She was emotional, crying openly on the witness stand. He was quiet and reserved, almost stoic as he replied to questions. And at the end of the two-hour court hearing, entertainer Usher and his ex-wife exchanged a quick hug.
A Fulton County Superior Court judge allowed Usher to keep custody of the couple’s two young sons. Judge John Goger dismissed Tameka Foster Raymond’s request for emergency custody late Friday afternoon.
“Your standards for a caregiver are rather high,” Goger told Raymond before dismissing the request. “I think most of the people in this room have been cared for by a grandmother or an aunt or a neighbor, and I don’t think there’s anything remarkable about that.”
Usher has had full custody of the couple’s sons, ages 4 and 5, for nearly a year. But earlier this week, Raymond was granted an emergency custody hearing after the older child nearly drowned in a pool. Monday afternoon, 5-year-old Usher Raymond V got stuck in a pool drain at his father’s rented Atlanta home, according to police.
At the time of the near-drowning, both the younger Usher and his brother were in the care of their great-aunt Rena Oden, who tried unsuccessfully to pull the boy to safety.
The boy was rescued and revived by a contractor who administered CPR. He was alert while being transported to the hospital, where he remained Friday, Usher and Raymond told the court. The boy is expected to make a full recovery and should be released this weekend from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.
Usher’s attorney contended the incident was an accident, and that those at the home helped save the child’s life. The judge agreed.
“This was an accident that could happen to anyone with adult supervision,” Usher’s attorney, John Mayoue, told the court. “He wants to be at his son’s side at the hospital. He doesn’t want to be here today.”
Usher’s aunt, Oden, was caring for the two boys Monday afternoon while Usher was at work, about five minutes away, Mayoue said. Oden’s emotional 911 call was played for the courtroom, and Tameka Raymond cried as she listened to it and during her testimony.
On the stand, Raymond told the court she was not kept informed of who was taking care of her children, despite calls and emails to Usher that were not returned.
“I don’t know where my children are. I don’t know who my children are with,” she said. “He doesn’t confer to me regarding anything.”
Tameka Raymond wept openly as she told the court she had not left the hospital since Monday afternoon. At one point, she was asked to step down from the stand in order to calm down.
When it was his turn to take the stand, Usher told the court he left and went to his studio less than hour before getting a phone call about the incident involving his son. Furthermore, a hired pool service had cleaned and checked the pool earlier Monday, he testified.
“I had no reason to suspect something was wrong with the pool,” Usher said. “I had never been made aware that there was an issue with the pool.”
Usher said after he was told of the incident, he immediately drove home and got into the ambulance with his oldest son, who by then was hysterical and scared.
“He just wanted me to put a Band-Aid on it,” Usher said.
Usher told the court he kept his ex-wife informed in weekly emails. But in his ruling, Goger said a lack of communication between two divorced parents did not amount to danger for either child.
Both Usher and Raymond are expected to be back in court later this month for a hearing on future custody of the boys.
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