Monthly Archives: February 2012

Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome Drives False Accusations in Divorce and Leads to Child Abduction

The children were sick regularly when they were with the mother. The teachers reported that they were frequently out of school when they were with her.

The children had frequent complaints of stomach aches and other maladies when they returned from their visitations with her, and medicines she had given them for what turned out to be phantom illnesses. Following up, the father found that the medicines were rarely really needed. But when confronted, she would become aggressive and threaten police action.

The court appointed psychologist wrote this about, the mother, Marianne Grin: “with respect to school frequency, the mother has demonstrated a bizarre and unpredictable behavior: she goes to pick up the children before the end of the lessons; she does not bring them to school, at times without valid reasons.” He also wrote “Considering the behavioral picture that emerges from all people that have had contact with the mother, we believe that there should be a new deep psychiatric evaluation of Ms. Grin, there being strong suspicions of a very gravely disturbed personality.
In a similar context of mental illness, the relationship of the mother with the children is of strong psycho pathological risk.

After the abduction of the children by Ms. Grin, documents came to light revealing much of her behavior. She had been incessantly taking the children to the emergency room of the Meyer children’s hospital in Florence. So much so, that the Child Abuse Prevention group asked the police officer posted at the hospital to send a letter of concern to the Florence Prosecutor as well as the Prosecutor of the juvenile court. The family had long suspected Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

Translated version of the letter:

Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome is a form of factitious disorder and “is a mental illness in which a person acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick … Factitious disorders are considered mental illnesses because they are associated with severe emotional difficulties”. (Cleveland Clinic)

“Munchausen’s Syndrome is a disorder in which an individual repeatedly fakes or exaggerates their own illness or medical symptoms in order to manipulate the attentions of medical professionals or caregivers.

Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome is a similar syndrome in which another individual, commonly a child, is substituted for the patient and made the focus of inappropriate medical attention. In Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, an individual – typically a mother [Statistically, 98% of the perpetrators are female] – deliberately makes another person (most often his or her own preschool child) sick or convinces others that the person is sick. The parent or caregiver misleads others into thinking that the child has medical problems by reporting fictitious episodes. He or she may exaggerate, fabricate, or induce symptoms. As a result, doctors commonly order tests, experiment with medications and, in severe cases, may hospitalize the child or perform surgery to determine the cause.” (From outofthefog.net)

This disorder is considered child abuse by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and is a crime. It is also recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness. “Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a complex form of child abuse in which an adult, usually a mother, creates the appearance that her child is ill by fabricating evidence and even by inducing symptoms in the child. A contemporary form of this syndrome occurs when the mother creates the appearance that the child has been abused by someone else, generally the father in a divorce and custody or visitation dispute.” (Deirdre Conway Rand http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume5/j5_3_1.htm#en0r)

A significant number of experts believe that mothers with Munchausen syndrome by proxy have a borderline personality disorder. People with a borderline personality disorder have an abnormal pattern of thoughts and beliefs about themselves and other people. Their thought patterns and beliefs can make them behave in a way that others would find abnormal and disturbed.” (Medical News Today)

Eventually though, the Psychologists, Social Services, Meyer Hospital, doctors, the police, the Judges and everyone involved concluded that Ms. Grin was not fit to have custody of the children. The father was awarded sole and exclusive custody of all four children in December 2010, after 2 years of custody battles, many emergency room visits and false accusations.

When Ms. Grin lost custody, she did not stop the emergency room visits. On the contrary, they became more bizarre. She levied allegations against his family members, his lawyer, his new girlfriend, the children’s nanny of nine years, the court-appointed psychologist, and even the youngest son’s therapist. As a tactic, her frequent complaints, no matter how strange, inevitably slowed the divorce and custody process. This behavior is consistent with the contemporary-type Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome described by Deirdre Conway Rand … “As in classical cases, contemporary-type MSP is generally practiced by the mother who most often accuses the father in a divorce and custody or visitation dispute but who also may accuse the father’s new wife and her children or the father’s relatives.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back came in February 2011. She brought one of the children to the emergency room and had him declare that his father had forced him to stand outside on a terrace “for 10 minutes after a verbal argument,” and that “he had ordered him to come down out of a tree house early one morning..”

This was the incident that prompted the authorities at the emergency room, unaware that the father had already been awarded sole custody, to suggest the children be moved into an environment away from their mother.

Looks like a text book case, right? Except that in Italy the authorities are reluctant even in extreme cases to take children away from mothers and the judicial process is slow and easily manipulated by false accusations. Deirdre Conway Rand says “In today’s climate, the accusation that a child has been abused or molested is accepted at face value, with little, if any, effort made to distinguish between true and false allegations. The energy of the authorities is directed towards keeping the accused away from the child and punishing the accused whenever possible … This makes it relatively easy for divorced parents, who are either unscrupulous or blinded by their own emotional needs, to enlist the aid of the authorities in supporting a false abuse scenario.”

When a mother loses custody and is deemed a danger to her children, the standard recommendations are of “supervised visits for the mother and children. Such visitations are usually supervised by a psychologist…” (Deirdre Conway Rand)

Supervised visitations were not awarded, but at least in the care of the father, the 3 youngest children all improved psychologically as well as scholastically, both in attendance and in performance. This was confirmed by their grades, by their teachers’ reports, by reports provided to the courts by Social Services who monitored the family, and confirmed by the court-appointed psychologist. By contrast, the eldest, who unfortunately remained with his mother, missed about half the school year and failed.

As the courts did not mandate supervised visitation, Ms. Grin was able to kidnap them to Russia, they have no family to protect them. Marianne Grin knows that everyone around her concludes, as the court-appointed psychologist said, she is a danger to the children, and for this reason is preventing any contact not just with the father, but any of the children’s family, their friends, including her own mother, the children’s maternal grandmother, and she is denying them access to any form of communication, whether phone, internet, or social media that they used to have. Ms. Grin must be afraid that if the children are able to communicate with the rest of the world, she will be shown to be, as the judge said, an inadequate parent.

Keeping the children silent is not right.

In order to ensure the children have adequate care and protect them from their mother’s illnesses, the father went to Russia and organized a plan with a local pediatrician and private hospital where Ms. Grin can take the children at his expense. Ms. Grin rejected this, stating she does not wish to have the father involved in her decisions to medically treat the children. Indeed, immediately after the abduction, the father learned that Ms. Grin had an operation performed on the 5 year old in Russia, and she has not said what the operation was for.

While the father was in Russia, Ms. Grin kept the children hidden and refused to let him see them. She also told him she would continue to refuse him the divorce in Italy.

These children need to be saved, the longer it takes the more at risk they are!

We hope the Italian authorities are taking this seriously and are doing all possible to help get these kids back home as fast as possible.

Resources:
http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume5/j5_3_1.htm#en0r
http://outofthefog.net/CommonBehaviors/Munchausens.html
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/factitious_disorders/hic_munchausen_syndrome_by_proxy.aspx
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/167880.php
http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sick/munchausen.html
http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/articles/parenting/hsmun.html
http://allpsych.com/journal/munchausen.html

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We Miss You Kids!!!!!!

This gallery contains 19 photos.

“I miss all of you so much and am working on getting you back home as soon as possible, Love, Babbo” “Kids, we love and miss you all so much and hope you are ok and that you will come … Continue reading

Family Letter to Marianne Grin

Dear Marianne,

This is a plea from our family to you to please allow the children to have access via phone, email or Skype with their father, their grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousin and their friends in Florence. It has been more than five months since you fled Florence with them to Russia without allowing them any goodbyes to anyone or even a chance to pack up the belongings that are most dear to them.
It is heartbreaking to see their bedrooms as they left them, without any idea that they would be leaving so abruptly, to hear their friends and teachers concern and fear about what has happened to them and why, and to their little cousin who, in the meantime, has begun to speak at 2 ½ years old and tells her mother all the time that she wants to see them; every time she visits her uncle’s house and sees her cousins’ empty rooms she calls for them.
Please, Marianne, think of the children’s young lives right now and their well-being and put an end to this hiding out and creating a barrier that separates them from the world and people they know and love so much. They are innocent children and do not deserve this.

The Family

Italiano

Questa e’ una preghiera che la nostra famiglia ti rivolge affinche’ tu permetta ai bambini di comunicare via telefono, email o Skype, con il loro padre, i loro nonni, la loro zia e i loro zii, la loro cugina e i loro amici di Firenze. Sono passati piu’ di cinque mesi da quando tu hai lasciato firenze con loro per andare in Russia, senza consertirli di salutare qualcuno o di mettere in valigia le loro cose piu’ care.
Fa male al cuore vedere i loro letti come loro li hanno lasciati, senza l’idea che sarebbero andati via cosi’ bruscamente. Fa male al cuore sentire la preoccupazione e la paura dei loro amici e insegnanti su che cosa sia loro successo e perché. Fa male al cuore sentire la loro piccola cugina, che nel fratempo, ha cominciato a parlare, dire sempre alla sua mamma che vuole vederli o sentirla che li chiama ogni volta che va a casa di suo zio e vede le loro camere da letto vuote.
Per favore, Marianne, pensa alle vite dei bambini in questo momento e al loro benessere. Smetti di nasconderli e di creare una barriera che li separa dal mondo e dalle persone a loro care. Sono bambini innocenti e non meritono tutto questo.

La famiglia

The Terrible Abduction of Four Children

Parental child abduction is by itself devastating, but when compounded with parental alienation with false accusations of violence, an abductor’s criminal activity, and personal attacks on all those who have known and loved the children, it can be catastrophic.

This is an unbelievable but true story of the abduction of four US children taken from their custodial parent and their community, during a visitation by the non-custodial parent. The family was being monitored by court-appointed psychologists as well as Social Services for about three years.

After the father filed for divorce, the mother embarked on a campaign to alienate the children by beginning to accuse him and other family members of domestic violence. As reported in the Italian press (leading national paper La Repubblica and La Nazione), the mother, Marianne Grin, a Harvard educated lawyer who has dual US and Russian citizenship, was found by the court appointed psychologist (Dr. Armando Ceccarelli) to suffer from severe mental illness.

In his court report to Judge Papait in June 2011, Dr. Ceccarelli says “The mother’s behavior and her relationship with the children … As we have already observed in the occasion of the previous monitoring, Ms. Grin […] appears a person suffering psychologically. Her behaviors are unpredictable and bizarre, guided by paranoid fantasy, of being a subject of a ‘plot’ and of ‘persecution’ in part by the Tribunal and by the ‘institutions’ in general (she manifests a strong distrust even of Social Services and Pediatric Neuropsychiatry). Considering the behavioral picture that emerges from all people that have had contact with the mother, we believe that there should be a new deep psychiatric evaluation of Ms. Grin, there being strong suspicions of a very gravely disturbed personality. In a similar context of mental illness, the relationship of the mother with the children is of strong psycho-pathological risk.”

He goes on to say: “The benefit to the children of psychotherapy and the quality of the father’s environment (and not only the simple removal of the mother) are in our opinion the two principle resources to use to avoid that the children are damaged psychologically by the behavior of the mother.”

The court-appointed psychologist, Dr. Ceccarelli, did not recommend protected visits for the mother saying “The reduction in frequency or the change in mode of the visits would not reduce in fact, in our opinion, the risk of inducing psycho-pathologies, enhancing instead the experience of persecution and paranoia that the mother tends to induce in the children. Action of further “limitations” in time with the mother could in fact be read as “confirmation” of her paranoiac fantasies.”

Unfortunately Ms. Grin, unhappy with the court decision, acted at the end of August 2011 when she had her visitation days consecutively. She kidnapped the children, escaping from Italy, in clear violation of the court decree. In this way, she actually increased “the risk of inducing psycho-pathologies […] in the children”… an outcome that the court-appointed psychologist, obviously, did not consider.

Now, she refuses to tell anyone where she is keeping the children and is refusing to let them have any contact with their father, the maternal grandmother (who says her daughter has refused any type of contact in the past 15 years), the paternal grandparents, the paternal aunt and uncle and a maternal uncle (her brother) nor any of their school friends. The children do not seem to be going regularly to school, just as happened in Florence when they were with the mother. Ms. Grin has no family in Russia so it is concerning that the children are alone with her, possibly locked up somewhere.

Background to the Escape
On December 7, 2010 the Court of Florence issued an order: “A) providing custody of minor children […] exclusively to the father, to be domiciled at his home; B) the mother will see the children […] every week on Friday, from the end of school until Saturday at 15:00 […] and – on alternate weeks – from the end of school on Friday through Sunday afternoon at 17:00” … “The court orders Marianne Grin to comply with the above measures, leaving open the possibility of supervised visits in the event of non-compliance.”

Courts in Italy award sole exclusive custody to fathers less than 2% of the time (http://www.istat.it/en/archive/32717 In 2009 “86.2% of separations with children were with joint custody, as opposed to 12.2% in which custody of the children was awarded exclusively to the mother.”)

The Court appointed psychologist’s report to the judge dated November 2010 said:
“From what emerges from the monitoring, we retain necessary to suggest to the Court some modification in respect to the actual organization of the life of the minors. Currently, the center of the daily life of the children is situated at the maternal residence and the mother is the figure that is prevalently requested to care for the minors. Faced with this task however, Ms. Grin has until today demonstrated to be inadequate. She has not collaborated with the other figures that take care, in various forms, of the children (Social Services, Therapists, educators from the Jewish Community) resulting frequently unavailable, contrasting and at times hindering their work. Also with respect to school frequency, the mother has demonstrated a bizarre and unpredictable behavior: she goes to pick up the children before the end of the lessons; she does not bring them to school, at times without valid reasons.”

We at bringflorentinekidshome believe these were more than enough reasons to take away the custody from the mother and place the children solely with the father. But this is not the whole story. There are multiple levels to this incredible tale, and it gets darker than could ever have been imagined. We will save those recounts for future reading…

As Lord Byron said, “Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction.”

Some of the press on the story

English articles:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harris-silver/russian-democracy-has-a-p_b_1228575.html

http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/article-view.asp?issuetocId=7229

http://tashalaw.wordpress.com/tag/marianne-grin/

http://www.legalfrontiers.ca/2011/10/russia-joins-the-hague-convention-on-the-civil-aspects-of-international-child-abduction/

http://doastheflorentines.blogspot.com/2011/11/four-american-children-kidnapped-in.html

Italian articles:
http://firenze.repubblica.it/cronaca/2011/10/14/news/la_moglie_fugge_in_russia_con_i_figli_il_marito_aiutatemi_a_trovarli-23186341/

http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2011/10/14/rapisce-figli-scappa-in-russia.html

http://www.dirittoeminori.com/pages/bambini-spariti-nel-nulla/

http://www.zeroviolenzadonne.it/rassegna/pdfs/3c599e38af67429291cf552de40d55d1.pdf

http://www.lanazione.it/firenze/cronaca/2011/10/14/600236-scappa_figli_russia.shtml

http://nuovavenezia.gelocal.it/cronaca/2011/10/15/news/i-figli-rapiti-passati-per-il-ghetto-1.1597052

http://www.divorziobreve.org/node/1255

Russian articles

http://www.fontanka.ru/2012/03/22/024/

http://www.inosmi.ru/social/20120131/184438292.html

http://blogs.mail.ru/inbox/trubina.anna/429F337C8E56973A.html