ELIOT, Maine — In what is still a “very active investigation” involving local, state and federal authorities, an Eliot mother is facing two felony charges after allegedly fleeing with her two young children to Canada in the midst of a chaotic divorce.
Sarah Teske, 39, is charged with two felony counts of criminal restraint by parent, after she allegedly left the country Oct. 31 with her two sons, ages 7 and 4. Teske’s alleged crimes occurred after a conflict-ridden, two-year divorce battle, according to court documents, which included a pattern of unfounded abuse allegations against her then-husband.
Teske and the children were located by law enforcement in Quebec, Canada, Sunday, Dec. 8, authorities confirmed. The children have since been reunited with their father, who has been granted full custody, and Teske remains detained in Canada awaiting extradition.
In his Hague Convention application filed with the State Department on Nov. 18, the children’s father wrote, “As I write this, my children have been missing for 19 days. Far from home, missing school, friends and routine. Their location and well-being is unknown. … This is a volatile situation. I nervously hope that the authorities are able to recover the children soon without a stand-off, harm to (Sarah) and the children, or another serious incident.”
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or Hague Abduction Convention, is a multilateral treaty that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.
According the court documents, on numerous occasions, Teske recanted her allegations of abuse against her then-husband and admitted she falsified them dating back to 2017.
“The defendant’s conduct is inexcusable, places the children at great risk of harm and is contrary to many court orders,” states the divorce approval signed by a Maine District Court judge on Nov. 14. “For more than 2 1/2 years, the defendant has purposefully made numerous false allegations of abuse against the plaintiff in order to gain leverage and control the plaintiff. The defendant’s false allegations have been made to the courts, administrative agencies in the state of Maine, the plaintiff’s employer, and the Eliot Police Department.”
Prior to her fleeing to Canada, Teske had been the principal owner of Tide Pools Learning Center, serving children age 18 months to 5 years, on Route 236 in Eliot. The business’s website and Facebook pages have since been taken down.
Per court documents, Teske withdrew $11,000 from her bank account before allegedly taking the children Oct. 31.
Matt Howell, an attorney who represents the children’s father, said law enforcement, including the FBI, were able to track Teske sufficiently over the last month, until they detained her Sunday.
“When we got this, we knew it was going to be a serious case and large scale,” said Eliot Police Chief Eliott Moya, who noted his department has been interacting with the family for the last two-plus years. “For us, it was figuring out what we had and then coordinating all of the efforts. It took local, state and federal officials to work to see this through to a positive outcome. It was something that we don’t deal with very often. Every officer in this department had a hand in this case, because it has been an ongoing thing.”
Moya did not offer additional comment, citing the investigation is ongoing and still “very active.” Eliot police are the agency bringing forth the two felony charges, he noted, and federal authorities could opt to pursue their own charges as well.
An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on the case.
Teske previously has been represented by Portland attorney Whitney Hayre. Hayre could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.