Judge rules against Pasco couple in custody battle

A Pasco couple will have to continue their long battle to regain custody of their two children after a Tri-City judge denied their chance for a new dependency trial.

Court Commissioner Joseph Schneider ruled against Boris and Olga Shved in a custody case that has been ongoing for years after Olga was accused but later acquitted of child abuse.

Schneider refused to overturn a previous decision placing their kids, now 8 and 10, in foster care. A Franklin County District Court ruling in favor of the Shveds would have cleared the way for them try to prove they are fit parents.

"We are upset, of course. We hope (Schneider) changes his mind," Boris, 34, said by phone Wednesday. "We are going to fight to the end. If we have to sell our house, we will. They are our children and we will not give up on them."

The Shveds lost custody of their children after Olga was accused of abuse in 2006 when Ella, then 4 months old, stopped breathing and doctors found fractures to her skull, arm, thigh and four ribs. She also had bleeding in her brain.

Olga, 31, was convicted of first-degree assault in 2009 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. But her conviction was overturned in February and Olga was cleared of any wrongdoing after two California doctors testified the baby was not abused.

A Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled there was insufficient evidence that Ella was abused, saying an epileptic seizure, a bone disease and the vacuum-assisted delivery during her birth could have contributed to her injuries.

And there were never any signs or allegations of abuse against their other child, Ryslan, said Jim Egan, a Kennewick attorney who represents Boris.

The Shveds' parental rights were restored shortly after the conviction was overturned.

However, state prosecutors and social workers still contend the Shveds are unfit parents who shouldn't have contact with their children. Assistant Attorney General Kevin Hartze has argued that Olga's acquittal is irrelevant to the dependency case.

Ella and Ryslan have been away from the Shveds for almost eight years and are living together with foster parents out of state.

Egan and Olga's attorney, Linda Lillevik of Seattle, contend the new medical evidence, misconduct between parties involved in the case and Olga's acquittal were grounds for a new dependency trial.

But Schneider disagreed, saying the medical experts were discovered too late, the alleged misconduct didn't affect the case and the Shveds did not challenge the original dependency ruling soon enough.

"(The children) have been integrated into another family during those years and have been under the care of the Department (of Social and Health Services)," Schneider wrote in his decision.

"The department has an obligation to the children to (ensure) that if reunification takes place, that it happens with the least amount of trauma or harm to the children," he wrote.

Egan told the Herald that the Shveds plan to appeal Schneider's decision to Franklin County Superior Court or a higher court.

"I will die working this case. I am not going to stop," he said. "Olga still cries every day. The children's rooms are still set up."

-- Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson