Exclusive: Christopher Savoie Talks About Japan Ordeal
Isaac and Rebecca
Amy and Christopher Savoie
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In a NewsChannel 5 Investigates exclusive, Christopher Savoie spoke out about the ordeal that landed him in a Japanese jail.
The Williamson County father was back home after a failed effort to reclaim the son and daughter who were abducted from him.
That drama began in Franklin, Tenn., and played out half a world away in Fukuoka, Japan.
Monday, Savoie sat down with NewsChannel 5's chief investigative reporter Phil Williams.
"I'm glad to be home," Savoie told Williams. "I'm very glad to be home."
While he's happy to be home, "I'm not happy with the hypocrisy. I'm not happy with the treatment that I received over there. I'm not happy that we seem to have no ability in this great country of ours to be able to get our own children back."
Savoie said the ordeal of more than two weeks in a Japanese jail was bad enough, but coming home without his children -- now-9-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca -- was excruciating.
"There are no words for it, you know. There just aren't any words for it."
His ex-wife, Noriko, had abducted the children to Japan in August, so Tennessee courts gave Savoie full custody. Japan doesn't honor foreign custody agreements, so Savoie took matters into his own hands.
The Tennessee man made international news when he picked up his kids as they walked to school in Japan with their mother.
"It wasn't a violent act?" Williams asked.
"Oh, no," Savoie answered. "Hugging your kids and putting them in a car, I hardly think that is a violent act."
"You didn't hit your ex-wife or push her?"
"Absolutely not," Savoie answered.
Finally reunited with the children he thought he'd lost forever, Savoie raced to the nearby U.S. Consulate.
"Did the U.S. Consulate know that you were coming?" Williams asked.
"They knew, yeah, they knew," the Franklin father replied. "They knew we were on our way. We called them ahead of time, yes."
Savoie's ex-wife had alerted local police, who were waiting outside the consulate.
With Rebecca in his arms and Isaac trailing behind, Savoie said he tried to race past a police barricade to get the children to U.S. soil.
Savoie declined to comment on his exact intentions, saying he did not want to do anything to jeopardize his continuing legal efforts to regain custody of his children. U.S. Consulate officials in Fukuoka have said he wanted to get their U.S. passports reissued.
"I did run with my daughter in my arms to the consulate door because there was a whole riot gear of police running after me with shields and batons," he added.
"With riot gear?" Williams wanted to know.
"Oh yeah, oh yeah."
"This really is like a scene from a movie," Williams noted.
"It felt like a movie actually," Savoie said. "It was very unreal for me."
At the consulate, Savoie said, one consular officer actually reached for his daughter and tried to let them in. For some unknown reason, Savoie said the gates never opened.
Japanese police arrested Savoie, and for 17 days authorities held him in a jail and repeatedly interrogated him while they decided whether or not to indict him on kidnapping charges.
"Everything that you're not supposed to do to a defendant, especially pre-indictment, they did and a whole lot more," Savoie said.
"And you're arguing these are my kids, I've got the right to my kids," Williams asked.
"Absolutely, and they didn't disagree with me on that. They just said I'm not allowed to see them."
Then, suddenly last week, prosecutors let Savoie go free -- with the stipulation that he leave the country and his kids.
"Basically, I'm not allowed to see them. I'm not even allowed to call them. I'm not even allowed to send them birthday presents," Savoie said.
While Japanese authorities said he can pursue custody of his children through Japanese courts, Savoie knows the odds are against him.
"Do you hope that Isaac and Rebecca look back upon this and say that their Dad tried?" Williams asked.
"I certainly hope so," Savoie said.
"They're going to find out who their Dad is, what he's all about and that he loves them. If loving my kids so much that I really want to be with them is a crime, then I'm guilty. I'm guilty of loving my kids."
Savoie said he went to Japan, thinking he had the law on his side. He showed NewsChannel 5 an official Japanese document that listed him as having joint custody of the children, but in the end, he said Japanese authorities didn't seem to care.