Judge sides with Usher in child custody battle
ATLANTA (AP) — A judge in Atlanta dismissed an emergency request by R&B singer Usher’s ex-wife seeking temporary custody of their two children.
Tameka Foster Raymond requested the hearing Friday, a day after the former couple’s 5-year-old son got caught in a pool drain while in the care of the Grammy winner’s aunt. After a hearing in which both Usher and Raymond took the stand, Superior Court Judge John Goger dismissed her request for temporary primary custody and decision-making authority.
Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, Goger said he wasn’t certain anyone really could have done anything to prevent the accident. But he also advised Usher to keep his ex-wife well advised of his whereabouts and who’s taking care of the children.
After the judge issued his ruling, Usher approached his ex-wife and gave her a long hug.
Usher Raymond V fell to the bottom of the pool and became stuck in the drain on Monday, according to an Atlanta police report. A housekeeper tried unsuccessfully to free him. A contractor doing work at the home pulled the boy from the pool and performed CPR.
The boy was “conscious, alert and breathing” when emergency medical workers arrived, police said. The boy was still in the hospital Friday.
“They’re just assessing him,” Raymond told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing. “There is a lot we don’t know. I mean you can’t — it’s only been a few days so we’re very thankful that he’s obviously alive but we still have to observe him and make sure that everything is OK.”
Usher left the courthouse in downtown Atlanta without speaking to reporters.
The filing had said the boy “suffered a near-death accident” while left unsupervised at Usher’s home when the singer was out of town.
Contrary to what Raymond claimed, Usher’s aunt, Rena Oden, was poolside watching the children when the older child became stuck in the drain, and Usher was at a music studio one highway exit away, said the singer’s lawyer John Mayoue.
Rather than being grateful that her child had survived, Raymond used the episode to revisit the custody battle and gain publicity, Mayoue said.
The pool accident comes nearly a year after Raymond’s 11-year-old son, Kile Glover, Usher’s stepson, died from injuries he suffered when he was run over by a personal watercraft on Lake Lanier northeast of Atlanta.
Raymond, who is a hair and wardrobe stylist, was emotional during her testimony, at one point sobbing so hard that she had to step down from the witness stand to regain her composure.
“He doesn’t confer with me regarding anything,” Raymond said, explaining that she never knows where Usher is, where the children are and who’s taking care of them. Usher travels frequently and uses caregivers, including his aunt, who aren’t trained and qualified to care for young children, Raymond said.
Coger said he thought Raymond’s standards for a caregiver were unusually high and pointed out that many people leave their children with family members.
Raymond’s lawyer Angela Kinley also attacked Usher for not calling his ex-wife to alert her of the accident until about 45 minutes after it happened. Usher testified that he wanted to try to get information about how serious it was and his son’s injuries before calling her.
Usher and Tameka Raymond married in 2007 and divorced two years later. They went through a lengthy child custody battle, and Usher last year was awarded primary custody of the boys, who are about a year apart in age.
Associated Press video journalist Johnny Clark contributed to this report.