Advertisement
  1. News

After week in jail, Florida mom agrees to son's circumcision

Heather Hironimus, left, sits with her attorney Thomas Hunker as she appears before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen on Friday,  in Delray Beach. Hironimus was jailed after ignoring a state judge's order to appear in court, then fleeing with the her 4-year-old son to prevent him from being circumcised. She has been warring with the child's father, who wants the circumcision. [Associated Press]
Heather Hironimus, left, sits with her attorney Thomas Hunker as she appears before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen on Friday, in Delray Beach. Hironimus was jailed after ignoring a state judge's order to appear in court, then fleeing with the her 4-year-old son to prevent him from being circumcised. She has been warring with the child's father, who wants the circumcision. [Associated Press]
Published May 22, 2015

DELRAY BEACH — A Florida woman's yearslong battle against her child's father over the boy's circumcision ended Friday with her agreeing to the procedure in exchange for her release from jail.

In a remarkable turnaround after a week behind bars for contempt and an initial hearing in which she was ordered to remain jailed, court reconvened and a sobbing Heather Hironimus signed paperwork giving approval for the 4-year-old boy's surgery, recoiling in tears and clasping her shackled hands after it was done. The shift, though under duress, threatened the hero status given to Hironimus by a bubbling movement of anticircumcision advocates who have followed the case's every turn.

She remained jailed Friday afternoon, but her release was likely later in the day.

Attorneys for both Hironimus and the boy's father, Dennis Nebus, declined to comment, citing an ongoing gag order in the case.

Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, which advocates against circumcision, said Hironimus had been "bullied" into signing, calling it the "saddest commentary on the court."

"I don't know what's in his head," she said of Judge Jeffrey Gillen, who presided over the case. "I don't know how he can sleep at night."

Hironimus and Nebus had initially agreed to the circumcision in a parenting agreement filed in court, but the mother later changed her mind. Circuit and appellate judges sided with the father, but potential surgeons backed out after failing to get the mother's consent and becoming the target of protesters.

Hironimus went missing with the boy in February, ignoring warnings from Gillen to be in court and allow the circumcision to proceed. She remained missing until her arrest last week, staying in a domestic violence shelter. With her legal options dwindling, she filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of her son, looking for a solution outside state court.

But her attorney abruptly withdrew that case Wednesday, two days after its first hearing, when a judge expressed open skepticism of its merits.

Upon arriving in court Friday, chained at the wrists and ankles and wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit, Hironimus quietly invoked her Fifth Amendment rights when asked whether she had signed the consent agreement. Gillen said Hironimus would be jailed indefinitely unless she did.

Her mother, Mary Hironimus, fought back tears but said her daughter was right to fight for her son.

"Of course it's worth it," she said, "any mother would do anything for her child."

Hironimus still faces a criminal charge of interfering with child custody. Gillen approved a motion by Nebus' attorney, May Cain, to temporarily give the father sole decision-making over matters including his son's health and to travel out of state, if needed, to have the circumcision performed. Cain said her client had been receiving death threats and warnings his son would be kidnapped.

"I am fearful that the child might be abducted," Gillen said.

After Hironimus agreed to sign the form and court reconvened, Gillen offered advice to the parents: "You are both going to continue to be the parents to this young man. You're going to have to learn how to deal with that in an amicable, friendly, civil manner. You're going to have to always take into consideration what's in your child's best interest. To the extent that you may differ on things, you're going to have to talk them out. That's what parents do in a civilized society. You do not take the law into your own hands."

Though Chapin and other so-called "intactivists" remained dismayed by the developments, she said Gillen had inadvertently advanced the anti-circumcision cause.

"People who never gave it a thought before are appalled and repulsed," she said.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. social card for breaking news in crime, for web only
    The woman called a second man for help, who shot the man, according to authorities.
  2. The Stewart Detention Center is seen through the front gate, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Lumpkin, Ga. The rural town is about 140 miles southwest of Atlanta and next to the Georgia-Alabama state line. The town’s 1,172 residents are outnumbered by the roughly 1,650 male detainees that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said were being held in the detention center in late November. (AP Photo/David Goldman) [DAVID GOLDMAN  |  AP]
    The Associated Press sent journalists throughout the country to immigration court.
  3. Mike Bishop joins Pasco EDC staff. [Pasco EDC]
    News and notes on Pasco businesses
  4. Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
    News and notes on Hernando businesses
  5. Ed Turanchik is a lawyer and former Hillsborough County commissioner. [Times (2016)]
    Politico Ed Turanchik is warned for lobbying about the MacDill ferry after his status as a consultant ended.
  6. Jack Pearcy, left, and James Dailey, right, as they appeared when they each entered Florida's prison system in 1987. Both men were convicted of taking part in the murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio in Pinellas County. Pearcy got a life sentence. Dailey got the death penalty. Dailey's lawyers have argued that Pearcy is solely responsible for the crime. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    The case of James Dailey, facing a death sentence for the 1985 Pinellas County murder of a 14-year-old girl, is full of contradiction, ambiguity and doubt. Court records tell the terrible story.
  7. A new report to the Florida Legislature details the investigation that led to the forced resignations of six Moffitt Cancer Center employees in December, including president and CEO Dr. Alan List. [Moffitt Cancer Center]
    The money came from the “Thousand Talents Program” and went to personal accounts set up in China.
  8. Sydney Holton, left, and her friend Jordan Lewis yell for beads along the Gasparilla parade route on Saturday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A week and a half after the boulevard’s latest high-profile traffic death, pedestrians got the whole road to themselves.
  9. The crash happened near St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
  10. Search is on for suspect, as police continue crash investigation and seek information.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement