Sergio Celis' sister spoke on behalf of her brother Friday evening, saying he had never talked directly with Child Protective Services until last week.
Elena Lukasiewicz gave a statement during a candlelight vigil and walk for Sergio Celis' daughter, Isabel, who was reported missing from her home four weeks ago today.
Earlier this week, the Tucson Police Department confirmed that CPS went to the Celis home in December, although a police spokesman said he did not know the circumstances of the visit.
CPS representatives would not comment on the case.
After CPS officials met with police last week, it was determined that 6-year-old Isabel's two older brothers would be placed with their mother, Becky Celis. Sergio Celis voluntarily agreed not to have contact with his two sons.
Lukasiewicz gave the statement in response to the reports that CPS previously went to the family's home, and to react to what she described as the "negative press and public scrutiny" that has been directed toward her brother, she said.
"After witnessing the agony Sergio is suffering, it has pushed me forward to speak up now," she said. "We ask that you please maintain compassion and understanding for the entire family." Lukasiewicz did not give further comment after reading the statement.
Becky Celis attended the candlelight walk but declined to comment specifically about CPS or the investigation.
She said she's talked to her husband periodically since he's been apart from the family.
The separation has been hard on her husband, she said.
She described her husband as a great father who loves his sons and loves Isabel.
The couple's sons have remained strong despite the circumstances surrounding the family, she said.
"The boys are having a hard time, but they're doing OK," she said. "They're strong."
Tucson police said this week that the case was considered an abduction. Some family members, along with most of the sex offenders in the area near the Celis home in the 5600 block of East 12th Street, have been eliminated as suspects, police said. Others, including Isabel's parents, have not been ruled out.
Police did not release any new information Friday.
Volunteers hosted a candlelight vigil and walk Friday evening that attracted more than 250 people.
The walk began with a balloon release at volunteer headquarters in the parking lot on the southeast corner of East Broadway and Craycroft Road before heading to the Celis home in the 5600 block of East 12th Street.
Volunteers handed out candles for people to light once they arrived at the Celis home.
The group was expected to walk around Park Place Mall before returning to the headquarters for food and performances by musicians who wrote songs for Isabel.
Volunteers will hold a meeting, open to the public, at the headquarters at 8 p.m. Monday. For more information on the Isabel Celis case and upcoming volunteer events, go to bringisahome.com
Tucson police will give the next media briefing Monday at 2 p.m. at the midtown substation.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4115.