Category Archives: Parental Alienation

The present situation

A reporter at a California newspaper reported on where things now stand, and the mother’s continued efforts to prevent the children from maintaining normal family relationships.

http://www.recordnet.com/news/20160825/fitzgerald-michael-mcilwraths-cold-war-divorce

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

Marianne Grin: Russian courts rule she lied about violence

JusticeIn two separate cases, courts in St. Petersburg, Russia have ruled that Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь) and a Russian newspaper, Baltinfo,  engaged in defamation against the father of the abducted children by publishing false statements of violence that had never occurred.

The decisions are available in their original Russian text:

Grin defamation judgment (OCR version in Russian – shorter download)

Grin defamation judgment (original in Russian)

Baltinfo appeal decision (original in Russian)

The decisions, both of which were confirmed on appeal, describe how Grin fabricated a false story of “escaping” violence in Italy. Both Grin and Baltinfo have been ordered to pay the father compensation for moral damages, and to issue public retractions of the false statements.

Marianne GrinGrin’s  accusations were as elaborate as they were false, the courts found. For example, in the decision against Grin by the Dzerzhinsky court of St. Petersburg, the judge noted how she had claimed in the tabloid “Pravda.ru” of being beaten and that this led to the loss of partial eyesight in one eye.  Not only was the accusation of violence false (and unconfirmed by evidence), so was Grin’s alleged loss of eyesight. As the judge noted, Grin’s own medical records showed she had been diagnosed 20 years earlier of “a heriditary condition of strabism” in one eye. When her ex-husband filed for divorce, she attempted to attribute this condition to a non-existent violence.

(As noted elsewhere, after 12 years of marriage and four children, Grin began to assert accusations of violence only when her ex-husband filed for divorce.)

The judge also noted how Grin attempted to fabricate evidence in Russia, repeatedly taken the children as her “witnesses” to the Russian police during the many months she denied them any contact with family and relatives, coaching them on what to say.  Yet, the judge observed, the Russian police were unpersuaded by Grin’s obvious attempts to influence the children.

The decision against Baltinfo by a different St. Petersburg court was based on the publication of Grin’s false accusations without attempting to substantiate them.

This is an important win for the family, who have been battling Grin’s false accusation for years. As described elsewhere on this blog, Grin made false accusations of abuse against her own mother following a disagreement between the two. (Also in Russian.) In doing so, Grin invoked her qualification as a lawyer with a Harvard Law degree to have her mother’s parental rights over her step brother revoked, and to have her mother branded as mentally ill in the eyes of immigration authorities at the US Justice Department.

Years later, after her former husband filed for divorce and sought custody of the children in Italy, Grin attempted the same ruse. As Grin’s medical records proved, she made visits to the hospital with a reddened face after adult acne treatments, claiming that she had been beaten.  She also falsified documents in these efforts. The Italian courts dismissed all of her claims of violence. Grin not only made false accusations of abuse against her ex-husband but also against his girl-friend, the nanny that helped raise the children and other women around him. Again, all these charges were dismissed as false.

фото Марианны Гринь

фото Марианны Гринь

The recent decisions by the Russian courts follow similar decisions in Italy and the USA about Grin’s fabrications of abuse.

Grin abducted her four children after losing custody in Italy after being found by a court-appointed psychologist to be psychologically disturbed. But the problem remains that the children are still in her precarious care.

The Italian press continues to lament that lack of any action being taken to return the children to their family. In an article that appeared this month in the newspaper La Nazione, the paper noted that it was clear in the psych evaluation of June 20, 2011, that “the mother has a gravely disturbed personality” and that “the relationship of the mother with the children is of a strong psychopathic risk” because of behaviors ” that dangerously impact the psychological equilibrium of the children”.

“She was dangerous, and that was known,” writes La Nazione, yet the expert did not recommend restrictions on her visitation with the children, “because actions of  limitation could be read as confirmation of the paranoiac fantasies of the mother.”  As the article concludes, “the mother was paranoid and dangerous to the children, but lets not limit her too much or she will discover that she is paranoid and it is better not to let her find out.”

As one documented example of how Grin has severely abused the children in Russia, earlier this year she Grin placed them into Russian orphanages run by the Chabad-Lubavitch organization.

Members of the staff (also interviewed by Italian journalists) confirmed that Grin had told the children that their father no longer wanted them and would put them into orphanages in Italy if he found them. The children have now confirmed in Russian court that they were told by their mother that they had to come to Russia because their father intended to put their older brother into a mental institution in Italy.

Marianne Grin trying to stop father's legal right to pick up children at school

Marianne Grin (photo from La Repubblica newspaper)
Марианны Гринь – фото

Grin’s lies were not believed in the USA, in Italy, or by the Russian courts.  Unfortunately, the children continue to suffer by continuously being brought, by Grin, to police stations and to hospitals to report on alleged abuse. The children are the true victims of their mother’s delusions. The family is also concerned that perhaps she is harming them herself.

Happy Chanukkà to the Children!!!

Happy Hanukkah

The family and friends of the abducted children are hoping they will see these messages.

Sam, Eli, Sara and Ezra, we love you and miss you very much!

We have special presents for you from all the family, and we trust there will soon be a way for us to give them to you.

Remember lighting the chanukkìa at the Synagogue in Florence, and playing with all your friends?

Florence Synagogue

Florence Synagogue at night

Sara, do you remember when you were just six years old and had just learned to  write, and you sat yourself in front of the TV looking for gifts to put on your list? That was a lot of fun!

Until we are together again for another joyful holiday, I send you a big hug and wish you all a very Happy Chanukkà.

Love, Papa

Happy Hanukkah from Grandpa, Roro, Ina, Kevin, Molly, Lorenzo, Zoe, and Maggi!

The children’s friends in Florence also send them their very best wishes, and to let them know that they are waiting for them to return soon!

NB:  there are different spellings of this holiday in English, all transliterations from Hebrew. Chanukkà is the spelling used in the children’s Talmud Torà (Talmud Torah) classes in Florence.

Synagogue in Florence

Musical beat with hidden message for kids

There is a hidden message in this audio beat that the kids, or at least one of them, will understand.  Audio file

What is a mother? Aunt Molly’s open letter in defense of the children

Aunt Molly last summer with Sara, and her little cousin, Zoe, who adores and misses her

English version of Molly’s letter, published in the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper. Original in Italian is below.

Indifference, and Judicial System Without Humanity

Dear Director [of Corriere Fiorentino],

What is a mother? A mother is a person in that she is a vessel of diverse experiences – some even contradictory – including pain and pleasure, thoughts, hopes and prejudices, desires, or even self- love and hatred for others. What happens when this delicate balance is thrown off and the suffering of a psychiatric illness turns her world inside out and in doing so drags her children along with her? What happens when the mother, in this state of devastation, purports to be the owner of her own children and the fortress/prison that encloses them? What happens when all of her fears and her obsessions become the only walls of the world in which her children must remain?

In fleeing to Russia, her native country, Marianne Grin took her four children with her without worrying about their scholastic needs, their health, or their friends and family. It’s not just their father who is missing them, but also their uncles and aunt, their grandparents and their cousin. She took them with her, considering them objects that she possesses. And that is just how she treated them. When they were too burdensome for her she placed them in institutes and orphanages of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism to then be able to take them out when it was convenient for her in order to use them as weapons in the war waged against her husband.

Can a mother directly inject the poison of her insanity into the minds of her children and taint their entire future lives and imprint their psyches with the wounds of a suffering that is not even their own? In Italy you can, thanks to the complacent indifference of those who are supposed to be ordered by the law to prevent it.

The judicial authorities wipe their hands clean just like Pontius Pilate. In fact, they are the ones whose negligence and logically incoherent decisions permitted Marianne’s escape. And now they continue to take their time, and lose time, demonstrating supreme indifference towards the irremediable damage that their attitude will produce in the lives of these four children.

Bureaucracy has its timetable they say. And I respond to this that the “banality of evil” – as Hannah Arendt tells us – appears to present itself in the public institutions of every country involved here, Italy, Russia and the United States of America, and also in the religious institutions that Marianne used to her advantage.

Too many times we have been told by public officials and representative of religious communities that these are family problems that they can do nothing about. But I want to remind you here that if Marianne Grin fled to Russia illegally it is because of the unorganized Italian judicial system that gave her access to the children when they had a warning by the father’s lawyer with concerns about a potential attempt to flee, and it is the fault of a shameful complicity of a group of religious figures.

And if the children are still in Russia it is a because of the usual Italian justice system (it took 7 months to write one document – without effective consequences – where the Italian police are ordered to search for the children in Italy and in Russia); it is because of the Russian justice system that so far refuses to recognize the exclusive parental custody decision of the Italian court to the father; it is because of the absence of the direct involvement of all of the governments involved here, whether Italian, Russian or American, that simply demonstrate indifference regarding my niece and nephews, dual American and Russian citizens, born and raised in Italy, all of them legal residents in Italy, 3 of them born in Italy, but in fact, all Stateless and currently citizens of a No Man’s Land. And each of these public officials – who all speak different languages – says the same thing: we understand your pain, but we have to do our job.

With this letter I am addressing all of the authorities responsible here: Italian, Russian and American, is it really impossible to reconcile the timetables of bureaucracy and legal administration with that of the saving of the life of a human being?

Molly McIlwrath
The children’s aunt

Original Italian version, published together with articles about the refusal of Marianne Grin to permit the children to be visited by their long-time friends from Italy or their uncle, who came to see them in Russia from California.

L’INDIFFERENZA
E QUESTA GIUSTIZIA
SENZA UMANITÀ

Caro direttore, che cos’è una madre?

Una madre è una persona che, in quanto tale, è un contenitore di esperienze diverse e anche contraddittorie, di dolori e di piaceri, di pensieri, di speranze di pregiudizi, di desideri, di amore di sé, di odio per gli altri. Che cosa succede quando questo delicato equilibrio è turbato e il dolore — quello di una malattia psichiatrica — travolge una madre e con essa i suoi figli?

Che cosa succede quando la madre, in questo stato di devastazione, pretende di essere la proprietaria dei propri bambini, la fortezza carcere dentro cui chiuderli, con la scusa di proteggerli dal mondo? Che cosa succede quando tutte le sue paure, le sue ossessioni diventano le uniche pareti del mondo dentro cui i bambini devono stare?

Con questa fuga in Russia, il suo Paese nativo, Marianne si è portata dietro i suoi figli, senza preoccuparsi della loro esigenze scolastiche, dei problemi di salute, delle relazioni amicali e familiari. Qui non c’è solo il padre ad aspettarli, ma anche gli zii, i nonni, la cuginetta. Se li è portati dietro, considerandoli cose sue. E come tali li ha trattati.

Quando sono stati troppo ingombranti li ha depositati in istituti e orfanotrofi di ebrei ultraortodossi, per poi riprenderli quando le erano utili come armi da usare nella guerra al marito.

Può una madre, impunemente, instillare il veleno della propria follia nella mente dei figli, avvelenare la loro vita futura, marchiandoli con il fuoco di un dolore che non è loro?

In Italia si può, grazie anche alla complice indifferenza di chi invece dovrebbe essere deputato dalla legge ad evitarlo. L’autorità giudiziaria si lava le mani come Ponzio Pilato; eppure è questa che, con le sue negligenze e le sue decisioni logicamente incoerenti, ha permesso a Marianne la fuga. E ora continua a prendere tempo, a perdere tempo, dimostrando suprema indifferenza verso i danni irrimediabili che questo suo atteggiamento produrrà nelle vite dei bambini. La burocrazia ha i suoi tempi, ci dicono.

Ed io rispondo a questo che la «banalità del male» — come ci dice Hannah Arendt — sembra ripresentarsi nelle istituzioni pubbliche di ogni Paese coinvolto, Italia, Russia, Gli Stati Uniti, e anche nelle istituzioni religiose che Marianne ha usato a proprio vantaggio. Troppe volte ci siamo sentiti rispondere da pubblici ufficiali e rappresentanti di comunità religiose che questi sono problemi familiari rispetto ai quali loro non possono fare nulla.

Ma voglio qui ricordare che se Marianne è fuggita in Russia illegalmente è a causa della farraginosa macchina giudiziaria italiana che le ha consegnato i bambini quando a loro era già stato segnalato il pericolo di fuga, e a causa della colpevole complicità di alcuni religiosi. E se i bambini sono ancora in Russia è a causa dei tempi della solita giustizia italiana (7 mesi ci sono voluti per scrivere un documento — senza conseguenze effettive — con il quale si ordina alla polizia di ricercare i bambini in Italia e in Russia).

È a causa della giustizia russa che disconosce la decisione del tribunale italiano dell’affidamento esclusivo dei bambini al padre; è a causa dell’assenza di un intervento diretto dei governi coinvolti, quello italiano, quello russo e quello americano, che mostrano indifferenza sulla sorte dei miei nipoti, cittadini americani e russi, tutti e quattro residenti in Italia, tre di loro nati in Italia, ma di fatto, figli di una terra di nessuno.

E ognuno di questi pubblici ufficiali, che parlano lingue diverse, dicono la stessa cosa: comprendiamo il vostro dolore, ma noi dobbiamo fare il nostro lavoro.

Mi rivolgo a tutte le autorità responsabili qui, italiane, russe e americane: è davvero così impossibile conciliare i tempi dell’amministrazione della giustizia con la salvezza della vita di un essere umano?

Molly McIlwrath
Zia dei bambini

To Russia with Love: two Florentine children find their lost friends

Emma awaits her friend, Sara, at her last day of school in Russia

Travels with Emma and Edoardo to St. Petersburg on the trail (found) of the little ones kidnapped by their mother

From the Corriere Fiorentino (Florence edition of the Corriere della Sera), May 31, 2012: Corriere – page 1Corriere – page 2Corriere – page 3

ST. PETERSBURG  – Emma clasps tight in her hand a small card, as if it were a trophy. “This is priceless,” she tells her mother, skipping. Inside is the name of her dear friend, in Italian and Russian. It is priceless because that card is proof of an encounter that took too many months to occur. Mission accomplished. Emma and Sara, “friends for life,” finally managed to hug and now Emma is skipping as her dark eyes brim with joy. Her emotion from clasping that card so tight prompts her mother, Francesca, to tuck it safely into her purse so it doesn’t crumple.

Emma had to come to Russia to see her friend, and while preparing for this important trip she seemed much older than her nine years.  She waited for Sara for nine months in Florence, for her return from summer vacation. She was supposed to celebrate her birthday but that party never took place because Sara, together with her brothers – all in the custody of their father  by a court decree after the parent’s separation – was taken away to Russia, far from the father, the aunt and uncles, from their friends and from the lives they had always lived.

The criminal code refers to this as parental child abduction, a polite term for kidnapping, but for Emma it is simply called injustice. “Why did they leave without even saying goodbye?” she kept asking.  For months her parents hid the truth, and gradually her mother tried to explain.

Even Edoardo, 13 years old, last summer waited in vain for his friend Elliot to return from vacation. He waited because after having devoured together many fantasy novels, they decided to write a book based on real people. “We wanted to see who could write more – explained Edo – when he came to sleep at my house we would stay awake until late playing videogames and bouncing ideas off of each other about what to write.”

Elliot got all the way to 90 pages. That book is now in a computer file that remained in Florence when Elliot was forced to burn all of his bridges with the life he had always lived.

Michael, the “orphaned” father of his four children (Sam, 14, Elliot, 12, Sara, 9, and Ezra, 6) is an American lawyer who has spent his life in Italy.  Accustomed to difficult cases, he now finds himself with the most difficult battle of all. But he refuses to treat it as war. “I never declared war on anyone.  I only want my children to be well,” he repeats.  Notwithstanding the odyssey that he’s living through, he doesn’t use ferocious words against his ex wife. Of her he says only that, “she is ill and needs help, but refuses to accept any. She doesn’t realize the harm she is doing to the children.”

The Florence court two years ago awarded him sole custody of the children. A court-appointed psychologist painted a clear picture of the cyclone that was raging through Marianne’s mind. “Psychologically suffering with unpredictable and bizarre behavior, driven by paranoid fantasies” and victim of “plots and persecutions.”

Despite this psychological portrait, the judge allowed the mother to take the children on vacation as if that evaluation had never existed. Since last summer Michael’s life has been a pursuit without end. When he discovered where the children were located, he went to find them, a battle against his ex wife – who wants to prevent any contact with the children – and even the Russian media since Marianne presents her situation as an escape from Italy rendered necessary by a violent husband.  Only one newspaper, Fontanka, dug further, thanks to a reporter, Irina Tumakova, who did not limit herself to Marianne’s accusations but who actually read the documents, spoke with the protagonists, and in the end arrived at a different truth.  It was she who called the police when, a month ago, Michael came to the school where the children had been recently enrolled.

Only after the police arrived did the school director allow the children to see their father.  “He has his parental rights,” the policemen explained, “why are you not letting him see them?”  Since that moment, Michael’s life has been based on those trips to Russia, round trip Florence-St. Petersburg, to see his children, if only for a few minutes.

An apartment on the outskirts of town, three school changes: nine months of life as fugitives

A neighborhood of tall apartment buildings on the outskirts of the city, near the sea, with the occasional playground: this is where the fugitive children are now living. By car, it takes about an hour to get from there to the center of this imperial city, which was the court of the tsars. This suburb with its construction works strewn about seems so far from the postcards containing palaces and churches.

Since they arrived in Russia, at the end of August, the children have a fugitive’s life. They have changed school three times:  first one, then to an ultra-orthodox Jewish orphanage, from which the mother took the children out only on weekends, and finally this blue institute near the apartment where they now live.

Today the school is festive because it is the last day of elementary school.  There’s a play, music, and song, and the presentation of end-of-the-year reports.

When Sara sees her dear friend she panics and runs away.  Emma is holding a present for that birthday that was never celebrated. She drew two little girls who are holding each others’ hands. She wrote, “Emma and Sara: friends for life” and she had it printed on a t-shirt.

Edo meets Elliot and gives him a videogame as a present. They talk non-stop the entire morning. It’s the magic of children who manage to latch onto an uninterrupted thread months later, as if no time had gone by.

There she is, the fugitive woman. Wearing a fuchsia pullover and with a camera in hand, she mingles with the other mothers. When she sees the friends from Italy, together with her ex-husband and the children’s uncle Kevin who came from the USA, she cannot hide her anger. She speaks to the children’s friends, scolding them, “Why did you come without telling me? This shows a lack of respect!”

Emma tries to say hello to her friend from the distance, and then breaks out in tears. She only manages to deliver her gift as Marianne takes Sara away.  But a couple of hours later the unexpected call arrives: the children can come to her house. When Sara opens the door, she is wearing the t-shirt that Emma made. Edoardo and Elliot play ball like old times.

In order for this to occur, however, Marianne had imposed her rules, which seem like those dictated by a hostage-taker negotiating the release of one of the hostages:  telephone calls only from a Russian phone number, no adults may be present, the children must arrive on their own to the gate, and she alone will come down and get them.

Earlier in the day, Marianne had explained to Edoardo – why him is anyone’s guess – that she has little money left.  She said that because dentists are expensive, she had to have the children’s braces removed from their teeth.  I wanted to ask Marianne why she refused to accept the father’s offer to pay for all of their health expenses, dental included, in one of the best medical clinics in the city.  But she didn’t want questions and instead just shouted, “go away, I’m calling the police.”

The meeting of the children lasts an hour.  When they leave the apartment, Emma and Edoardo have happiness painted on their faces. “Can we come back tomorrow?” they ask. Marianne will disappear into a void for the nth time. Her phone will ring unanswered in the days that follow.

The mother’s lies: “Papa, why do you want to lock my brother up in an asylum?”

The next day, the father returns to the school with Edo and uncle Kevin. The only one present is Elliot. Sam – the previous day – had attacked the father from behind, when he saw him at school, and doesn’t want to see him.

The meeting with Elliot takes place in a room in the presence of the school psychologist. At the beginning he refuses to speak with his father or to look him in the eye. Then, between laughs at his uncle Kevin’s clowning and his friend Edoard, he levels the following accusation at his dad: “you were here in court on February 7, my birthday, and you didn’t even give me a present. You want to take us away from here in order to put my brother Sam into an insane asylum.”

Michael calmly explains that this isn’t true at all, that he didn’t even know where they were then [NDR and that the accusation of putting his brother in an asylum is false].  And in a moment he understands that the hardest rock to climb won’t be to win a judicial battle, but to combat the lies and phantoms that Marianne is fabricating day after day in the minds of the children.

Antonella Mollica
antonella.mollica@rcs.it