Kevin Esterly

Miami-Dade Police

Mom of teen taken to Mexico by 45-year-old sues man, school

May 09, 2018 - 11:38 am
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ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP, KYW Newsradio) — The mother of a Pennsylvania 16-year-old girl who police say was taken out of school and to Mexico by a 45-year-old man is suing him and the school, claiming she suffered financial, psychological and emotional harm.

Federal agents found 45-year-old Kevin Esterly and 16-year-old Amy Yu in Playa del Carmen in March. They were taken to Miami. He faces charges including interfering with the custody of a child, which is a felony. Esterly is not charged with kidnapping, because authorities believe Yu left school of her own volition and went with him willingly. 

Mui Luu's federal lawsuit, filed Monday, seeks unspecified punitive damages. It alleges Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School in Bethlehem violated Luu's constitutional rights to her daughter's safety by allowing Esterly to be listed as Yu's stepfather on an emergency form.

According to a police affidavit, Esterly signed Amy out of Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School 10 times between November and February without her mother’s permission.

Luu says she also found text messages that suggested Esterly was romantically involved with her daughter. Age 16, Yu is at the legal age of consent in Pennsylvania.

Esterly’s wife told investigators he withdrew about $4,000 from her bank account on the day he disappeared. 

According to neighbor Kathleen Smith and several other neighbors, for months prior to Yu leaving the United States with Esterly, loud arguments and tension could be heard coming from the girl's home.

“We’ve just been hearing a lot of fighting. The cops had been here a lot,” Smith said. “Amy was pretty upset a bunch of the time, and you could tell something was going on. Something was going to happen sooner or later, and it wasn’t going to be good.”

Messages seeking comment from the school and Esterly's lawyer weren't immediately returned.