DELRAY BEACH, Florida – A Florida mother has gone into hiding to protect her son from a circumcision sought by the 4-year-old’s father, and now a judge has ordered her arrest.
Heather Hironimus of West Boynton Beach, Florida, is reportedly at a domestic-violence shelter, trying to stop the child’s father, Dennis Nebus, of Boca Raton, from having his son’s foreskin removed.
“The child is scared to death of the procedure and doesn’t want it,” said attorney Thomas Hunker, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“There have been no safeguards put in place to protect the child’s psychological and emotional condition with regards to this surgery.”
During a court hearing Tuesday in Delray Beach, attorneys for Nebus requested the crisis shelter’s name and location, so the mother could be served with a court order for Nebus to pick up his son.
But Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen did not order the disclosure of the shelter’s name. He also refused requests from Hironimus’ lawyers to consider a mental-health exam of the boy and appoint an independent guardian to speak for the child in court.
The arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement to take Hironimus into custody, for failing to appear before the court Tuesday.
“She doesn’t believe she should be incarcerated for protecting her child,” Hunker told the paper.
Last Friday, Judge Gillen found the mom in contempt of court for not adhering to a 2012 parenting plan allowing the father to arrange the circumcision. The pair have never been married.
Nebus testified Friday he can’t find his son, so the judge gave the mom until 2 p.m. Tuesday to show up in court.
“I was hoping the mother was going to be here,” said Nebus’ attorney, May L. Cain.
“I was, too, obviously,” Gillen replied.
The Sun-Sentinel notes the judge called it “reprehensible” last week for the mother to abscond with the boy.
“I will allow her to avoid incarceration or get out of jail if she signs the consent to the procedure,” Gillen said Friday.
Neither of the boy’s parents is Jewish, but the father testified last year he thinks circumcision is “just the normal thing to do.” Circumcision of sons is mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Genesis as part of God’s covenant with Abraham.
Nebus pushed for the procedure in 2013 after noticing his son was urinating on his leg. He claims the child has a condition called phimosis, which prevents retraction of the foreskin, but the mother has said there is no such diagnosis.
In an emergency motion last week, Hunker wrote the boy “is aware of what is happening and is terrified by the procedure. He is also angry that the procedure is being forced upon him.”
“This is not a situation where [the child] is a newborn; he is old enough to remember the procedure and what his body looked like before,” Hunker wrote. “Removal of part of the most private part of his body could emotionally scar [the child] for the rest of his life.”
Outside the county courthouse in Delray Beach Tuesday, more than a dozen protesters held signs reading “His body his rights” and “circumcision is a sex crime.”
“It’s outrageous that this could actually be happening,” Jennifer Cote of Pembroke Pines, Florida, told the Sun-Sentinel. “We think this is a choice [Hironimus’ son] should make for himself.”
A website has been set up by anti-circumcision activists on behalf of the boy.
The site noted Wednesday that legal options to protect the boy from a court-ordered circumcision “have dwindled, but we are still holding out hope.”