Contempt charge dropped against mother

January 15, 2014

A contempt order issued against a mother who declined to attend numerous custody hearings with her ex-boyfriend last year was lifted after she agreed to joint custody with the toddler’s father.

The bitter custody dispute ended Friday when Ashley Hart, whose family is from Peters Township, and Anthony Denezza, 33, of Greensburg, met in person to discuss the situation before coming to an agreement over the 17-month-old boy.

Washington County Judge Gary Gilman, who signed the contempt order that mandated Hart turn over Armani Denezza to his father by Monday night, lifted the order hours before it was to go into effect after the two agreed to the terms.

Denezza’s attorney, Karen Hassinger, said the agreement calls for 50-50 parental rights with various other conditions.

“Obviously, both parties talked it out and realized that this was the best solution for (their) child,” Hassinger said.

Hart’s attorney, Richard Ducote, said Tuesday that he was not involved in the negotiations and had not seen the agreement.

According to court documents, the agreement waives a $500 fine levied by the court against Hart, provided she abides by the terms of the order. However, she still must pay $3,806 in legal fees to Denezza’s attorney.

The agreement also requires Hart’s family to request that simple assault, harassment and criminal mischief charges be withdrawn against Denezza in connection with a May 15 incident in which he was accused of assaulting her father at the family’s Peters Township home.

Hart went into hiding around that time to avoid the child’s father after he initiated the custody proceedings that same month. Ducote previously said his client was never told about the initial proceedings and went into hiding over fears of being arrested.

Hart missed as many as six custody hearings over the past three months, including the most recent contempt hearing Jan. 3. Gilman held her in contempt Jan. 6 and ordered the child be turned over to his father.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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