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Craig v. Bishop

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

October 23, 2019



          Hillary L. Nixon Law Office of Hillary L. Nixon, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Shari Bishop

          David Hudson Larry A. Roach, Inc. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: David Michael Craig

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR JUDGE.

         The defendant, Shari Bishop, appeals from the trial court judgment granting a protective order in favor of the plaintiff, David Michael Craig. For the following reasons, we affirm.


         This matter is a companion case to Jerry Israel Cummings v. Shari Bishop, 19-168 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/23/19), ___ So.3d ___, which was rendered by this court this same day.

         The parties, David Michael Craig and Shari Bishop, were married in Calcasieu Parish on July 4, 2015. The parties are the parents of one child, D.M.C., [1] who was born on November 7, 2011, during Shari's prior marriage to Jerry Israel Cummings.[2]On September 13, 2017, David filed a petition for divorce, in which he sought an ex parte custody order, child support, and various temporary restraining orders (TROs). Sole provisional custody of D.M.C. was granted to David by an ex parte custody order, rendered on September 17, 2017, as well as TROs enjoining Shari from removing or attempting to remove D.M.C. from Calcasieu Parish or from hiding or secreting D.M.C. in any way and enjoining her from discussing the matter with D.M.C., disparaging David, or attempting to alienate D.M.C. from David in any way.

         On September 28, 2017, Shari reconvened, seeking a divorce from David. Following an October 30, 2017 hearing, the trial court rendered a stipulated judgment on November 21, 2017, whereby Shari was awarded supervised visitation with D.M.C., to be supervised at all times by Ronnie and Ronda Bishop, Shari's parents. On January 5, 2018, Shari filed an application for an emergency ex parte custody order based on "several worrisome statements" she alleges were made by D.M.C. "about certain things that he has seen, heard, and experienced in the presence of [David], and/or his parents that involve killing, death, abuse, and neglect[.] On January 10, 2018, David filed a first supplemental and amending petition, adding Jerry as an additional necessary party to the suit.

         On February 22, 2018, David filed a rule for contempt, alleging that instead of returning D.M.C. to him as scheduled on December 24, 2017, Shari and Mr. Bishop fled with him to Texas on December 23, 2017, in contravention of the prior issued TRO. D.M.C. was eventually taken into law enforcement custody on December 25, 2017, and then returned to David's custody.

         Following a multi-day trial on the merits on the custody and contempt issues, the trial court rendered written reasons for judgment on July 13, 2018, finding that it was in the best interest of D.M.C. that David be awarded sole custody. The trial court further held that Shari failed to prove her claims:

[T]hat Jerry, David and/or any other person (i.e. Danny Meyers, demons, devil worshippers, juggalos, etc.) have abused [D.M.C.] or Jerry's three children who testified at trial. The only thing that could be considered abuse is the actions that Shari has taken with these children by filling their heads with bizarre and untrue claims and fears and rewarding them when they repeat them to others.

         The trial court ordered that all visitation between Shari and D.M.C. take place at the Whistle Stop, a supervised visitation location. The trial court further found Shari in contempt of court as a result of her actions in taking D.M.C. to Texas and her failure to timely pay child support. It also found Mr. Bishop in contempt of court based on his intentional violation of his supervision duties relative to Shari's supervised visitation with D.M.C. The trial court sentenced Shari to ninety days in the parish jail and Mr. Bishop to thirty days in the parish jail, with the sentences suspended as long as both parties complied with all future court orders. A written judgment was rendered by the trial court on July 13, 2018. An appeal by Shari from this judgment is the subject of a separate appeal before this court.[3] At the time that the record was lodged in the present appeal, the divorce proceedings between David and Shari were still pending.

         On August 23, 2018, David filed a petition seeking protection from abuse, which is the subject matter of this appeal. In his petition, filed on his and D.M.C.'s behalf, David alleged that Shari had abused him and D.M.C. by stalking them, threatening them with bodily harm, threatening their lives, and attempting to have them killed. He alleged that the following abuse by Shari on July 23, 2018:

[A]ttempt to have David Craig murdered by a third party. On this date, [E.F.C.] (daughter of Shari Bishop and Jerry Cummings) saw Shari at the L'Auberge Casino with a man she did not know. [E.F.C.] was introduced to this man by Shari as a friend, and [E.F.C.] was told by Shari and by this man that Shari was going to have this man and his friends kill David and Jerry as revenge for prior incidents of abuse, including incidents of ritual satanic abuse, which Shari has repeatedly alleged were committed by David and Jerry. [E.F.C.] has repeatedly denied such abuse ever occurred, and she denied it again on that date. She was told that the man and his friends were ready and willing to kill David and Jerry. A criminal investigation is ongoing regarding this solicitation of murder by Shari against both David and Jerry.
David further alleged past incidents of abuse by Shari against him, as follows:
On multiple occasions in recent months, following the custody trial between David Craig and Shari Bishop, Shari has attempted to have David murdered by multiple third parties. [E.F.C.] has spoken on multiple occasions with Shari and with a former boyfriend of Shari named Joshua Martin, and they have both spoken to [E.F.C.] about their plans to murder David or have him murdered by others. They have also spoken to [E.F.C.] about plans to murder Jerry Cummings ([E.F.C.]'s father) or have him murdered by others. [E.F.C.] has been told that David and Jerry will be killed as revenge for prior incidents of abuse, including incidents of ritual satanic abuse, which Shari has repeatedly alleged were committed by David and Jerry. [E.F.C.] has repeatedly denied such abuse ever occurred.
It is believed that Shari has previously attempted to seriously harm, and possibly kill, David arsenic poisoning. David previously became seriously ill during the marriage with symptoms indicative of arsenic poisoning, and since the final separation of the parties he has tested positive for arsenic poisoning and has been receiving medical treatment. A criminal investigation into this poisoning is ongoing and Shari is the only known person of interest. This was testified to by multiple witnesses during the recent custody trial between the parties. It is also believed that Shari may have previously attempted to seriously harm, and possibly kill, one of her children with Jerry. That child, Israel Cummings, also became seriously ill following an incident with Shari and he later also tested positive for arsenic poisoning. This was testified to by multiple witnesses during the recent custody trial between the parties.
Over the past several years, while David and Shari were together, Shari spoke repeatedly about her desire to murder Jerry. She also asked David to kill Jerry for her at times. She has a long history of making false, and often completely unbelievable, allegations of abuse and criminal behavior against others. Shari has a long history of unstable and unpredictable behavior, and she has exhibited extremely poor judgment on numerous occasions. During the recent custody trial, she was held in contempt of court for violations of court orders, including violations when she took the child [D.M.C.] into hiding in Texas during the 2017 Christmas holiday in violation of several court orders. As a result, she was given a suspended 90 day jail sentence.

         A separate petition was filed by Jerry against Shari on the same date, which requested a protective order based on the same primary factual scenario alleged herein.

         On August 23, 2018, the trial court granted an ex parte TRO in favor of David. The TRO ordered Shari not to abuse, harass, assault, stalk, follow, track, monitor, or threaten David or D.M.C.; not to contact David by any means, except for court-ordered visitation; not to go within 100 yards of David or D.M.C., except for court-ordered visitation; to stay away from David's place of employment and D.M.C. school; not to damage any of their belongings or property or shut off their utilities, phone service, or mail delivery, or interfere with their living conditions; and not to interfere with the physical custody of D.M.C. A hearing was scheduled in this matter for September 7, 2018. A second TRO was issued by the trial court on September 7, 2018, effective through November 2, 2018, with a hearing set for October 31, 2018.

         This matter was consolidated for trial purposes with Jerry's request for a protective order. On October 31, 2018, the trial court heard testimony from E.F.C., [4]David, Jerry, Shari, and Mrs. Bishop.

         The primary factual scenario supporting both petitions was recounted by E.F.C., based on a meeting between her and Shari on July 23, 2018, at the L'auberge Casino. E.F.C. testified that she met Shari and her grandmother, Mrs. Bishop, at L'auberge, despite the fact that she knew she needed her father's permission to see them. She stated that Shari had texted her that she and Mrs. Bishop were going to the casino and asked if she wanted to meet them there. She said that although she was staying with a friend, she was picked up by Mrs. Bishop and taken to the casino. She initially stated that both she and her friend were picked up by Mrs. Bishop, but then later claimed that her friend did not go with her. She further claimed that after visiting with Shari and Mrs. Bishop, she planned to meet up with her friend, who was spending the night at the casino with her mother.

         E.F.C. testified that after she and Mrs. Bishop arrived at the casino, they ate and then walked around. She stated that they met Shari when they walked in front of a bar. She stated that Shari walked up to them, hugged her, and then pulled her into the bar. According to E.F.C., Shari was drunk. E.F.C. stated that Shari introduced her to a man, whom she said was a friend, and they sat down at a table. She stated that Mrs. Bishop did not accompany them into the bar.

         E.F.C. testified that the man first asked her if she, her siblings, and D.M.C. were being abused by their fathers and then stated that he was in a biker gang and that he could have Jerry and David hurt or killed if they were being abused. E.F.C. stated that Shari was there for part of this conversation, but that she walked away after advising her to tell the truth about the abuse. E.F.C. testified that after Shari left, she told the man that none of the allegations were true. She stated that the man then asked her if Shari was telling him the truth or if she was crazy. E.F.C. said that she replied that Shari was not telling the truth. E.F.C. testified that at this point Mrs. Bishop walked up and told the man, "Well, I know that something's happening[.]" E.F.C. stated that she replied, "No, nothing's happening. It's not like that[.]" E.F.C. said that after these comments, she left the bar with Mrs. Bishop and then later met up with her friend at the casino. She stated that she did not see Shari again that night.

         E.F.C. testified that her conversation with the man lasted from fifteen to thirty minutes and that she felt threatened by the conversation. She stated that she thought Shari had said that she had known the man a long time. She further stated that both Shari and the man were drunk. E.F.C. testified that she believed Shari was capable of having Jerry and David harmed and that she definitely believed that Shari asked this man to harm them because of her allegations of abuse.

         E.F.C. testified that she told her father about this conversation, when he picked her up from her friend's home the next day. However, she admitted that she told him that she and Shari had met up accidently because she knew he would be mad at her.

         E.F.C. further testified that Shari asked her to recant her testimony from the child custody hearing in which Jerry was granted custody of her and her siblings. She stated that she was pressured by Shari, Joshua Martin, Shari's former boyfriend, and his daughter to contact Shari's attorney. She said that they threatened to stop communicating with her unless she called the attorney. E.F.C. testified that when she spoke to the attorney, she was told that she would have to admit that she lied about Shari giving her alcohol when she was with her. She stated that she did not recall telling the attorney that she had embellished a little on the stand or that she was worried about leaving her younger brother.

         E.F.C. further recounted conversations she had the previous summer with Mr. Martin, who lived in Florida. She stated that he had been told by Shari that she and D.M.C. were being abused by their fathers and that both he and Shari had said that he wanted to protect her by getting rid of Jerry. E.F.C. testified that near the end of his relationship with Shari, Mr. Martin asked her if Shari's allegations were true and then said that he did not want to be with Shari if she was lying. E.F.C. stated that Mr. Martin told her that he would kill Jerry and David if the allegations were true. E.F.C. stated that she believed that Mr. Martin's desire to kill them was based both on Shari's request that he do so and his own feelings about the alleged abuse.

         E.F.C. said that Mr. Martin claimed that either he or his friends would kill Jerry and David. She stated that he told her that he had friends who lived behind Jerry's home in Ragley, Louisiana. She claimed that he also told her that he had stalked both Jerry and David at their homes and that he was armed with a gun while outside of Jerry's home. E.F.C. testified that she felt threatened by this conversation and that she told Mr. Martin that Shari's allegations were not true.

         E.F.C. testified that Shari kept advising her to tell Mr. Martin the truth about the abuse. Although she never heard Mr. Martin and Shari, together, say that they intended to kill Jerry and David, she stated that he admitted that Shari asked him to do so. She said that Shari had, in the past, said that she wanted to kill Jerry and David and that she was feeding Mr. Martin lies about them. At some point, E.F.C. testified that she became scared and told Jerry about her conversations with Mr. Martin. She stated that she took Mr. Martin's threats seriously the last time she spoke to him.

         Jerry testified that he filed his petition for the protective order based on E.F.C.'s meeting with Shari at L'auberge Casino. He stated that she claimed that she had accidently bumped into Shari and Mrs. Bishop while she was there with her friend. She told him that Shari pulled her aside and introduced her to a man, who asked her if she and D.M.C. were being abused. He said that the man told ...

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