LOS ANGELES — The maternal grandfather of three boys who were allegedly taken to Mexico by their mother says she was protecting them from her abusive husband, the son of U.S. Rep. Gary Miller.
Jude Lopez told The Associated Press on Friday that the congressman's son was a sexual deviant who molested the boys. He accused Brian Miller of forcing the three children to lie naked on top of one another in a bed.
The allegations – along with a bitter custody dispute over the boys – led Jennifer Dejongh to flee with them nearly four years ago, Lopez said.
Those claims were called baseless by Don Haslam, a lawyer for the congressman and his son.
"These are the same arguments that (Dejongh) made during the course of the trial, and unfortunately from her point of view, nobody else who was involved in the case substantiated her allegations," Haslam said.
Dejongh has pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of child custody deprivation after she was arrested Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico.
She had joint legal custody of the boys – a 12-year-old and 10-year-old twins now – with the California congressman and his wife at the time of the disappearance. Dejongh was supposed to drop them off at Miller's house in November 2007 as part of a court order, but she never showed up.
In 2008, she wrote a letter claiming she was protecting her children from an abusive father. She has since remarried.
The boys' maternal grandfather said the congressman and his wife were protecting their son for the sake of the Republican's political career. That's why they stepped in to take care of the children, Lopez said.
"Their son would have to be a registered sex offender – they can't have that," said Lopez.
Gary Miller represents California's 42nd Congressional District, including the communities of Diamond Bar, Brea, Chino and Chino Hills.
Lopez also said that Brian Miller had twice gone into treatment for sexual addiction. Haslam confirmed the two stints in a treatment facility, saying it was for "emotional issues."
The children are with their grandparents in Diamond Bar, Haslam said. The congressman said in a statement that he and his wife were "extremely relieved that after more than 3 1/2 years our grandchildren have been found unharmed and returned safely to the United States."
An American man also was taken into custody when Dejongh was arrested, Mexican police said in a statement.
Bail was set for $500,000. Dejongh was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 24.
A public defender or lawyer has yet to be appointed for her.