Bedard apprehended, faces child abduction charge

Updated: December 26, 2006, 5:59 PM ET
Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Canadian Olympic gold medalist Myriam Bedard to temporarily remain in the custody of U.S. marshals on a charge that she violated a child custody order by bringing her 12-year-old daughter to the United States.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar scheduled a hearing for Friday in Baltimore to address whether the U.S. government has the authority to detain the former biathlon champion pending extradition to Canada.

Kevin McCants, an attorney representing Bedard, said he was working on an arrangement that would enable his client to return voluntarily to Quebec on Friday to face the charge. McCants said the holidays have made it difficult to negotiate, but he has been in touch with Canadian prosecutors.

"We're hoping to have a deal in place in the next day or so," McCants said.

Bedard, 37, was arrested Friday night in Maryland after U.S. marshals found her and her daughter, Maude, at a Columbia hotel. Bedard, of Quebec, Canada, has been in the custody of U.S. marshals since the arrest. Her daughter is back in the custody of Bedard's ex-husband, Jean Paquet.

Bedard faces up to 10 years in prison on the child abduction charge, but her attorneys contend she didn't break the law.

"She's confident that when these proceedings are over that ... she will be vindicated. She's done nothing wrong," McCants said.

Bedard appeared at her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. McCants said Bedard was disappointed she had to remain in custody, but he said she told him she was OK.

"She was fine with it," McCants said. "I think I was more disappointed than anyone."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Jackson argued that Bedard should be detained because she was a flight risk.

Quebec City police obtained an arrest warrant against Bedard on Dec. 8 after Paquet alleged she had taken their daughter away from Quebec City without his permission in violation of a child custody order.

An arrest warrant for Bedard was first issued from Quebec City, Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police contacted the U.S. Marshals Service and the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force on Dec. 15 to help find Bedard.

When marshals determined she was in the United States, a provisional arrest warrant was obtained on Wednesday.

John Pepper Jr., an attorney who also is representing Bedard, said Paquet has been unclear about when he wanted to see his daughter.

"We're still waiting for him to come forth and make us aware of which periods he would like," Pepper said.

He also said Paquet was kept informed of where the girl was and that Bedard "feels absolutely devastated by the fact that Mr. Paquet would act in such a manner."

Bedard won two gold medals in the biathlon competition at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. She won a bronze medal in that same event in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

Bedard has been traveling in the United States with her current common-law spouse, Nima Mazhari, who was at the courthouse Tuesday.

Mazhari has had his own share of legal problems, being charged in 2005 with theft and possession of about 20 stolen paintings worth $100,000.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press