Heather Hironimus, the mother of a 4-year-old boy caught in the middle of a circumcision case, was arrested and booked into the Broward County Jail on Thursday night. She had been missing for several months, ever since a judge ordered her to bring her son to the father, Dennis Nebus, to be circumcised.
Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen of the 15th judicial district in Palm Beach County had ordered Hironimus to appear in court in March and to bring the child with her or face contempt-of-court charges. When Hironimus and her child remained in hiding, Gillen ordered a warrant for her arrest.
Hironimus and her son had vanished following a long battle with Nebus over whether the child should be circumcised. Prior to their separation, the couple had agreed that Nebus would pay for and schedule the child's circumcision. But over time, Hironimus changed her mind and has been arguing that there is no medical reason for her son to be circumcised and that the procedure could harm or even kill the boy. The practice is even more scrutinized now that the boy is no longer a newborn.
The case has caught the attention of anticircumcision activists who have rallied for Hironimus and picketed outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse whenever there's been a hearing. An internet campaign was launched in support of Hironimus' quest to keep the boy from being circumcised, and a fundraiser created by the Children's Health Advocates for Surgical Ethics was launched to help with her legal fees. That fundraiser has since closed.
Nebus, meanwhile, testified that three doctors who were supposed to perform the procedure on the boy had removed themselves from doing so after apparently receiving what he called "threatening letters" from some of the anticircumcision activists. Nebus has also claimed to have received death threats himself.
On Thursday night, Hironimus was arrested by Broward authorities, the Associated Press reports. No details on where she was hiding or how authorities found her have been released. Her name did not yet appear in inmate databases, and calls to jail officials went unanswered.
Gillen has put Hironimus and Nebus under a gag order, and the whereabouts of the child have not been disclosed.
In April, Hironimus filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming circumcising her son would violate the boy's constitutional rights. Gillen and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw are named in the suit.