EARLIER: Boy saved from fire at center of custody dispute

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By Lisa King

The little boy saved by his nanny from a house fire on March 23 is now the subject of a custody battle between his mother and the man who is his legal guardian.


Family Court Judge John David Myles heard testimony in the case Tuesday and said he would rule in 10 days if 5-year-old Aden would remain with his custodial guardian, J.B. Hawes, or be returned to the custody of his mother, Dazurae Blankenship.

It was in Hawes’ house on Golden Rod Court that Aden escaped a fire in his bedroom when his nanny, Alyson Myatt, rushed barefoot through the flames to carry him to safety.

The story has gained national significance because of Myatt’s heroics, but those details seemed lost in the bitter, finger-pointing battle between Hawes and Blankenship, who for two and a half hours accused each other of being unfit to care for the boy.

Blankenship, a recovering drug addict who gave Hawes temporary custody of 5-year-old Aden when he was 3 days old, says that her son told her that Hawes had sexually abused him.

Hawes denied those allegations and in turn told the court that not only was he not guilty, but that the child's mother was spreading lies about him to regain custody of her son.

Hawes' attorney, Carl Devine of Lexington, called two witnesses on Hawes’ behalf.

Kentucky State Police Detective Mitch Harris, whose area of expertise is sexual abuse cases, told the court that he had interviewed Aden, and it was his opinion that the child was not a victim of sexual abuse and that he had closed the investigation.

He added that since then he had received another allegation of the same type against Hawes involving Aden and was now investigating that.

Devine also called Joe Tucker to the stand, a social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, who testified that he had investigated the allegations of sexual abuse in October 2009.

Tucker said he had made an unannounced visit to the Hawes’ household and found both Hawes and the child at home.

"He [the child] did not want to speak to me without him [Hawes] present," he said. "I found him to be healthy and clean and dressed appropriately, and he appeared to be a normal little boy."

Tucker added that the environment was "in very good condition," and that his investigation also included the boy's day-care teachers and grandmother.

Blankenship and her attorney, Mark Wooldridge, brought up the fact that Hawes had DUIs in 2000 and 2005 and also served time on drug and burglary charges as a teenager in Texas.

Blankenship had given temporary custody to Hawes because she was incarcerated when she gave birth to Aden in 2004, she said, and she thought he, as her good friend, could take good care of Aden.

She regained custody of the little boy after getting out of the Women's Correctional Institute but was ordered to relinquish him to Hawes again in 2006 by Fayette County Judge Rebecca Overstreet.

Blankenship also has an 8-month-old daughter, and Devine pointed out that she had ingested cocaine while pregnant with that girl.

"I had a relapse," Blankenship said.

She said she is currently "clean" and has a job in Lexington making $8 an hour working for an agency that teaches job skills to women with criminal backgrounds.

She has just moved into her own apartment last week after leaving rehabilitation services at a substance abuse treatment center in Lexington called Chrysalis House.

When Hawes' attorney brought up the fact that she had just struck out on her own, Blankenship pointed out that Hawes and Aden were now living on Baker Street in an apartment since the house had burned.

When asked who would be taking care of Aden when he was working now that Myatt had been burned rescuing him from the fire, Hawes said his brother was coming down from Texas to help him.

Hawes also objected to Blankenship calling him a monster and telling Aden that he was not his father.

"I am not his biological father, but I am his father," he said.

Blankenship admitted that she did tell Aden that Hawes was not his father.

"I tell my son the truth," she said.

There was also disagreement in the courtroom about who was named as Aden’s father on the child's birth certificate.

After the hearing, Blankenship told a reporter that she was optimistic the judge would rule in her favor.

"I'm hopeful, and I also hope that we get through this intact and with some integrity," she said.

Said Hawes: "I have nothing to hide. I've done nothing but care about that family. But after a lambasting like this...then I think about Aden's future, I just don't understand people like that, how they can be so malicious."

Aden remains in the custody of Hawes pending Myles’ ruling.