MISSOULA — A Missoula woman accused of withholding her 5-year-old daughter from the girl’s dying father received a three-year deferred sentence Tuesday in Missoula County District Court.
Viola Renee Prazma took the couple’s daughter to Billings in 2012 after learning that her ex-husband, Stanley Prazma, had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and had five years to live. She stayed away — apparently traveling between Billings and North Dakota — for nearly 16 months, keeping the girl away from her father the entire time.
The move bewildered Stanley and his new wife, Mary, who told prosecutors that they had a “friendly” relationship with the woman and celebrated birthdays and holidays with her.
“There was absolutely no reason for it,” Stanley said. “From the time she was 8 months old until the time that her mom took her, she lived with us anywhere from four to six days a week.”
Despite his desperate attempts to locate her, Stanley had no idea where his ex-wife had taken their daughter.
But finally the Adams County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota was able to locate Viola in Hettinger.
The defendant was then extradited from the state in September and appeared in Missoula County Justice Court to face a felony parenting interference charge in October. Acting Justice of the Peace Mike Frellick imposed $10,000 bail and remanded the woman to Missoula County jail.
The girl was reunited with her father, stepmother and older brother.
“It means a lot to me because they gave me two to five years to live, and my kids are my world,” Stanley said in October. “Not having her here broke my heart.”
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Stanley Prazma was “unusually forgiving” of his ex-wife in agreeing to the terms of the plea agreement. Viola Prazma said there was nothing she could do to take back what she had done.
Prosecutors noted that they were satisfied with her admission of guilt before District Judge Karen Townsend, who accepted the plea agreement that avoids jail time for the 51-year-old mother.
“I hope that you have the ability to resume some life with your child,” Townsend said.