Elaine Clermont insisted her daughter stay in court to watch after she was convicted on charges related to the snatching of a 6-year-old boy off the street last year when she tried to prove a point about school security.
Her daughter, 9-year-old Siobahn Clermont, sobbed loudly.
“It’s OK,” mom reassured daughter.
Then, as she was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom, she yelled to Siobahn, “I love you. It’s a good thing.”
Her husband, Chris, shouted to the court before leaving: “You people disgust me.”
The dramatic scene came after a jury found Clermont guilty of felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and false imprisonment, a gross misdemeanor.
Clermont was one of two women accused of abducting 6-year-old Rashaad Davis in September 2008 after the student had wandered away from Mackey Elementary School. Authorities said Clermont and Laurinda Drake, who earlier this year was acquitted of similar charges, took the first-grader in a stunt to highlight lax school security.
Clermont called a television news outlet before contacting police and school officials. She waited an hour to call the child’s parents.
The pair refused to return the boy to Mackey, but surrendered him at the Clark County School District’s headquarters about 90 minutes after taking him. The boy was unharmed.
Both Drake and Clermont had children who attended Mackey at the time of the incident. Clermont had a reputation as a gadfly who was often critical of school officials. Drake was described as an unassuming parent who volunteered at the school.
During closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors described Clermont as a self-proclaimed “destructive force.” Her plan: To destroy the principal and administration at the school over what she considered unacceptable security.
Drake, who picked the boy up and took him to Clermont’s home, also cried as the verdict was read Friday.
Before she was handcuffed by county marshals, Clermont, wearing blue jeans and a lime green jacket, seemed defiant, insisting that each juror be polled as to whether they agreed with the guilty verdict.
She faces up to six years in prison on the felony charge, up to a year in custody on the misdemeanor charge.
Afterward, defense attorney Mace Yampolsky said he will file a motion to dismiss the verdict because he believes there was not enough evidence presented at the trial to convict his client.
“I’m very disappointed in the verdict. I don’t believe there was any evidence of specific intent to kidnap,” he said.
Yampolsky added the only silver lining was that Clermont wasn’t convicted of the first-degree kidnapping charge brought against her, which carried a potential life sentence.
Yampolsky said he was “dumbfounded” by the different verdicts the two women received.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Luzaich explained it this way: “Elaine Clermont had the motive and the political agenda that Laurinda Drake did not.”
Still, prosecutors remained disappointed by the jury’s decision to acquit Drake.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Roy Nelson, who prosecuted both women, said, “I can’t imagine my child be taken by two adults and held for an hour and half and they are not going to be punished whatsoever.”
But both were pleased with getting one conviction.
“Ms. Clermont always wanted her day in court and we were happy to give it to her,” Nelson said.
Luzaich added, “The citizens of Clark County have spoken and they said it is not OK to take someone else’s child no matter what the purpose.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 7.
Clermont had been free on her own recognizance prior to trial. District Judge Doug Herndon, after the verdict, set her bond at $10,000. Yampolsky expected his client to be able to quickly post bail.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.View the slide show