Usher Raymond will retain primary custody of sons Usher V, 5, and Naviyd, 4. The singer, 34, appeared in court on Friday, Aug. 9, after his ex-wife Tameka Foster, 42, requested an emergency child custody hearing in light of a pool incident that nearly resulted in the death of their elder son.
(When Aunt Rena Oden and a housekeeper were unable to free Usher V from a pool drain, house contractors Eugene Stachurski and Ben Crews rescued the young boy.)
After a bitter custody battle in 2012, Raymond won primary custody of his boys; Foster has limited custodial rights. Friday's hearing lasted more than two and a half hours. When Foster took the stand, she began by giving an update on Usher V's health. "My son is alive. He's alive. I'd say he's doing well," the celebrity stylist told the courtroom. "I wouldn't say he's at 70 percent, but he's well, because he's alive."
Foster claimed that her firstborn "had to be revived and brought back to life." She added, "My son basically had died on the scene, from what I was told by the doctor." Raymond's lawyer asked to dismiss her allegations as hearsay, which a judge sustained. "It's not hearsay because I'm in the hospital with my son," Foster argued.
"The problem is, I don't live with [Raymond] — anything I say, he'll stand up and say it's hearsay," Foster complained.
Foster later said that Raymond waited about an hour to inform her that their son had been hospitalized; she argued that the Voice mentor downplayed the severity of the situation. "I thought my son's arm was maybe broken, maybe playing or something, because I knew he wouldn't call me if it were a minor abrasion or a cut," she said, noting that they typically correspond via email. "But he called and said that my son had been cut and he was on his way to the children's hospital."
When Foster arrived on the scene, she said Usher V was "hysterical" and "screaming." She added that "doctors were restraining him on the table." Foster also revealed that Raymond had not informed her that their children were not in the care of pre-approved nannies, but instead were being looked after by Oden, Raymond's aunt.
Foster said Oden is incapable of properly caring for their children due to a medical disability related to a back injury. "Naviyd and Usher are very rambunctious. They're very active. They're very much like twins, they're one year a part. . . There was an incapacity and an incapability to handle the situation," she said, referring to the Aug. 5 pool incident.
Raymond's ex-wife alleged that the singer has not visited his son in the hospital since Monday. "At about 2 in the morning, his heart rate dropped to a dangerous low. It got to like in the 50s. I sent him an email." Foster said the R&B singer never replied and never showed up. "I left this morning for the first time at 9:45," she added.
Oden's 911 call was then played for the courtroom, which sent Foster into hysterics. "Do you believe that Aunt Rena has the control over the children that's necessary to ensure their safety?" Foster's attorney asked. She replied, "I don't believe she has any control over the kids. I don't know if this is considered hearsay, but Naviyd jumped into the pool. He can barely swim. That could have been a double tragedy."
Foster did say that Oden is a "good person" and a "nice family member" but said she doesn't trust her to care for Usher V or Naviyd.
Oden was next to take the stand. She admitted that she is not licensed to administer CPR, but her mother, a registered nurse, taught her how. She was repeatedly asked if she left Naviyd alone by the pool while trying to get help for Usher V, and each time, Oden replied, "I don't recall."
When asked if she has any first-aid training, Oden replied, "Uh, I know how to take care of children." Though she has no formal education, "I have a 20-year-old son that I raised," she explained. "I was a single parent."
Foster was then questioned by Raymond's legal team, who read a list of inaccuracies in her affidavit. Foster acknowledged that she was, at the time, misinformed. In regard to their previous custody hearing, Foster said, "I never thought it was a fair ruling, no."
Raymond took the stand next, fielding questions from Foster's attorney. The musician — who had been at a nearby recording studio at the time of the incident — explained why he did not immediately inform his ex-wife about what transpired that afternoon. "I knew that there had been an accident in the pool but I didn't have clarity of what had taken place," he said. "[Usher V] didn't' want to go to the hospital, he was very irate. I did my best to calm him down and help him understand what had taken place."
After speaking with medical professionals, Raymond said, "I told her that as of right now, Usher's fine. That there had been an incident in the pool and he's breathing, he's fine, he's a little hysterical. . . She informed me that she was having a root canal at the time. I said you should definitely get here. . . She arrived shortly after that."
Raymond revealed that the pool at his current residence in Georgia has not been formally inspected. "The children, when anywhere, not just the pool, have an understanding that when their names are called, they stop, look and listen," he said, adding that the boys know "not to run around the pool: and to "never jump in the pool unless an adult is there."
After much debate, a judge ruled in favor of Raymond. "What happened here was an awful accident, and I don't know based on the evidence I've heard, had any single person been at the poolside, that one person could have done better than Ms. Oden," he said. He also told Foster that her "standards for caregivers are very high."
"Most people who cared for us or our kids probably didn't' have all the qualifications that you required," the judge told Foster. "I'm denying the motion. I would say, Mr. Raymond, in the future you would be well-advised to keep your former spouse informed about your whereabouts and who is taking care of the kids. That will be a feature perhaps in this case as it moves forward or the companion case as it moves forward."
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