Author Archives: Save the Florentine Children

Marianne Grin Criminal Conviction in Italy: 3 Years Prison

 

A quick update: Marianne Grin has been convicted of child abduction and sentenced to three years in prison in Italy.

Grin kidnapped the couple’s four children and took them out of Italy to Russia in September 2011 illegally against an Italian decree which gave sole custody to the children’s father. This site will provide a link to the judge’s decision.

English translation of article from Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper 

FLED TO RUSSIA WITH FOUR CHILDREN, MOTHER SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS PRISON

The 3rd of September 2011, Russian-America lawyer Marianne Grin should have brought the four children, aged 14,11, 9 and 6 years, to their father, an American lawyer who works in Florence, to whom the Florence courts had awarded sole custody. Instead, assisted by an ultra-orthodox rabbi, she fled to Russia with them. Now Marianne Grin has been condemned by the Florence criminal court to 3 yrs in prison for child abduction, who recognized the suffering of the husband, who was assisted by his lawyer Eriberto Russo, and his desperation for the fate of his children taken thousands of kilometers away by Grin who was found to be in a fragile psychiatric state.
The father has been to Russia more than 50 times and and was not permitted to see the children. He found they had been abandoned to orphanages or were hidden by their mother. Even the Russian courts awarded the father rights to see the children and to take them out of Russia, but he has never been able to see them. The only comfort is that one of the children has returned to live with him.

Happy Birthday Ezra!

imagesEzra, a HUGE happy birthday to you from everyone in Italy, including Papa, Eli, Maggi, Molly, Lorenzo, Zoe, and your friends who keep asking about you, and all ofthe grandparents in California, and also Kevin and JD. (JD is also known as “Just Dog.” After becoming good friends with Eli this year , JD said he really wants to meet you!)

Some very good presents are on their way to you. We we are all looking forward to seeing you very very soonlego_star_wars_wallpaper_by_artifypics-d5fwtn6.

A big hug and happy kisses and hopes that you have a wonderful birthday and great party!

Happy Birthday Ezra!!!!

imageHappy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday Dear Ezra!
Happy Birthday to You!

We love you and miss you very very much!
We wish we could see you!
We wish we could talk to you!

Please know you are in our thoughts, our dreams and our hearts each and every day, even if you can not see us!

Love,
Papa, Maggi, Aunt Molly, Uncle Kevin, Zio Lorenzo, Grandma Roro, Grandpa Jim, Grandma Ina and little cousin Zoe!! Oh, and Hobbes the cat too!

Ezzy March 2011Mike & Z at workEzzy Skiing 2 2011

Moscow Times: Russia Puts Politics Over Children

In an article about the case in this week’s Moscow Times, former Moscow Ombuds for children, Alexei Golovan, speaks about the children’s abduction and the psychological damage that Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь) is causing the children. “The children become hostages in this situation. The abductor determines the future of the children, who become used to the company of one parent over the other. This can cause serious psychological damage, as the children feel betrayed and their sense of worth is hit. It can determine the ultimate character of the children.”

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/why-a-girl-tore-her-us-passport/475927.html

Politics Seen in International Custody Disputes

Why a Girl Tore Her U.S. Passport

21 February 2013

By Alexander Winning

Sara ripping her passport

With photo cameras snapping and television cameras rolling, Sara defiantly said she had no intention of living in the U.S.Muffled in a light-blue coat and with downcast eyes, 10-year-old Sara ripped apart her American passport outside the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg.

Standing nearby, her mother, Russian emigre and Harvard graduate Marianne Grin, voiced support for legislation banning Americans from adopting Russian children — the reason for the rally in late December.

“The way that America betrayed us has led us to despair,” Grin said by phone Thursday, explaining her daughter’s actions.

State media lapped up the scene of a child rejecting her father’s U.S. heritage in favor of her mother’s Russian roots. The image of Sara tearing up her passport — albeit it was expired — appeared on television and in newspapers and blogs as the country debated the Jan. 1 ban on U.S. child adoptions.

Sara’s theatrical gesture, however, casts the spotlight on a less visible sore point in U.S.-Russian relations where children are also suffering: child custody disputes.

Continue reading at

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/why-a-girl-tore-her-us-passport/475927.html

Russian news video exposes some of the lies

Komsomolskaya Pravda , an online Russian daily newspaper, has published a new video with interviews of Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь) about

KP banner

Russian court decision refusing to recognize the Italian judgment, awarding domicile of the children to the father, under an international treaty between Russia and Italy.

Unlike previous Russian videos, the reporter attempted to verify Grin’s various claims of violence in Italy and even Russia, and found them to lack any basis. After the paper’s investigation, it also deleted or modified previous articles about the case.

The video is available at:  http://www.kp.ru/video/486574/

A transcript of the video, in English, was kindly provided by a friend of the site set up by the family on Facebook, for which we are grateful.

MG shoving reporter

English transcript to video

US citizen Marianne Grin ran away from her American husband to Russia, bringing the couple’s four children, later demonstrating by tearing up her and the children’s American passports in front of the US consulate.

Family conflicts are difficult to figure out, each side considering itself on the right side, and the other side in the wrong. We are going to attempt to sort things out. Marianne, a native of Moscow was taken to the United States in the early 90s, when she was 15 years old. [Correction: she left Russia in 1980.]

The young woman graduated from Harvard, became a lawyer, found a good job and fell in love. Michael was tall, handsome. They got married and started working together in the law division of the largest energy company in the US. Marianna gave birth to the first child when her husband was offered to work in the company’s legal department in Italy.

The family moves to Florence. There Marianne gives birth to three more children. Then a family conflict flares up. Both sides describe it differently. Michael refuses to comment on it publicly (to journalists), explaining his unwillingness to discuss the mother in front of the children.

Marianne, on the other hand, is eager to speak to the press, peppering her husband with insults.

“We were not poor, my husband had, and continues to have, a very well paying job, which forces him to travel around the world because he is responsible for international legal affairs of a huge American corporation. He lives in airplanes. He would leave home for a week to two weeks and what he did on those business trips, only he knows. At some point he started to live a separate life in the open, and that is how we lived.”

Divorce in Italy can be a terrible ordeal. Whoever gains custody of the children has the claim to a large portion of the family assets plus child support payments. [Note: this appears to be Grin’s spin on Italian law to the journalist.]

“He understood what that would mean for him and he sued me for the sole custody of all four children, purely for economic reasons. The story took a different turn when he forced the kids to live with him. And the beatings began.”

Violence towards the children is Marianne’s main accusation against her former husband. And she accused him of that frequently. On one occasion, Michael supposedly hit the kids’ heads against the wall, on another she alleges he broke the eldest son’s arm.

But the doctors, after thorough examinations, found no health problems with the children. No criminal cases were ever initiated. After a lengthy process, the court decided that the children should live with their father, but both parents would retain custody. It was a victory for Michael. But this, as it turned out, was not the end of this story.

Marianna: “The father stole the children’s American passports and banned the consular officer from issuing them new passports, and we ended up in Italy as Russian citizens. To this day there are no other documents for the children.”

Having lost the case in Italy, Marianne decided to take a desperate step: together with the children she took a boat to Croatia and from there she took a plane to St. Petersburg.

“We escaped to Russia, when the situation became absolutely desperate. He sued for custody through the courts and did not want to divide the family assets, and that he got. He had me listed in Interpol, now I am an international criminal, as I ‘kidnapped’ the kids. I cannot leave this country, I would be immediately arrested on the border…”

But Marianna’s statements have no basis in fact. Here is the official Interpol website:Interpol - no Grin listing

As can be seen, Mrs. Grin is not listed among the Russian women of comparable age. Nor is she listed among American women.

By the way, what were the documents that Marianne Grin was tearing up in front of the US consulate? If her husband stole the documents, how could she tearing them up in Russia?

There are many such questions about Marianne’s story.

Marianna: “For the last 1.5 years he is bombarding me with suits here, in St. Petersburg, to forcefully impose the Italian court decision regarding the custody of the kids. One and a half months ago he showed up in a state school here, across the park, insisting on ‘contact’, he is legally their father, and attacked the kids. He came and said that he wants to communicate with the kids, but this American father has no control.  He physically attacked his 6 year old son, grabbed him by the legs, hit his head against the wall, against the floor, dragged him upside down to the third floor of the school, where he was planning to ‘communicate’ with the kids. He says he has the ‘right’, that he is the ‘owner’, ‘MINE!’..

The school principal describes these events differently. In her letter to the court, she states that the father attempted to take the child to the classroom, however, the boy started to resist, so the father put the child on his shoulder and carried him. There is no mention of beating, or hitting the child’s head against the wall.

And then there is this video made by Michael himself. The teachers, his son and his daughter are all in the classroom. There is his daughter, calmly next to the wall. No one is crying, grimacing in pain, or holding their head. However he is unable to communicate with his son. In order to attract his attention, the father is hiding behind the desks.

Everything is calm until the mother forces herself into the classroom. Only now her son starts to cry.

[Voice of Marianne shouting on video from school]: “Come here now! Turn around! This is called violence against children!” MG accusing violence at school

Marianne takes away the children, how they later have concussions is a mystery. But the mother goes to the police and attempts to press criminal charges against her husband.

Interviewer to Marianne: “Will you be trying to prevent meetings between the kids and their father?”

Marianne: “No, of course not, I have to, my kids are not two years old, I again repeat that my two older kids are taller than me, speak in low voices, so I do not plan to try to prevent anything, it would be impossible.”

We ask Marianne to comment on the video shot at school. Her facial expression immediately changes.

Grin gets angry at reporter

[Marianne to reporter] “You were paid to represent the interests of an American citizen. Your questions are provocative and false.  There is no sense in answering a false question. Thank you. Now goodbye. [shoving the reporter’s microphone and walking away] Goodbye!”

Now Marianne’s case about the four children is being tried in St. Petersburg. The lower court (first instance) refused to enforce the Italian’s court’s ruling. The children will stay with their mother for now.

Michael: “I am disappointed, obviously. We will continued to try this case in Russia. It was already tried once, and decided in Italy. Now we are going to have to repeat this whole process in Russia. I am ready for anything to meet with my kids in Russia. When it is impossible to meet with the kids, impossible to speak with them, it is very difficult to convince them that the information they were given about me is false, to tell them their father loves them as much as before. And everything they were told about their father is not true.

And there has been zero communication with the children since September of 2011. Everybody was blocked from communicating, the entire family, including the three-year old little girl who is their cousin. It was really hard for her to lose contact. It is a very dramatic situation.

One of my children will soon have a birthday. I will try to get him a birthday present and find someone to help deliver it.

We offered Michael to use our channel and address the children directly.

Michael: “I miss you guys, I love you very much.”

Mike in front of court

Letter to the Children

Sam, Eli, Sara, Ezra,

C Kent Love heartWe will always be here for you. We are your family and no judicial decision can change that. Stay strong together and know that you are loved and thought of each day even though we are not being allowed to be in touch with you for over a year now.

Roro and Grandpa are extremely sad not to be able to even wish you happy birthdays, or Chanuka or send you gifts or letters or emails and skype like the past.

It would mean so much to at least be able to have some kind of communication with you. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to all of us that you are being forced to live cut off from family and all your friends in Florence.

C Kent Love

We will not give up on you!

With love and hope that somehow this message gets through to you,

Aunt Molly

Judgment: Russia Will not Respect International Treaty – no reasons yet given

UPDATE, JANUARY 30, 2013: The judge’s written decision, issued on January 29, gives two reasons for the denial of recognition: the children’s Russian citizenship and unspecified conflicts with Russian law.

Neither of these impediments were present in the previous rulings of the same judge, when he issued a decision in January 2012 stating that interim Italian decrees could not be recognized in Russia, only the court’s final decision, and that the award of “sole custody” to the father is not legally recognizable. Both of these issues were addressed with the final judgment of the Italian court, rendered in September 2012, but the judge does not appear to follow his own, earlier decision of January 2012.

The essence of this ruling is essentially that foreign decisions cannot be enforced in Russia even when the Russian party voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the foreign court and continues to participate in the foreign proceedings even after initiating identical claims against the same party in Russia. 

The Russian court today in St. Petersburg denied the request for recognition of the final Italian judgment, refusing to apply the international convention the country signed with Italy for the enforcement of civil judgments. No reasons were given yet.

images injusticePreviously, an interim Italian decree awarding custody of the children to the father was issued prior to the abduction of the children by Marianne Grin. Grin illegally abducted the children to Russia, as well as violating an Italian court order prohibiting the children from leaving the country without the consent of both parents.

After abducting the children to Russia, Grin continued to press her case for custody in the Italian courts, which makes today’s decision even more difficult to understand.  In violating basic notions of due process, the decision essentially gives Grin the right to choose which court decision she prefers.

We are waiting for more information about the judge’s decision.

Italy & Russia

In a separate case before a different judge that Grin has filed in St. Petersburg against her ex-husband, with the same requests she made in Italy, the court has now ordered a psychological and psychiatric examination of the entire family.  Grin has opposed any such examination in Russia of her or the children.