Government & Politics

Kansas mother who went to Oregon standoff arrested in assault on officer

Odalis Sharp was taken into custody Friday after allegedly hitting a law enforcement officer after child welfare officials had come to take away some of her children.
Odalis Sharp was taken into custody Friday after allegedly hitting a law enforcement officer after child welfare officials had come to take away some of her children. Courtesy of Shawnee County

A Kansas woman who took her children to sing this winter during an armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge was arrested last week in connection with an assault on a law enforcement officer, jail officials said.

Odalis Sharp of Auburn was booked into the Shawnee County jail at 7:48 p.m. Friday in connection with battery of an officer, a misdemeanor, and interfering with a law enforcement officer, a felony, jail officials said.

She was arrested at her home and released Saturday on $3,000 bond.

In an interview Tuesday, Sharp said state child welfare workers have removed seven of her children, ages 6 through 17, from the home.

“I am a mother lioness who’s been robbed of my children,” said Sharp, who made headlines in January when she took seven of her 10 children to Oregon to perform for the armed militants who had taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

No charges apparently had been filed as of Tuesday morning. A spokesman for the Shawnee County prosecutor could not be reached for comment.

Records show Sharp attended a hearing in Shawnee County District Court last week on an eviction case filed last year by the owner of the property she rents. The court had ordered Sharp to vacate the premises last September.

Sharp appealed the ruling, and the court ordered her to post a $1,500 cash bond each month until the appeal was decided. Court records indicate the payments were made from October through April.

At last week’s hearing, a trial date in the case was set for May 15.

Sharp told The Star on Tuesday that the arrest occurred after she’d gone back to court Friday and attempted to file paperwork accusing her landlord of breach of contract for not taking care of the property. She said the judge wouldn’t accept it. When she returned to Auburn with her 6-year-old son, she said, there were three sheriff’s cars and two workers from the Kansas Department for Children and Families waiting for her.

“They wanted me to go with them,” Sharp said. “They wouldn’t let me go to the house. One grabbed my arm and legs and dragged me out of the car. I kicked the woman officer.”

She said six of her other children had been taken by child welfare workers while she was away. Three older children live elsewhere.

Sharp said the sheriff’s officers arrested her and took her son.

“They’re all in DCF custody now, as far as I know,” she said in an hourlong phone call during which she cried, prayed and sang religious songs. “They’re evil. They steal kids. This is the devil against my family.”

She said children’s department workers had paid her at least two visits since returning from Oregon but that she told them she didn’t have time to talk. She said someone — possibly the children themselves — had apparently called the child abuse and neglect hotline recently, and that’s what led to Friday’s incident.

“They’re making false charges,” she said. “They won’t tell me anything. They have stolen my children’s hearts, and they have turned them against me. It’s a conspiracy.”

After Sharp, 46, took seven of her children to Oregon this winter, her oldest daughter, Victoria, 18, who had recently moved to Montana, joined the Sharp Family Singers on Jan. 25.

The next day, Victoria Sharp was riding with Nevada rancher LaVoy Finicum and three other militants, including standoff leader Ammon Bundy, when Finicum ran a roadblock and was shot and killed by Oregon state police.

The teen has since become a rising star in the “patriot” movement, accusing the government of overstepping its bounds and attending court hearings in Oregon to support those arrested in the standoff.

Odalis Sharp and seven of the children performed in the Kansas Capitol in Topeka in March, where Sharp was supporting Raymond and Amelia Schwab, whose children had been placed under supervision of the Kansas Department for Children and Families. In between songs, Sharp told onlookers that authorities had tried to murder her daughter during the Oregon standoff.

The pastor of the Auburn, Kan, church the Sharp family once attended speaks of Victoria, now a champion of the patriot and militia movements.

Sharp also has a history in court with child welfare officials in Kansas.

In 2011, the Kansas Department for Children and Families removed her oldest child — then 15 — from the home and placed him in foster care after substantiating reports that Sharp had abused and neglected him. Sharp filed a petition for judicial review in 2012, asking the district court to overturn the finding. When the court did not, she filed an appeal. The appellate court, in an opinion filed in October, sided with the lower courts.

Sharp said in testimony at a 2014 legislative committee hearing that the child welfare agency had stolen her son because of false abuse allegations.

Sharp told The Star on Tuesday that the family had been performing in several states since the standoff and planned to travel around the country the rest of the year. But she said the older children, including Victoria, “have left the path I put them on.”

“The best way to describe Victoria is that she’s like her horse, Spirit,” Sharp said. “Young and pretty, very spirited. She’s got all that pasture, but she wants to be out of her bounds. And when she gets out of bounds, she leads the others with her, and she’s hurting my family. It’s a shame.”

Sharp said she has a hearing Wednesday in juvenile court.

“Jesus is on trial tomorrow,” she said. “These children are not my children. They’re God’s children. He has anointed them. And you don’t mess with that.”

Judy L. Thomas: 816-234-4334, @judylthomas

  Comments