NEW YORK (CBS) A Brooklyn mother doesn't want her 9-year-old son to visit his father, a serial rapist who's in an Arizona prison. Apparently, for that decision, the mom, Sukhwant Herb, now finds herself behind bars, too, according to the New York Daily News.
The 29-year-old mother says she's serving 50 days in solitary confinement on Rikers Island because she ignored a court order mandating twice-a-year prison visits for her son Seon. She agreed to the visitation deal with representatives of the boy's father in September, her lawyer said.
Then she changed her mind.
"I don't want my son in that environment, seeing the prisoners in jumpers, and the slamming of gates, the noise. My son is 9, and it's horrible, horrific," Herb told the Daily News.
Herb says she doesn't want her son visiting her in jail, either. "Not in this environment," she said.
"I'm locked here in a room, locked in 23 hours a day, with a TV. "I turn [the TV] on just to hear another voice. The first time they took me outside for some fresh air was after 13 days in jail and that was for only one hour."
Brooklyn Family Court Judge Robin Sheares sent Herb to Rikers on June 10 after having her arrested on a warrant. The judge declined to comment.
David Bookstayer, spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said Herb was jailed because she missed five court appearances. She had ample opportunity to try and modify the visitation order and is a flight risk, he told the newspaper. The circumstances of Herb's incarceration "are highly unusual," Bookstaver acknowledged, "but warranted."
Bookstaver said Herb "was given numerous opportunities to answer simple questions to avoid incarceration, but was uncooperative, could not produce proof of where she'd been, or where her son was attending school."
Herb's version of the hearing is quite different. "I kept telling the judge where I was living, that I had a house in Ohio and was planning to move there with my son. But [the judge] kept screaming at me, 'I don't believe you, I don't care. I don't believe you.'"
Herb, who told the Daily News she worked with a financial services firm dealing with foreclosures, is planning a move to Cambridge, Ohio, with her son and a 6-month-old daughter she has with her fiance, Dwayne Wiathe of Jamaica, Queens. The boy is living with Waithe while Herb is in jail.
Waithe said he was willing to put up his home, his trucking business and his bank account for Herb's bail, but was shot down. "Even killers get bail," Waithe said. "This is unbelievable."
Herb conceded she made many mistakes in her dealings with the judge. "It was a poor decision not to hire a lawyer earlier and fight all this in court," she said. "Still, this is wrong."
She recently hired a lawyer, Dale Frederick.
"It is not in the best interest of any child to incarcerate his mother for refusing to allow that child to go to a penitentiary, particularly where the father is a convicted serial rapist," Frederick said.
It's unclear what will happen after Herb serves her sentence.
The father of Herb's son, Seon Jonas, 31, was convicted in 2003 of raping three women in Phoenix and is serving 27 years in an Arizona state prison.