Parental Child Abduction – A father’s hunt for his missing son


September 9, 2013

Source: Vancouversun

Maximus Kawabata-Morness is five. Max would have started kindergarten on Tuesday. But 42 days ago his mother abducted him and took him to Japan. Kris Morness has no idea where exactly his son is. Morness is heartbroken, frantic. But, sadly, he is not really surprised.

Ever since he and Chie Kawabata separated at the beginning of 2011, Morness has been dreading and expecting this.

Japan is a black hole for abducted kids. It does not recognize Family Court orders from other jurisdictions and has become a safe haven for parental child abductors. More than 300 Canadian-born children and 3,000 or more American-born children who have been abducted by their parents and hidden away there.

max

“I know I can’t reach her [Kawabata] through the law,” says Morness, who lives in Vancouver. “Japan is effectively immune.”

In desperation, the video game developer has taken the unusual step of crowdsourcing help through a website called http://www.ChieKawabata.com.

Morness hopes strangers will help him locate his son. And, because his ex-wife also works in the tech industry, Morness wants her current employer and any prospective employers to know that Kawabata contravened a court order forbidding her from taking Max to Japan and that police are recommending that Kawabata be charged with first-degree custodial interference in Washington state where she had been living.

(If convicted, Kawabata could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to a $10,000.)

Posted on the site are court documents and transcripts from the couple’s messy and lengthy divorce and custody proceedings, along with the police report confirming that Kawabata abducted Max on July 26 and Kawabata’s last email to Morness on Aug. 2.

In it, Kawabata says that she is in Osaka and has taken a leave of absence for the month of August to visit her cancer-stricken mother.

“The torment I have endured in recent years have left me (and therefore Max) emotionally ruined and have forced my hands to take this step that I wish I did not have to take,” she wrote, adding that Skype calls with Max could be resumed the next week “as I have never wanted to deprive you of time with Max”.

But since Aug. 2, Kawabata hasn’t replied to any of Morness’s daily emails.

(Kawabata also did not respond to my attempts to reach her via email and through social media.)

The website hasn’t yet resulted in any breakthrough tips. But news of Max’s abduction has been posted on various gamers’ websites, tech eZines and blogs.

 Missing Max: A fathers hunt for his missing sonOver the past three years, Morness has spent close to $80,000 in legal fees getting court orders to ensure that Max would spend half of his vacation time with his dad plus every other weekend in Vancouver and that three times a week, they would connect on Skype.

In March 2012, Kawabata went to court asking for permission to relocate to Japan with Max. The judge ruled that would not be in Max’s best interest.

A year earlier, Morness registered Max in a U.S. state department’s children’s passport issuance alert program for kids at risk of abduction.

Under that program, when a passport application is submitted for a registered child, the department and/or the passport agency must alert the other parent.

But somebody screwed up.

When Max’s passport came up for renewal in March, Morness gave the passport book to Kawabata.

Instead of only applying for a passport book, Kawabata applied for the book and a card, which is valid for American residents travelling to Canada and Mexico.

Regardless, Morness was not notified that Kawabata had applied for the two different travel documents. He found out only after Kawabata gave him Max’s card, but not the passport.

The department admitted the error, but refused to revoke the passport.

“I even went to the border to tell them my story and provided them a copy of all the relevant materials. They did nothing,” says Morness.

“I even asked the court to force her to surrender it, but they [the court] didn’t do it. And then she used it to leave.”

On July 26, Kawabata and Max boarded a plane in San Francisco bound for Tokyo.

Nobody stopped Kawabata. Unlike in Canada, the United States has no exit controls, no requirement for a parent to prove that the other parent is aware that the child is leaving the country.

On Aug. 9, the Superior Court of Washington granted primary custody of Max to Morness and instructed Kawabata to hand Max over to Morness and his passport within 72 hours of returning from Japan.

That’s not likely to happen.

Japan has yet to implement the 33-year-old Hague Convention. It passed the necessary legislation in June, but it is not yet in force.

Morness worries if his son doesn’t return soon, Max may be lost forever.

Without regular contact, the five-year-old might forget him.

Although Max has used Skype almost all his life, he needs help logging on. Max can’t read yet, so he isn’t able to find the website Morness has created, the photos Morness has uploaded to YouTube or respond to an email.

Worse, the longer Max is gone, the more likely it is that he will forget how to speak English. Morness only speaks English, yet it is Max’s third language.

Max’s first language is Japanese. Even though Kawabata was educated at American universities, she speaks only Japanese to Max and, up until last summer when Morness insisted that he go to an English-speaking daycare, Max had been going to one where only Japanese was spoken.

Max’s second language is Spanish, which is the language his nanny spoke to him.

With time working against him, Morness sends Kawabata an email every day requesting a time and date that he can speak Max via Skype.

Every day, he hopes for new information about the police investigation, Kawabata’s location and for news of Max.

Every day, Morness waits and hopes that Kawabata will have a change of heart.

 

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“Please don’t forget that you have two parents”


Source: Phillyburbs.com

Last week Max Troitsky celebrated his daughter’s second birthday with a cake, candles and an empty chair at the table.

Little Julie Troitsky remains somewhere in Russia with her mother, Troitsky’s estranged wife, Anna, who disappeared with their child a few days before Thanksgiving in violation of a child custody order.

In recent weeks, Max Troitsky learned that Anna has filed for divorce in Russia, a move Troitsky’s lawyer suspects is an attempt to establish jurisdiction there for a custody action. In court paperwork, she indicated that she did not know Max’s whereabouts, Troitsky said.

Meanwhile, in Bucks County — where the couple’s divorce proceedings were under way — a judge earlier this month froze all assets in his wife’s name and gave Max Troitsky the legal ability to move and dispose of some marital assets. A judge already awarded Max Troitsky full physical and legal custody of Julie after Anna defied a court order in December to return to the United States.

But it remains to be seen how Russian authorities will handle the existing U.S. custody order. Troitsky and his attorney do not anticipate a quick resolution.

“She has committed no crime in Russia, and the U.S. Embassy has no authority on Russian soil,” Troitsky’s laywer Jeffrey Liebmann said. “It is a real nightmare.”

Troitsky, who divides time between Bensalem and Upper Southampton homes, recently went public with the case, anticipated to be one of Russia’s first tests under the Hague Abduction Convention, which dictates civil aspects of international child abduction.

n October, Russia joined the convention as a partner country, meaning it will honor civil verdicts, such as child custody orders, issued by foreign courts, and return children abducted by a parent.

For now, though, Russian authorities are not under any obligation to assist with enforcing custody orders until it establishes a central authority to oversee compliance with the Hague Convention, Liebmann said.

There also is some skepticism whether Russian courts will comply. Other convention nations, such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico, don’t routinely follow convention provisions.

Russia’s judiciary has a “less than perfect record” for independence and impartiality, and a recent report suggests that judges are open to bribes and other external influences, according to the McGill University blog, “Legal Frontiers.”

The Troitskys, Russian natives and U.S. citizens, were in the process of divorcing following five years of marriage. After the couple separated, Anna, Julie and Anna’s mother, Elena Demyanyuk, continued to live in the family’s Upper Southampton home.

As the divorce and custody cases proceeded, Anna filed a petition seeking court permission to relocate to Moscow, Russia, or Denver, Colo., where her brother lives. In mid-November, a Bucks County judge granted the couple shared legal custody of Julie and denied Anna’s request to relocate to either place.

 

Four days after the final custody order was issued, Anna, Julie and Demyanyuk left the United States without his knowledge or permission, in violation of their custody order, Troitsky said.

Troitsky learned about the divorce filing in Russia from a legal representative he hired in that country. But the proceedings there were continued for a month.

In Russia, couples are first divorced, and everything else, including division of assets and child custody, is handled after that.

Troitsky says he plans to go to Russia once the custody case is under way, which he anticipates could begin in the next six months. At a minimum, he hopes the Russian courts will give him access to his daughter either by Skype, phone or visitation.

Troitsky last spoke to Julie via Skype Nov. 26. In early December, Anna stopped contact. Troitsky said he continues to email her but gets no response.

Last week, Troitsky and his family celebrated Julie’s birthday, something he plans to continue doing until she comes home. He also posted a letter to her on the website he created to bring attention to his custody situation (www.helpbringjuliehome.com).

“While I would do anything to celebrate this important milestone with you in person, sadly, circumstances don’t allow us to celebrate together,” he wrote. “However, on this special day, I want to wish you nothing but laughter, love and happiness in your life! Please don’t forget that you have two parents, and that we both love you, each in our own way.”

Max Troitsky’s letter to his daughter Julie

Dear Julie

Happy birthday, sweetheart! Today you turn 2 years old. While I would do anything to celebrate this important milestone with you in person, sadly, circumstances don’t allow us to celebrate together. However, on this special day, I want to wish you nothing but laughter, love and happiness in your life! Please don’t forget that you have TWO parents, and that we both love you, each in our own way.

As I look back at the last two years, it feels like just two days ago your mom and I brought you home from the hospital, and just yesterday we celebrated your 1st birthday, when you blew out your first candle from your high chair. As you are a year older now, and better able to understand the significance of this day, don’t forget to make a wish before you blow out the candles. If you wish hard enough, your wish will come true!

As you celebrate your birthday with your family in Russia, please remember that you also have a family in the U.S., who loves you and misses you dearly. Because you cannot be here with us, for this important day, your grandparents and I will have to celebrate your birthday without you. We also invited your big teddy bear and your nap-pal Ladybug to join us in singing a happy birthday song for you. They’ve both been asking me about you and wondering when Julie will come home. I wish I had a good answer for them… I just keep telling them that Julie will be back soon, and they understand. In the meantime, they are patiently waiting for you, along with all of your other toys and books.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 73 days since we were separated from each other on November 20, but please know that I am doing everything in my power to fix this and bring you home soon. I also think of you every day… many times a day… and it hurts to know that you’re so far away! But I have faith, and I know in my heart that we will be reunited!

I love you and miss you terribly,

Daddy

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Father searching for abducted daughter


Source: Phillyburbs

The day before Thanksgiving Max Troitsky got a call from his mom asking if he knew that his estranged wife and toddler daughter were visiting Russia.

He didn’t, but should have. Anna Troitsky was not supposed to leave the U.S. with their only child without his permission under their court-ordered custody agreement.

Nearly two months later, the Bensalem man is going public with what had been a private and bitter custody dispute in an effort to convince his wife to bring their daughter home or convince Russian authorities to intervene.

His attorney believes the situation could be Russia’s first test under the Hague Abduction Convention, which dictates civil aspects of International Child Abduction. In October Russia joined the Convention as a partner country, meaning it will honor civil verdicts issued by foreign courts, such as custody orders.

The U.S. State Department has seen a sharp increase in the number of international parental child abductions.

The federal agency had 1,135 reports of international child abductions in fiscal year 2009, and most of the alleged abductions were in Hague Convention partner countries, according to the most recent U.S. Department of State statistics. In 2006, there were 642 international abduction cases.

That same year, 436 children abducted or wrongly retained in foreign countries were returned to the United States, most of the children were returned from countries that are Hague Convention partners with the U.S.

The Troitsky’s custody saga started not long after the couple, both Russia natives, filed for divorce in 2010 after five years of marriage citing irreconcilable differences, according to court papers. At the time, Julie was 7 months old.

After the couple separated, Troitsky moved to Bensalem and Anna, Julie and mother-in-law Elena Demyanyuk continued to live in the family’s Upper Southampton home.

As the divorce and custody cases proceeded through the courts, Anna filed a petition seeking court permission to relocate to either Moscow, Russia, or Denver, Colorado, where her brother lives.

Troitsky says Anna, who came to the U.S. shortly before they married, often fought his efforts to get more visitations and overnight stays with their daughter.

“What parent doesn’t want to spend time with your child,” he said. “It was painful to me, painful to my parents, who rarely see their grandchild.”

In mid-November, though, a Bucks County judge issued custody order granting the couple shared legal custody of Julie. Anna had primary physical custody and Troitsky partial physical custody including weekends, overnight and weekday dinners. The judge also denied Anna’s request to relocate to either Russia or Denver, according to court papers.

Troitsky claims Anna only started talking about wanting to return to Russia after the divorce was filed, but he never anticipated his wife would violate the custody order.

“I certainly had no idea they were contemplating this,” he said.

The Courier Times was unsuccessful in reaching Montgomery County attorney Matthew F. Fox who is listed in court records as representing Anna Troitsky in her divorce and custody cases.

Four days after the final custody order was issued, though, Anna, Elena and Julie secretly left the U.S., Troitsky said.

Newtown Township attorney Jeff Leibmann, who represents Troitsky, believes Anna was able to leave the U.S. with Julie, who did not have a U.S. passport because she added her name to her Russian passport. Russia allows its citizens to add the names of children to the passports of parents.

Two days after arriving in Moscow, Elena told Troitsky’s mom in a phone call the three were in Moscow for a few days visiting Anna’s sick father.

Elena allegedly claimed that when Anna and Julie tried to return to the U.S. they were turned away at the airport because of a passport issue with Julie. She said Troitsky had to send a consent letter showing he authorized her to leave the U.S. with Julie, as required by their custody agreement.

The next day, when Troitsky reached Anna on the phone, she assured him she planned to return with Julie, but she also wanted a guarantee that she wouldn’t face criminal charges for taking their daughter out of the country.

Troitsky says he agreed not to pursue legal action. He made Anna an appointment at the U.S. embassy in Russia to start the process to get Julie a passport but she didn’t show up, Troitsky said.

Two days later, on Nov. 26, Troitsky said, Anna told him that she decided she wanted to stay longer in Russia. During that conversation, Troitsky spent a few minutes with Julie on Skype. It was the last time he saw or spoke to her, he says.

Within days, Troitsky says his suspicions that Anna had no plans to return were confirmed.

After he visited the Upper Southampton home, he discovered most of Anna and Julie’s clothes and personal belongings including family photos were gone. All the joint legal documents, including the deed to the house and title were gone, as were the car keys. He learned she quit her job after arriving in Moscow.

“It was clear she had no intention of ever coming back,” he said.

Troitsky and Anna had their last phone conversation three days before an emergency custody hearing was scheduled in Bucks County Court, he said. She told him she didn’t know when she’d return to the U.S.

At that hearing, a Bucks County judge ordered Anna to return to the U.S. with Julie within seven days, otherwise full physical and legal custody would be transferred to Troitsky.

But as far as he knows the three remain in Russia, most likely Moscow.

The U.S. embassy in Russia has been providing updates to Troitsky, but there hasn’t been much to report recently. The embassy has not had much success reaching Anna and Elena and even if they do, they can only encourage her to return, Leibmann said.

The embassy also has reached out to the Russian authorities for help finding Julie, but they are not under any obligation to help find her until Russia establishes a Central Authority to oversee compliance with the Hague Convention.

Troitsky said there is no reason his estranged wife should want to limit his access to Julie. There are no abuse allegations or evidence in any of the custody trial or related investigation. A check of county court records shows no protection from abuse orders filed against either Troitsky.

At this point, Anna may believe that she will be arrested if she returns, Troitsky said, adding he is not interested in pursuing criminal charges. The Upper Southampton police and the FBI have been notified about the situation to get Julie’s photos added to Interpol and U.S. law enforcement databases.

To get his daughter’s face, and his story, into the public eye, Troitsky and his supporters have created a Web site, called “Help Bring Julie Home.”

Troitsky says he has been on an emotional rollercoaster and he has spent many sleepless nights wondering about his child. He misses their special “father-daughter kind of moments.”

“At this point all I want to say is bring Julie back, come back with her, we’ll figure out the details of the custody,” he said. “Taking a child away from a father is not an option.”

In a few weeks Julie turns 2. The most time passes without contact with his daughter, the more Troitsky worries.

“She is probably starting to forget me,” he said.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

Greece/UK – Arrest warrant issued for mother out on bail


By Bejay Browne


Paphos police yesterday issued an arrest warrant for a British woman who appears to have jumped bail and absconded with her young son for a second time.

Sarah Antoniou, 39, who was last year accused of plotting to hire two hitmen to kill her estranged husband, Andros, was also facing trial for previously absconding with five-year-old Alex.

She was recently released from prison in Nicosia after Attorney-general Petros Clerides, reviewed the case and reduced the attempted murder charge to a lesser conspiracy charge, enabling her to be released on bail after British MEP Stuart Agnew intervened to help.

The 37-year-old’s troubles began when her marriage to a Cypriot broke down and she returned to England with their then four-year-old son, Alex, for what she claimed to be medical treatment. This was treated as kidnapping by the Cypriot authorities, and she had to return Alex to the island. She is still facing charges relating to this incident.

According to her lawyer at the time, there were certain stipulations associated with her release on bail. These included being unable to leave the country, reporting regularly to Paphos police station and surrendering her travel documents, including her passport, to the police.

She was to have shown up at the police station on Tuesday but failed to appear.

Her distraught estranged husband Andros Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: “This has gone too far now, this is the second time she has taken Alex; Sarah needs help and I just want my son back. I am appealing to the public to help me find him.”

According to Andros, his ex wife reported to the police station at 9am on Tuesday morning as required. He then saw her at court at 10.30am, for the case relating to the first alleged kidnapping of their son.

The ongoing case was again adjourned, as the accused woman said she had parted ways with her previous lawyer and needed time to brief her new one. She then picked up her son, who is now aged five, from school in Kissonerga and has not been seen since.

“She was supposed to return Alex to me at 6pm, but she didn’t. I have no idea where she is and no one; family or friends seem to have any more information,” said her ex husband.

The previous kidnap charges relate to an incident where Sarah Antoniou allegedly took her son to the UK via the north, despite the fact that he was on the stop list. She was forced to return him to Cyprus after an intervention by the British court.

Andros said that when Sarah didn’t show up on Tuesday, he contacted the police.

“We went to where she had been staying in Chlorokas, but Sarah and my son had vanished.”

According to Andros, his ex wife sold her car more than a month ago and had been driving a hire car since then. “She recently changed this to a bigger vehicle and this too has disappeared. I spoke to the rental company who obviously want their car back.”

Andros said that the passport number Sarah had written on the rental agreement was not that of her current passport and believes this may be a clue for police.

He said: “ A couple of weeks ago Alex came home and told me he had decided to call himself Max, and now I’m wondering if Sarah had been plotting to change their names all along.”

Sarah and Alex are both on the stop list.

Andros has been in contact with members of Sarah’s family who say they have no idea where she is. In addition, Sarah’s aunt had put up her apartment as a guarantee to meet the conditions of her bail.

“Her aunt was panicking, as her apartment has been used for collateral for Sarah’s bail,” said Andros. He said he would be contacting the Attorney-general.

“I want him to do whatever it takes to get Alex back. It’s his fault that Sarah was allowed to be in a position to do this again,” he said. ”She’s out on bail and now she is a wanted criminal.”

Andros says he’s now waiting for the police to inform him what course of action they will take.

The head of Paphos CID, Klitos Erotoklitou said yesterday: “We have made the ports and airports aware that both the mother and son are not permitted to leave Cyprus.”

Erotoklitou confirmed that police have Sarah’s current passport in their possession.

The Cyprus Mail contacted Stuart Agnew, currently in Europe, who pushed for Sarah’s release from prison whilst awaiting trail to inform him that Sarah appeared to have vanished.

He said: “I’m aware that she felt there were problems with her social worker but I urged her to play the game. She has stepped out of line before and this is not the news I wanted to hear, if in fact she has absconded.”

Agnew pointed out that there is a ‘huge bond between a mother and child, which can lead to individuals taking desperate measures.’  He said: “I can’t read Sarah’s mind but she obviously felt that she would lose her son and if she has left, she has done the wrong thing.”

Agnew pointed out that Sarah’s actions were covered by the Hague convention and that if she didn’t re appear, she would be a “wanted woman”.

Facebook: Help find Alex Antoniou

 

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