allegations that Kent is unfit, had exaggerated her son’s “special needs,” continued making unfounded allegations of Graham’s drug use, and claiming the July 7 hair follicle test Kent had performed on her son was “false.”

Kent had her son tested using a new hair follicle drug test called ‘ChildGuard,’ a test used to test whether a child has been exposed to drugs, according to the United States Drug Testing Laboratories website. The site claims the test is the “only drug test designed to detect passive exposure to drugs,” and that the test is different from a traditional hair follicle test because it can tell the difference “between both native drugs and drug metabolites.”

“Drug metabolites are produced in the body only if drugs have been ingested. Children in drug exposed environments are most often not drug users themselves, so drug metabolites are typically absent when a child is being tested for drug exposure. Typical hair tests with other labs will only report a positive exposure result if drug metabolites are detected, even when the native drug is in the child’s hair specimen. ChildGuard reports a positive result if either native drugs or drug metabolites are detected, giving much better insight about the child’s environment. ChildGuard can provide evidence of substance use in a child’s environment for the past 3 months, and can be performed on donors of any age,” according to the ChildGuard site.

The drug test invoice Kent provided to Queen City News shows her son was tested using a five-panel “exposure” hair follicle test during the July 7 screen.

Kent and her attorney, Anastasia Cowan, contend the July 15 drug test Graham had performed on the child was a typical hair follicle test, which the ChildGuard site claims would not pick up evidence that the child was exposed to drug smoke, contact with skin oil from a drug user, physical contact with a drug, or ingestion of a drug.

Graham and DeCillis did not explain what they believe is false about the child’s positive drug test or what evidence they planned to present to prove it. McThenia signed the order on July 21, granting Graham sole custody until a hearing is held on July 27 in Uptown.

Kent surrendered her son to his father under the watch of Cornelius police officers around 12:30 pm on July 21. A hearing is set in the case for July 27 at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. Testimony regarding the drug tests is expected and Judge McThenia could make a decision on permanent custody in that hearing.

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