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Lathrop mayors ex-husband seeks full custody of three kids
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LATHROP – Duston Tuhy, the former husband of Lathrop mayor Kristy Sayles, took steps on Thursday to obtain full physical custody of their three children – two boys ages 8 and 10, and a girl aged 13 – until the court proceedings involving their stepfather, Thomas Xavier Sayles, is resolved.

Tuhy said he went and picked up the court papers that he needed from the San Joaquin County Family Court Services in Stockton Thursday morning before attending the arraignment of Thomas Sayles in the afternoon. He is expected to file those papers today and hopefully bring his three children to his home in Stockton later today, he said.

Appearing in Manteca Superior Court Thursday, a handcuffed Thomas Sayles who entered the courtroom with seven others in uniform orange jail jumpsuits pleaded not guilty to the child abuse charges. Judge Ron Northrup also lowered his bail from $50,000 to $25,000 and reduced the charges from felony child abuse to a misdemeanor. The case will be continued on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 1:30 p.m. for a pre-trial conference in Manteca Superior Court.

Thomas Sayles, who was still in custody Thursday night, was arrested and booked in San Joaquin County Jail Tuesday evening on suspicion of child abuse for allegedly hitting his 8-year-old stepson who sustained a black eye in one eye and scratches in the other eye. The incident reportedly happened Monday night while the mayor was presiding over the city council meeting, according to police reports as well as in statements released by Kristy Sayles to the news media.

The 8-year-old is one of three children – two boys and one girl – from the marriage of Kristy Sayles and Tuhy which ended in divorce in December of 2003. The other two children are ages 10, the older boy, and 13, the girl. Tuhy said he wants to have temporary full custody of his kids because he is concerned about their safety and welfare. He said the children are “scared to be with Tom.” He added that he is concerned about Kristy Sayles being a political figure in the community and not having enough time with the kids because “she has her meetings and she’s never home.”

A telephone call Thursday evening to Kristy Sayles seeking comment was answered by a recording which stated that her “mailbox is full and cannot take messages.” However, in a telephone interview with Tuhy, he said that Kristy Sayles called him at home earlier and that she was “upset” about what he is trying to do with the children. Tuhy added that she was upset because she only found out about it when a reporter called her seeking comment. However, Tuhy said he is determined to pursue his full custody of his children until the court proceeding involving Thomas Sayles is resolved. Tuhy said he currently shares legal and physical custody of the children with Kristy Sayles and that he has the kids at his home every other weekend from Friday to Sunday.

Tuhy said he was laid off in 2004 from his job as a warehouse specialist in Tracy and has had a number of health issues since but has been “out looking for a job.” His wife is a nurse but is currently not working and that they are living on government assistance, he said. They have one child. Tuhy said having his three children at home would not be a problem for them, especially his wife.
“She loves them and they love her,” Tuhy said.

Thomas Sayles told judge he could not afford a lawyer
When Thomas Sayles entered the courtroom, he took a seat several chairs away from the other suspects in the seats reserved for the jury, and positioned himself in such a way that those in the audience could see only his left profile.

In response to the judge’s question, Thomas Sayles said he could not afford to hire his own lawyer because he is self-employed in the construction business but is not currently working because of the economy. The judge explained that due to budget crisis, he could not refer a public defender for him – the Public Defender’s Office in Manteca has been closed. In place of a public defender, Russell Humphey from the Lawyer Referral Service which contracts with the county took over the job of representing Thomas Sayles during the rest of the proceedings.

After a brief conference with Thomas Sayles, Humprey asked the judge to release his client on his own recognizance saying he is not a threat to the community, he does not have any criminal history of felony or misdemeanor convictions, and that he is agreeable to stay away from the victim.

“He has a business here and he will abide by the conditions of the release,” Humphrey pleaded to the judge.

However, the judge denied the request after District Attorney Elton Grau pointed to prior domestic violence incidents and complaints involving Thomas Sayles.

According to a press release issued by Kristy Sayles on Wednesday, she and Thomas Sayles have been separated since March. She also confirmed that she was not home when the incident transpired.

The press release read: “Mayor Sayles was not in the home at the time of the incident. She came home from the Lathrop City Council meeting, discovered the abuse had occurred and immediately notified Lathrop police. Tom Sayles was arrested later that evening and booked into San Joaquin County Jail.”

Tuhy said that he has talked to his two sons about the incident and that the older son “saw the whole thing.” Their sister was at Bible school at that time.  Tuhy said this is how his sons described what happened.

He said it started when the 8-year-old was trying to do his home work – the children attend Ripon Christian School – but was having a hard time. He threw his books on the floor and went outside to play with his older brother. When Thomas Sayles yelled at the boy and ordered him to come inside, the youngster refused to obey. Thomas Sayles then cursed at his stepson and the kid cursed back.

Once the boys were inside the house, Tuhy said Thomas Sayles hit the 8-year-old three times with a backhanded slap resulting in the black eye and scratches. He also allegedly hit both of the children with the bottom of a wooden spoon. The scared children then tried to run upstairs but their stepfather caught up with them and grabbed them by their back collars. Thomas Sayles then threw the 8-year-old on the couch so strongly that the couch nearly tipped over and then sat on the child. While sitting on the child, he texted his wife. Tuhy said he did not know what message he sent to his wife.

Tuhy said that in addition to his three children, Kristy Sayles has two other children, with one of them a foster child who is pregnant with what will be the mayor’s first grandchild. She announced the good news at a recent city council meeting.

The mayor’s press release also stated that when they were separated in March, Kristy Sayles “immediately filed for an emergency restraining order. The five-day emergency restraining order was converted to a temporary restraining order with a length of six weeks. Mayor Sayles went to court before the order expired and asked that it be made permanent but the Court only granted a 90-day extension.”