‘Legal Kidnapping:’ American Idol star, partner plead for return of children after Manatee County officials remove them

Manatee County Department of Children and Families released a statement.
Syesha Mercado and family.
Syesha Mercado and family.(GoFundMe)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 12:19 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - “American Idol” star Syesha Mercado and her partner, Tyron Deneer, held a news conference this week to announce plans to take legal action against Manatee County authorities who removed her two children, charging that her son was extremely malnourished.

Mercado and Deneer say that this is not the case at all and that they are being unfairly targeted by Manatee County officials. Mercado says that she took her 18-month-old son, Amen’Ra, to the hospital for nutritional supplements as she weaned him from breastfeeding. Following the removal of her son from the home, The “Idol” contestant and Suncoast resident posted video of a traffic stop to her account in which her 10-day-old daughter was also removed from her care.

“Our son has since been placed with a white foster family, without interviewing qualified relatives or friends of our family for placement while they investigate. We are given limited information.” Mercado said in a post.

She states that she was also accused of refusing a B12 shot for the child. She says that is false.

ABC7 has reached out to the Manatee County Department of Children and Families for comment and the released the following statement:

Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.) mandates that any person, including, but not limited to, law enforcement, education professionals, and healthcare professionals, who have experience in identifying signs of abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child, and who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, shall immediately report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Abuse Hotline of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Children are removed from caregivers when present danger for neglect or abuse is detected by highly-trained Child Protective Investigators. The Department of Children and Families’ number one priority is the safety of the child.

Our goal is always to reunify families as quickly as possible when all safety concerns are addressed. However, reunification is only possible when parties to a case work collaboratively towards this goal.

The Department’s actions are always to ensure the well-being of children. Any additional information would be confidential at this time, per Chapter 39.202, Florida Statutes.

Mercado has hired attorneys Derrick McBurrows and Louis Baptiste and is pleading for her children to be returned to her, thanks to a GoFundMe page that raised over $400,000 in donations.

A statement from the couple’s legal counsel reads, “Two disproportionately forceful child removals from a loving home have caused unimaginable trauma to Syesha and family. Syesha and Tyron are prepared to fight the discrimination and oppression inflicted on them by the legal system alongside their lawyers.”

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