|For Immediate Release
Case # 09WF2543
October 17, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
MOTHER CHARGED FOR ABDUCTING CHILD TO ZAMBIA AND KEEPING CHILD AWAY FROM FATHER FOR FOUR YEARS
SANTA ANA – A father and son have been reunited after nearly four years apart after son was taken to Zambia. The child’s mother, Silvia Chilombo Mulenga, 34, is charged with one felony count of child abduction. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. She is currently a fugitive believed to be residing in Zambia.
Mulenga, a native of Zambia, and John Cotton Sr. were married in 2005 and divorced in 2008. The couple shared joint custody of their 4-year-old son.
In the fall of 2009, Mulenga lost her job, was evicted from her home, and her visa had expired. When she told the court that she intended to return to Zambia, a court order was issued prohibiting her from taking the child. In December 2009, Mulenga is accused of abducting her son and traveling with him to Zambia despite the court order.
On Dec. 4, 2009, John Cotton Sr. reported the abduction to the Cypress Police Department (CPD) who began investigating this case before referring it to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) who continued the investigation. On Dec. 17, 2009, the OCDA filed one felony count of child abduction against Mulenga. A family court awarded full custody to the father.
In July 2013, CPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned that John Cotton Jr. and the boy’s maternal grandmother had traveled to the Netherlands to visit the boy’s uncle who is a professional soccer player. Dutch authorities were notified and picked up the child from the home. Mulenga is accused of falsely alleging to Dutch Child Protective Services that the father was abusive and that their son should not be allowed to be returned to him. Dutch Child Protective Services later determined these allegations to be untrue.
On Oct. 16, 2013, after more than three months of court proceedings in the Netherlands, the Court agreed to enforce the California custody order. John Cotton Sr. and his son flew out from the Netherlands and arrived back to California last night, Oct. 16, 2013.
The case was investigated by CPD, FBI, OCDA, United States Department of Justice, and United States Department of State.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Bacin of the Child Abduction Unit is prosecuting this case.