4 of the Sleaziest Child Abduction Tactics

Make no mistake about it. Parents who kidnap their children are self-centred, controlling, and high-handed. The very act of surreptitiously spiriting a child away from his or her home and primary parent requires a callous indifference to principles of common decency, a lack of respect for authority, and an ignorance of or a blatant disregard for the harm a child suffers.

An international treaty called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction exists to assist parents to locate children who have been kidnapped by their other parent. However, for the Convention to work, the country from where the child has been abducted and the country where the child has been taken, must both be signatories to the Convention.

Eighty-six countries have signed the Convention, although some governments give only lip service to the enforcement powers of this law. Where the Convention does not apply, the journey to affect a child’s return is much more onerous.

As a lawyer who frequently represents the “left-behind” parent, the tricks and tactics employed by parent abductors are best described as “sleazy”. Consider these four scenarios drawn from recent court cases in Vancouver, British Columbia:

1. You Can Trust Me, Honest

In this case the child’s mother feared that her estranged husband would abduct their young son, but had no concrete proof, just her well-honed mother’s intuition. The child’s father picked up his son to take him to the zoo for an outing. When he arrived to pick up his son, he assuaged his wife’s concerns by making a show of cutting up his son’s passport in front of her to convince her he would never remove his son from their country of residence and now, he had no passport for the child to travel internationally.

Of course, it was all a ruse. Instead of going to the zoo, the father took his son to the airport and flew to Canada. The passport he had destroyed was the child’s expired passport. He used the child’s new passport to board the plane.

2. I Have a Travel Authorization

In these post-9/11 days, it is impossible to travel internationally without a passport and for a person travelling alone with a child it is de rigueur to also have a travel authorization signed by the child’s other parent.

The authorization typically indicates who the child is, who the parents are, where the child will be travelling, and when the child is expected to be returned to his home country or state.

In the underground world of child abduction forged travel authorizations are the rule, not the exception.

In a recent case, a mother who fled with her daughter from Japan to Canada used a legitimate travel authorization she had retained from an earlier trip, played around with white-out, added a paragraph that said she had permission from her estranged spouse to enroll the child in school in Canada and did just that.

The young girl’s father hired a lawyer in Vancouver to go to Court to obtain an order that the child be returned to Japan. The child’s mother waved her travel authorization in front of the judge and argued she had her husband’s consent.

The only problem was that the authorization had obviously been tampered with and the mother signed her husband’s name on the authorization in Japanese characters, rather than in English, which was how he usually signed his name.

3. Catch Me if You Can

In a case from Tennessee, a 12-year-old girl who was in her father’s custody was kidnapped by her mother. The child’s father was a state police officer and had country-wide connections as a member of the “thin-blue-line”.

Luckier than most left-behind parents, the father obtained intelligence that his daughter and ex-wife were travelling across North America, staying in “safe houses” known only to women who go underground with their children.

After many months of searching for his daughter, this father received information that mother and daughter were in Vancouver and would be attending at Immigration Canada offices in Vancouver to advance their claims for refugee status. The information even included the date and time of the refugee hearing.

The father had a custody order from Tennessee that was used to obtain a custody order in favour of the father in Vancouver and an order the child’s mother be arrested and the child taken to the Ministry of Family and Children, until she was returned to her home.

At the appointed time, I showed up at the refugee office with three strapping Vancouver Police officers in tow. Mom was arrested but bailed out and her daughter was picked up by her paternal grandfather.

The flight to Tennessee was delayed, however, when someone called in a bomb threat related to the girl’s flight. That was mother’s last trick.

Did this case have a happy ending? Unfortunately not, because the young girl, now 14-years-old, stayed in Tennessee for about two months and then disappeared.

4. Talk to Me

In another case, a young boy was abducted from Mexico and ended up in Vancouver. The left-behind parent once again hired a Vancouver lawyer to seek the return of her son. Pending a court hearing to deal with the matter, the child’s mother obtained a court order allowing her to telephone her son each evening to speak with him.

The boy’s father was incensed and made the nightly telephone calls very difficult for his wife. When he saw that he was losing ground and his case looked dismal, he pulled a fast one. He fled Vancouver to parts unknown but to fool his son’s mother, he recorded his son’s voice on an answering machine so that when his mother called she would be lulled into thinking he was still in Vancouver.

These scenarios are but a smattering of the lengths some parents will go to avoid justice. It’s not that these parents don’t understand the collateral damage to their children, they simply don’t care. Life is all about their needs.

Parental child abduction is the worst kind of child abuse and parents who run with their children should be subject to criminal charges and imprisonment.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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10 thoughts on “4 of the Sleaziest Child Abduction Tactics

  1. Georgialee,

    As a parent who was falsely accused of abducting my own child some years ago, and as an advisor now to dozens of parents who are alleged to have abducted their children, I can say that “sleazy tactics” are not the exclusive domain of one parent or the other. The tactics of so-called “left-behind” parents are often just as deserving of censure as the ones you describe.

    Permit me please to round out your list with a few of the “sleazy” tactics of the “left-behind” parent:

    1. I am my child’s legal custodian.

    “Left-behind” parents tend to obtain dubious child custody orders in their favor. These orders are often issued post hoc by courts of questionable jurisdictional authority. Almost invariably they are secured without a fair hearing of the affected child or the child’s physical carer. They are frequently issued in the context of ex parte proceedings without actual notice being provided to the other parent.

    The parent with the dubious child custody order employs it primarily to threaten the child’s carer(s). Sometimes this is a continuation of abuse that the “left-behind” parent heaped on the other during their relationship.

    The “left-behind” parent may also leverage the dubious order to gain the support of local prosecutors, judges and child-welfare organizations. The Holy Grail of the “left-behind” parent is the arrest warrant that can be issued and executed against a child’s carer(s) before the targeted parent can mount his or her defense in support of the child’s best interests.

    In one well-known case, a father was following a child custody order issued in his favor by a court in Tennessee. The Tennessee court was the authoritative court in that child’s case: it had issued the divorce of the parents and had explicitly retained jurisdiction over their child custody dispute in the ensuing years. However, unsatisfied with the legal status quo, the “left-behind” mother relocated to Pennsylvania, where she subsequently obtained a competing custody order in her favor. The father was then charged with parental abduction and arrested abroad while traveling on business. The arrest was timed and executed in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible for him to retain his child pursuant to the Tennessee order. As soon as the father was arrested, the mother flew into the country where the “missing” child was living to demand his “return”. Isn’t that “sleazy”?

    The use of dubious criminal proceedings solely to influence the outcome of a civil dispute entails a serious abuse of power. Thankfully, this “sleazy” strategy doesn’t always work. With his good documentation and international legal team, the father from Tennessee successfully defended against a baseless American request for his extradition, the mother’s request was denied, and their child remains in his care to this day.

    With respect to the civil dispute over my own child’s custody, it took me six years to obtain a definitive decision proving that her mother was relying on child custody orders issued by courts without the necessary jurisdiction to do so. I even sued the U.S. Department of State to obtain the records proving that she had knowingly adopted this “sleazy” strategy of the “left-behind” parent.

    I would advise your readers to question the validity of any child custody order that appears to have been issued in favor of a “left-behind” parent without a fair hearing of the child or the child’s actual carer. Such orders are often a lot less authoritative than they look.

    2. My child is missing!

    It never ceases to amaze me how many “left-behind” parents will falsely claim that they don’t know where their child lives.

    There are over a hundred documented cases of missing child fraud worldwide, but the documented cases are just the tip of the iceberg. My best estimate of the number of cases of children who had been falsely advertised on the Internet to be “missing” as of 1 June 2011 is 565, give-or-take a few dozen. That’s a lot of not-truly-missing kids!

    This “sleazy tactic” of the “left-behind” parent — to falsely claim that his or her children are missing — is employed for various reasons: to hurt the targeted parent, to raise money from an unknowing public, and especially to goad law enforcement authorities into acting on the “left-behind” parent’s behalf.

    I was the first parent to push back hard against missing child fraud. My child’s mother has been convicted six times and sentenced to nearly four years in jail for falsely representing that our child was missing. Even the President and CEO of the American National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC USA), Mr. Ernie Allen, is facing criminal charges in Greece stemming from his role in the fraud. (The first charge will be heard on 1 December, and the second on 13 December 2011.) He is also facing charges related to missing child fraud in Italy and Romania, and more countries will be coming aboard soon.

    I have personally met dozens of children who are supposedly being “sought” by Interpol or other police authorities. Are the police really so incompetent that they cannot find these kids? No. Law enforcement knows where these children are located, but the children cannot be “recovered” because their physical carers are acting within their legal rights in their home country. They are not criminals, and their children are definitely not missing.

    By the way, many of these children are in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention like the United Kingdom, where it cannot be said that there is any particular problem with the convention’s implementation.

    3. The other parent is abusive.

    Surely you won’t be surprised to hear about this “sleazy” tactic.

    The claim is always self-serving, and it is usually false. Arguably I have met more parents who are alleged to have “kidnapped” their children than anyone else. I can attest to the fact that their care arrangements are typically carefully scrutinized by local authorities, who invariably want to avoid being accused of colluding with a true child abuser.

    It can even be said that the carers of children claimed by a “left-behind” parent are among the best vetted carers of all. Were they truly abusive, the children would have been removed from their care.

    If “parental abduction is the grossest form of child abuse”, as you say, then it can only be called child abuse after the allegation is proven in a court of law. But most accusations of parental abduction never lead to prosecution, often because the evidence does not suffice to support a conviction.

    A simple allegation of parental abduction is insufficient, by itself, to support the notion that the targeted parent is abusive.

    Can there be a “sleazier” tactic than a completely self-serving lie?

    4. I would act differently towards the other parent if I had the child in my care.

    Almost all “left-behind” parents claim that they would permit the other parent (and his or her family) to have a good relationship with their child(ren), if they were in charge. Almost none of them will.

    In case after case where children were given to a “left-behind” parent, the other parent was subsequently removed, often entirely, from their lives. Yet “left-behind” parents regularly argue that they will be altruistic and act in their children’s best interests to secure a good and continuing relationship between those children and the other parent. Their legal advisors invariably advise “left-behind” parents to make this argument. After all, what court wants to hear that one parent will give the other “their just deserts”?

    Their commitment lasts only until the children are placed in their care; that is to say, their commitment is rarely for real.

    Except where mental illness plays a role in the acts of a child’s carer, the “left-behind” parent is rarely an entirely innocent bystander to events. “It takes two to tango”, goes the saying, and so it is here as well. Few people take unilateral action to protect their kids without having serious reasons to do so.

    It often takes a lot of courage to do what is right for one’s children. When doing the right thing comes at great personal cost, the act of taking appropriate protective measures cannot possibly be narcissistic.

    To paraphrase what you said at the bottom of your post, reflecting it on the typical “left-behind” parent:

    These scenarios are but a smattering of the lengths some parents will go to pervert justice. It’s not that these parents don’t understand the collateral damage to their children, they simply don’t care. Life is all about their needs.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Emmanuel Lazaridis, Ph.D.
    Statistician / Legal Professional

  2. Love this blog! You say every little thing that I’m thinking and a lot more. You’ve definitely shed light on a subject that not many individuals can argue with. Truly impressed.

  3. Max Troitsky, a Russian-speaking US Citizen from Pennsylvania is in a sad situation. His estranged wife ( Anna Troitsky a.k.a. Anna Demyanyuk ), a US-Russian dual citizen illegally abducted their US-born US-citizen toddler daughter Julie Troitsky in late November 2011, against the US Court Order, and all the details of this bizarre and unfortunate case are here:

    http://www.HelpBringJulieHome.com (site in English and Russian)
    and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HelpBringJulieHome
    and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BringJulieHome

    Thank you for the help, leads and following of this case…

  4. Georgialee,
    I found Mr Lazaridis’ post to be a distasteful and irresponsible defense of international child abduction with silly, non legal arguments. For example, that because local authorities at the place of relocation do not help the foreign parent, he says this is evidence that things are ok and the child should not be returned. (Seriously, this is just an invitation to abduct and is what he says.) He seems to oppose the principles of the Hague convention and would just leave things with local courts.
    He angrily blames left-behind parents as being responsible for abductions. He claims to be a statistician but gives no statistics, ignoring studies showing abductors have high co-morbity with mental illness and personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder. Any professional in the field with repeat experience in abductions can attest to this.
    Talk about sleazy.
    I googled his name and, I guess not surprisingly, Mr Lazaridis is an international child abductor himself.
    Hmmmm…. While I can’t opine in his personal case, the fact that he is pursuing criminal charges against the director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is by itself a statement about him.
    Please take down his self-serving, hurtful and potentially damaging post, which appears to sell his services in aiding and abetting international child abductions. Not exactly a good use of your excellent blog.
    Please delete his comment promoting his aid to child abductions.
    Alex

    1. In bc
      I personally have been lost in the blurry laws.

      My child is missing but there was no amber alert no police assistence.

      Thank you for your rebutting .

      His comments made it seam like it’s even easy to prove a parent abducted I the first place.
      Shouldn’t it be the child holding parent have it be manditory to prove they did not abduct. That their moving away &name change and communication haulting be a mutual desision.
      In child protection cases it’s guilty until proven innocent to protect the child .

  5. Georgialee,

    Further to my previous email, here is just one example of the information available about this charlatan. I had never heard of him before but he sounds like a truly hideous human being, if that fact was not already obvious by his comment mocking your post.

    I hope you will delete his comment instead of letting this creep use your website to promote himself and the crime of child abduction.

    http://justiceforsage.blogspot.com/2010/10/emmanuel-lazaridis-and-ideology-of.html

    “Amazingly though, the almost universal justification (as given by the abductors themselves) for such abuse of children, is that it is committed precisely out of an altruistic desire to protect the children — a hypocrisy directly analogous to a murderer claiming to be healer or a thief claiming to be a philanthropist.

    I can think of few better examples of precisely these narcissistic and sadistic personalities than that of Emmanuel Lazaridis. Emmanuel aka Manny or Manolo is wanted in the United States and France for criminal charges arising out of the abduction of his daughter Varvara from her custodial mother in Michigan. After abducting the young girl from her mother’s care in the United States amidst ongoing custody proceedings he was unsatisfied with, he took her to the Dominican Republic. Though not exactly known for their scruples and effective rule of law, even the Dominican Republic denied his request for a divorce and custody decision. A fugitive in the United States and France, Mr. Lazaridis then took his daughter to Greece where, though born and raised in the United States, he had a claim to dual Greek citizenship and was granted amnesty and custody of the kidnapped child in direct violation of the spirit and letter of international law, near universal family law norms and just plain common human decency and justice. Greece actually has an established history of exactly this type of behavior. Almost anyone with a claim to Greek citizenship can effectively kidnap children that they may have no legal rights to in the country and jurisdiction of the child’s only home and spirit them to Greece with impunity because Greece, in spite of having signed the international Hague Convention on child abduction, will generally not return kidnapped children, nor extradite the kidnapper.

    Although narcissism, hypocrisy and specious claims of child advocacy are par for the course with international child abductors, Mr. Lazardis represents, not only an excellent example of this archetype, but also an extremely public one. Discontent with merely abusing his daughter and destroying her mother he has waged a public campaign to denigrate victimized parents, encourage child abduction and attack organizations that assist abducted children. Alternatively using his own name along with various alter-egos like “the Secretariat” and “Micheal MacDonald”, Manny has created a fake children’s rights institution, the “National Centre for Genuinely Missing in Europe Children,” with a staff, board and employee count of exactly one — while claiming the majority of his supporters are anonymous. The organization’s initials just happen to also be “NCMEC” in parody of the “National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to the protection of children. As if misappropriating the NCMEC’s initials were not enough he also registered the “charities” Internet domain as http://ncmec.eu in a clear case of cybersquatting and violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of ’99. As if these blatant violations were not enough a quick look at the actual site http://ncmec.eu/ shows that it has completely stolen the design and layout of the site http://ncmec.or/ violating a whole host of other trademark and copyright laws — all of which, of course, he does “in the name of children.”

  6. I completely agree with Alex about Mr. Lazaridis. I found his post was darkly arrogant and self-serving. Parental abduction is serious business, and many courts turn a blind eye to risk factors and history, resulting in lax custody/visitation orders.

    I have one more sleazy tactic to add to the list: My ex and I live across the U.S. from each other. He obtained a full custody order by default in a third state via fraudulent service of process and by providing the court with a false address for me. I was not served and received no mail from the court or his attorney concerning the case so, unaware of it, I did not appear for the trial and he won by default. He then came to our state under the guise of a visit (still mentioning nothing about the case), and absconded with her to his home. After obtaining orders in all 3 states, she was returned to me—before he was able to get her out of the country (his ultimate goal), but it was a huge financial undertaking and an emotional nightmare for my daughter and me. He is still a foreign national and continues to fight for custody, as his narcissism demands, and I am floored that the current court and GAL are so dismissive about his multiple risk factors for likelihood to abduct again. Sigh…….

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