Mother charged in abduction of child from West Valley school

Published: Wednesday, June 20 2012 9:45 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — Criminal charges have been filed against a woman who police say abducted her daughter from an elementary school in March.

Venus Athena Barker, 38, was charged Wednesday in West Valley Justice Court with custodial interference and criminal trespass on school property, both class B misdemeanors.

An Amber Alert was issued on March 9 after Aliyah Kay Crowder was taken from Silver Hills Elementary School, 5770 W. 5100 South, while she was waiting in the cafeteria line. Police and school officials said Barker grabbed her biological daughter and forced her to accompany her, despite efforts from school employees to prevent her from leaving.

According to police, Barker did not have legal custody of the 10-year-old girl.

The girl was returned to her father early the next morning after police were able to contact Barker by phone and reached an agreement. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said he spent three hours on the phone with Barker and listened to her explanations regarding the custody of her daughter.

"Venus, I think, believed that she did have some standing in this and that is the dispute between (her) and the other biological parent," Winder said at the time.

West Valley police were especially concerned for the child's welfare because the March incident was not the first time the girl had been taken without permission. In October 2011, the girl was reunited after her mother allegedly abducted and kept her away from other family members for eight months.

An arraignment is scheduled for July 17.

Brian West

Twitter: misterwestt

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