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BT Daughter Safe, Custody Battle Begins Anew

The daughter of an acclaimed electronic music producer is safe, and her mother remains jailed after authorities in California arrested the woman earlier this week on a child abduction warrant obtained in Maryland, even though the charges have been dismissed.Ashley Duffy is no longer wanted by police, but her arrest Tuesday and subsequent jailing, police and prosecutors in Montgomery County, Md., confirmed to ABC News, was made based on a felony warrant that officials now say should never have been issued.

The 3-year-old girl, Kaia, may be safe, but a California court will have to resolve the ongoing custody dispute between her mother and acclaimed musician father Brian Transeau that led to Duffy’s arrest.

“The charges have been dropped, the warrant has been squashed,” Montgomery County State Attorney’s Office spokesman Seth Zucker confirmed to ABC News. “It’s a family law issue now for California.”

Judges in Montgomery County and Los Angeles County held a joint hearing earlier this week to discuss the validity of the original order granted in a Maryland family court that gave Transeau custody of Kaia.

That order was needed for the criminal court to issue an arrest warrant for Duffy. In the joint hearing, however, the judges ruled that the custody battle should play out in California, where a previous shared arrangement had existed.

“When the [Maryland] custody order was dismissed, it eliminated the state’s ability to move forward on a criminal basis,” Zucker said.

Karen Durrett, Ashley Duffy’s mother, told ABC News that Transeau had not been living in Maryland long enough to establish the residency status required to gain legal custody.

Duffy remained jailed at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, Calif., Friday morning, according to inmate information posted on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Web site.

Durrett said that the judge’s order in Maryland to dismiss the charges against her daughter had not yet been communicated to the California authorities holding her. Durrett said Transeau currently has the little girl and that he and Duffy will alternate 48-hour visits with her until a California family court hearing next week.

Anja Reinke, Duffy’s attorney in California, told ABC News that she would not comment on the case until Duffy was released.

Transeau, whose movie scores include “Monster” and who has collaborated with artists ranging from Britney Spears to David Bowie, declined to comment on this week’s developments.

Transeau granted a lengthy interview to ABC News last week in which he said Duffy abducted his daughter from a Maryland hotel room following an incident in which the child called her father on her mother’s cell phone and said Duffy had struck her and that her mother’s behavior had frightened her.

Transeau said that he had allowed Duffy to spend an overnight at a hotel in Silver Springs, Md., with their daughter, nicknamed “Kiki.” It was the last time Transeau had custody of the child until Duffy was arrested earlier this week in California.

Transeau also alleged in the interview that Duffy had been violent with him before. Police had been called to their house when they lived together in California, authorities confirmed to ABC News, but no charges were ever filed involving either of them. Transeau did say, however, that Duffy had never hit their child.

While the two had a shared custody arrangement in California, they were never married and had no formal custody arrangement in place in Maryland when Duffy allegedly took off with the child, Transeau said. A family court judge in Maryland granted custody after two weeks of legal work by Transeau and, according to police, arrest warrants were obtained Jan. 5.

After leaving Maryland Dec. 19, Duffy and Kaia were tracked to Brooklyn and were reportedly last seen in New York Dec. 26. Transeau said he has not heard from Duffy or his daughter and her cell phone went straight to voice mail.

Kaia has lived exclusively with her father in Maryland since moving to the East Coast in the late spring, Transeau said last week.

The child’s disappearance triggered rumors and online speculation in the electronic music community. Some fans offered best wishes to the musician for the girl’s safe return, while others criticized him and raised questions about his fathering ability.

Transeau, a 36-year-old native of the Washington, D.C., area, has released five studio albums and written computer music-production software. His music is considered groundbreaking in the trance genre and first became a sensation in Europe.

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