In the United States, a witness in court must take an oath that goes, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" If Sean's Brazilian relatives* had to take this oath every time they spoke to the media, God would cringe.
After an incredible amount of he said-she said being thrown around by Globo, I'm going to go on the record here and say that there are not two sides to the Goldman case. There is one: Sean was kidnapped. Period. Most of the information that has come from the kidnappers' camp, only recently released to the media, has been blatant lies, and sickeningly enough, Globo has lapped it up like a starving dog. And sadly enough, a lot of people have believed them. The propaganda continues as the families go boo-hooing to Globo, including the infamous "reporter" I wrote about earlier this week, who had the nerve to write a story entitled "I'm Sean's mother now," an interview with Sean's grandmother that I have not had the stomach to read in its entirety yet.
So I'm going to provide you with some useful information, since I've talked to a number of intelligent, rational people in Rio who have completely bought the stepfather's PR campaign, and that's simply unacceptable.
*names have been changed here due to "secrecy of justice" that they so obstinately demand.
First, I'm including the respective letters from Sean's stepfather and David's lawyer's rebuttal, in English and Portuguese (after the jump). I practically wanted to add a little "toma!!" at the end of Patricia's letter, but I refrained.
I've been astounded to see how people accept whatever people say on or in Globo as gospel, because if it's on the news, it "must be true." Unfortunately, that is absolutely not the case with the Goldman story. The Lies e Snakes and Boboianchi families remind me a lot of the Flat Earth Society. This group firmly stands by the belief that the Earth is flat, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They actually provide what they consider to be "proof" of its flatness based on math and physics, though it's a scientific fact that the Earth is round. (Meanwhile, David, like most of the world's scientists, have overwhelming, physical proof and witnesses on their side). The two families seem to believe they didn't and aren't committing a crime, and that they actually are in the right! The Flat Earthers would welcome them with open arms.
If the LeS announced the sky was green, Globo would release the headline: "O CÉU É VERDE, DIZ ADVOGADO." Would you buy that kind of headline? Keep that in mind next time you hear about the case from Globo.
Next, I'd like to say that I was thoroughly unimpressed by Fantastico's coverage of the case, and I think all the hand-holding and back-patting is unnecessary. Yes, it could have been a lot worse, but it was still biased nonetheless. The media is supposed to be impartial and to discover the truth. Globo happens to be really terrible at this, but that doesn't mean they deserve a medal for getting it half-right. Many newcomers to the case were very convinced by Sean's grandmother, and I'm not surprised. The first part of the segment was great, but the strategic placement of the interviews, putting the grandmother last, who made the accusations, and David first, who responded to them, was completely illogical and totally manipulative. While David showed physical, legal proof of his declarations, the grandma couldn't produce a single one. However, the tough questions were given to David while the grandmother was babied, which made it seem like she had to be right, especially since they gave her the last word. Videos after the jump.
Here, I'd like to answer some frequently asked questions.
1. Does David really sell tee-shirts, mugs, hats, and aprons with Sean's face on them?
Like I told the reporter who admitted to not "fully researching the story" about Sean in Epoca, it's insanely easy to find out the answer to this question. First, you can look on the BSH website, and then you can try Google. You'll probably find this "I love Brazil" apron and this generic name mug. Good luck finding ones with Sean Goldman!
2. Was David abusive?
In Bruna's Brazilian divorce proceedings, she made no accusations against David of being abusive in any way. In fact, she said he was the greatest father Sean could have. In addition, David was awarded full custody in New Jersey, and the court demanded Sean's immediate return. It never happened.
3. Did David really never try to see his son for five years?
David has been trying to see his son ever since he was kidnapped. Unfortunately, Bruna wouldn't let him see Sean unless he agreed to settling things outside of the courts, which he refused to do, since he could risk losing his son. Once he filed the Hague Convention application, he couldn't visit his son without permission from the courts, since an "off the records" visit would "negate" the kidnapping. So unlike Bruna, he did everything the legal, painful, and selfless way, through the slow, archane Brazilian courts, which made Bruna very angry. [Note here: David received death threats soon after he decided to go to court to get Sean back. Interesting coincidence, no?)
David was denied access to Sean from then on by the family (phone calls, gifts, later even emails, let alone visitation) and was shut out by the courts until 2008. Even when Bruna died in August, JPLeS was awarded custody of Sean and David, Sean's real father, was shut out yet again. But then, last October, David received a court order to see his son, and JP Lies e Snakes fled the city with Sean, even though it is evident he was informed by his lawyers of the visitation. An "ordinary" Brazilian citizen would be arrested for disobeying a court order. Nobody, including the courts and the Federal Police, even blinked an eye. Meanwhile, David finally was able to see his son for the first time in January, and said it was the best moment since Sean was born.
4. The American media is biased because it never gave the Brazilian family a chance to speak. They deserve to be heard, too.
The American media, as well as the Brazilian media until a week or so ago, attempted to contact the Brazilian relatives who refused to speak about the case, claiming it was protected by the secrecy of justice. Like good journalists, they tried to get a second opinion, which was denied each and every time to each and every reporter. In fact, the LeS imposed a media ban and ran around Brazil shutting down all of the stories about the case, like TV Record's coverage, amongst others, since October 2008. They even tried to sue David for "revealing Sean's image" and attempted to make David force all of the American media sources to retract their stories about the case! (Fail) That's why many Brazilians haven't heard about this case until now--now, nearly five months later, when the family began to lose the battle of public opinion have they decided to "speak."
They've essentially made an apology for kidnapping and felonies, mostly in the name of wealth and power. Did anyone care what Alexandre Nardoni had to say for himself? Murder and child abduction are both serious crimes punishable by law. Though Nardoni deprived Isabella's mother of her child forever, Bruna's family also deprived David of his child, luckily not for life, but still for nearly half a decade, and half of his childhood.
Finally, Eli put commentary in Portuguese on the Fantastico video interview with Grandma Boboianchi. Have a look here.
Fantastico interview videos and battle of the letters after the jump.
To the National Council of Children and Adolescent Rights
Even though I graduated more than ten years ago from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica’s Law School, I write these words to you not as a militant lawyer but as the father of two beloved children and as a 35 year-old widower. For this reason, I’m writing to you in an informal way in which my reasons are presented emotionally, since I couldn’t function as a lawyer without reason and without just reason.
I lived with and was officially married to Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro Lins e Silva for four and a half years.
Bruna studied Communication at PUC-Rio. After she graduated she did her Masters in Fashion in Milan, Italy. At the end of her last course, after four long years there, she met a North American named David George Goldman, who was living in the same building where Bruna lived and was working there as a model. After a few months of meeting each other, they began to date, in a long-distance relationship, since the North American lived in the United States and wasn’t available and wasn’t asked to do runway shows as frequently, due to his age.
The relationship lasted a few months. During this time Bruna traveled to the United States and Canada with her American boyfriend.
Two months after returning to Milan, Bruna discovered she was pregnant with her North American boyfriend’s child, who was conceived during the trip to Canada. Bruna told her boyfriend and her family. Since the contact between the two were rare due to the distance between them, and with her desire to be a mother growing, Bruna decided to give up Europe and moved to New Jersey, in the United States, with the purpose to give her child the chance to have a family.
Bruna, unfortunately, couldn’t imagine the suffering that she would soon experience.
Here I will explain some very personal facts that only a husband or close friends could actually know.
The relationship that worked well long-distance until then became a tragedy. The boyfriend, that would become a husband on account of the pregnancy, didn’t touch his wife anymore. During her pregnancy, even during their honeymoon, which would happen later with Bruna pregnant, there were no intimate relations between the couple.
During the last three years of living together, Bruna slept in a separate room from her ex-husband. She was anguished, in a deep depression, and cried every day. Fights were common and watched by little Sean, who was born in 2000 in the US but registered in the Brazilian Consulate and by the First Civil Registry of Naturalized Persons of Rio de Janeiro. It’s important to point out that this registry with the Brazilian Consulate took place three months after Sean’s birth, making him a Brazilian citizen like all of us, with all of the rights and obligations of a citizen born in Brazil, and when he becomes a legal adult he can opt to be Brazilian or American. Until then he has both nationalities, without one overpowering the other or without him being more Brazilian than American or vice versa.
David, at that point, because of his age, couldn’t find any work and rarely earned any money. He stayed home practically all day, concerned about building and fixing the house. Bruna worked all day long giving Italian classes in elementary schools and she was the one who put food on the table and handled all of the general costs of living. However, knowing about the situation, Bruna’s family helped by sending money to the family so they could have a dignified life.
Even their health insurance was paid for by Bruna, since her ex-husband wasn’t making any money. They lived in a world of appearances, where for some they had a great life, but inside the home it was hell.
The situation got to be so bad that at one point Sean, who was almost four, called his maternal grandmother, very sad, and told her that his mom didn’t like him anymore because she was out all day, and his dad was the only one who liked him, because he took care of him. He asked her to keep his secret. Asked who would have said such a barbarity to a child, Sean responded it was David.
Shaken, the maternal grandmother told her daughter about this sad incident. Bruna, who was already in Brazil with Sean on vacation, decided to end the marriage, which hadn’t really existed for more than four years. She was unhappy, depressed, had a lazy husband who didn’t want his wife since she was pregnant, and found herself forced to work all day long just to sustain her family.
She decided not to return to the United States and to end her unhappy marriage.
She called her ex-husband, told him she was unhappy, that she didn’t want to ever go back, and offered him a plane ticket to come immediately to Brazil so they could talk and work everything out. That didn’t happen. The American rejected the plane tickets, a place to stay, and said he’d never set foot in Brazil.
Bruna, without any other alternative, looked for information about a lawyer specializing in her situation. Immediately, and during the authorized period of time given to Bruna by the American to stay in Brazil with her son, appeared in Brazilian Court and asked for custody of Sean, which was quickly granted.
The American, meanwhile, wasn’t interested in speaking to Bruna amicably anymore. He went to a law office in Sao Paulo and months after Bruna left, filed an action alleging international child abduction!! But he didn’t know if the mother would ask for ransom, or even where she was. The theory of asking for ransom would come true, but on the opposite side, which will be explained shortly.
In this case in the Family Court in Rio, the American rightly contested the request. He lost the first time and appealed to the State Court. He was unsuccessful again. He tried going to the STJ, where he was not accepted and was unable to appeal again, closing the case.
During the ongoing case in the Federal Court, of which the American is the person responsible, he lost the first case, then the second case, and then again he lost in the Superior Court of Justice, where he was made to understand that the law rules in the interest of the minor, and in this case, that he would stay in Brazil with his mother.
At this point, it’s important to open up.
I met Bruna again through a mutual friend from college right after she returned to the US. At that time I was separated from my first wife.
We had similar stories, we weren’t happy in our marriages for a few similar reasons and maybe through this life experience we understood each other very well.
In less than six months after we met again, we were living together. And I never imagined how happy I could be at Bruna’s side.
For a reason that can be explained, life brought us together three times, and without the first two we never could have really been together. The third time we were certain that we were made for each other, to be together forever.
Bruna told me all the time that I was “the husband she chose.” We loved each other the whole time and there was never a moment of sadness.
Sean had a more than special participation in our lives. Ever since our first meeting we made sure he would accept the situation. He was the one who brought the first Valentine’s gift for me, spontaneously. My relationship with Bruna would never be above or could be compared to the relationship between mother and son, and because of this we did everything in the best way possible thinking about Sean’s well-being.
We were very involved together as a family, so it was natural that Sean began to call me DAD. It was his personal wish, and I received this gift with lots of pride and endearment. Our relationship, aside from nomenclature, was like a father and son: I always went to the parents’ meetings at his school, we did his homework together, I put him to bed, common things between parents and children.
And I did it for love. Sean is the son I never had from my first marriage. Our relationship has always been very strong, one of conversation, of love, of learning, of orientation, support, and protection.
From the first day we spent together and decided to become a family, it became my exclusive obligation to support my family financially. I became responsible to pay for the costs of the maid, food, housing, school, and leisure. We always went on vacation. Sean was able to see Europe at my side, and to be enchanted by Paris and Eurodisney.
We had the best family in the world for four and a half long years, one where everything was love, hugs, and respect. There were never any fights, any crying, not a single moment of unhappiness.
Bruna, who also registered her marriage to the North American in Brazil, asked for a divorce in the Brazilian court, an act in line with the law. The American was formally notified by a judicial official in Brasilia. Bruna divorced and we were finally able to officially marry. Our wedding took place on September 1, 2007.
At our wedding, a marriage certificate was signed by Bruna, me, and witnesses, as the law states, but in a pure act of spontaneity, Sean asked to sign it too, which really moved us, and it’s on the legal certification as can be proved by photos from the wedding. Sean was there and witnessed and approved our union.
Four months after the wedding, Bruna got pregnant again. I would have liked her to get pregnant sooner, but she questioned it, saying this time she would like to be pregnant after being formally married so they wouldn’t think she was just getting married because she was pregnant.
Bruna had a perfect pregnancy without any apparent problems. Sean watched as his mother’s belly grew each day. We were so happy when we found out it was a girl.
With her talent, Bruna became a fashion businesswoman making children’s clothes, and opened a very successful business, a store for girls called BISI. The dream of having a girl came true and she said she would make clothes for the little girl. In four years we had four stores in the best parts of Rio de Janeiro.
Scheduled to be born on August 21, 2008, Chiara decided to be born on that day. The birth took place apparently without any problems. Unfortunately, there were complications and failures that don’t deserve to be mentioned here.
My beloved Bruna, my life, the mother of my two children, died the morning of August 22, hours after giving birth to our daughter Chiara. She left me with the two greatest gifts of life: Sean and Chiara. Bruna died at age 34.
Sean – a BRAZILIAN CITIZEN – has been in Brazil since June 2004. He has been in Brazil much more time than he spent outside the country, without taking into account the time he spent abroad was when he was very little and he doesn’t remember much about it.
Sean has been under my care since January 2005, in a relationship of father and son. Today, he speaks very little English and recognizes his family –his support and nuclear family – as me, his affective father, and his sister, his biological connection to his mother.
For all those years, the North American never tried to visit us for even a day. The first year Sean spent in Brazil, he rarely called, maybe two times, on days like Sean’s birthday and Christmas. For the last two birthdays, Sean didn’t receive even a phone call, since in 2007 and 2008 we never received any contact by phone.
In the first two years, contact was limited to sending emails to my wife’s account in English to a child who couldn’t even read yet in Portuguese. We received presents one or two times, sent by the paternal grandmother with a simple card signed only by the grandmother.
During all this time the American claims he was in Brazil four or five times. In none of these occasions did he try to see us, formally or informally. He never asked for visitation rights in court, although he was answering to the custody request, after taking the legal initiative in Brazil. In fact, we found out about his presence in Brazil from our lawyers, with whom he was with on the day of the trial.
We also found out that he was in the courts lobbying with some Supreme Court judges. I repeat: at no moment did he even call our house warning us that he’d be here. He preferred to visit Sean’s judges.
Right after my beloved wife died, I decided to take the legal initiative to ask for custody of Sean, since I already took care of him and had a father-like relationship with him, a son of more than four years. I received custody after the State Public Ministry ruled in my favor.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t imagine what was coming. Right after Bruna’s seventh day mass, I received word that the American was in Brazil, and had gotten in touch with my lawyers.
My question: WOULD HE HAVE COME IF BRUNA HADN’T DIED???
Judging from the history of his actions, it’s obvious he wouldn’t have.
Even without having made visual contact in four and a half years, he decided to go after his biological son. The request was made through the family court judge, who based on experience and following the Public Ministry’s understanding of the case denied the visit, temporarily, keeping in mind the family’s moment of pain and his absence for so many years. He understood that such a visit could take place after social and psychological studied, all in Sean’s best interests.
After that legal decision, our life became hell.
This American hired, through his lawyers, a media consultant, even though the case was protected by the secrecy of justice. He began to spread his lies to the Brazilian media, as if his life in the US had been a fairy tale. He said that he had come innumerous times to Brazil and that “the family had prevented access.” He called Bruna a bigamist, an adulterer, and a child kidnapper – even after several sentences – and without Bruna being able to defend herself.
He put a letter on the Internet which accused the Brazilian courts of being corrupt, saying we’d paid all the judges, and that our courts don’t deserve credit.
And that’s not all. Upon returning to the US, he went after his country’s media. He disclosed the whole story, he gave an interview telling his lies about the facts. He revealed my name and my family’s name, calling me a child abductor.
He created a site on the Internet where he tells his version of the story, where there’s a link where people have access to my email and my father’s email. From there, people began to write me, slandering me. I received hundreds of emails, telling me to burn in hell, that I’m a criminal. Along with the link, they show a series of emails at the Brazilian embassy, the courts, the Executive Powers, pressuring people through the American public opinion to take political action against me and my family, using as an excuse Sean’s return to the US after four and a half years of doing nothing.
AS IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, THE AMERICAN ASKS FOR FINANCIAL DONATIONS ON HIS SITE WHERE HE ACCEPTS CREDIT CARDS!
As if it wasn’t enough to create products with Sean’s face on it when he was two years old that serve as a stamp on mugs, cooking aprons, tee-shirts of all kinds with sayings like Brazil doesn’t follow the law, that Sean should be returned to his country, etc, completely absurd facts and appeals that serve as a way to sustain the American, for him to make money since he has no job.
It’s important to mention that he says he never calls because supposedly, the family wouldn’t accept collect calls. How could he expect to raise a child that barely remembers his American past, without any money to even call his biological son?
What’s more, on Orkut, an Internet community popular with young Brazilians, there’s a community created by children that like my wife’s store, which began to release videos and photos accusing Bruna of being a kidnapper, sending these documents to Brazilian CHILDREN, without even thinking about the consequences or evaluating the gravity of this act!
Take note that if he had really been suffering or interested he wouldn’t have begun to scream four and a half years later. He would have done it a week after Bruna came to Brazil!!!
The American appears to be full of good intentions. However, he doesn’t tell the Brazilian press, nor the American press, much less on his website, that he ACCUSED BY IN-LAWS OF PARTICIPATING IN A SUPPOSED INTERNATIONAL KIDNAPPING, IN A CASE IN THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THERE THEY MADE A DEAL IN FRONT OF A JUDGE WHICH RECINDED HIS COMPLAINT FOR THE BEAUTIFUL AMOUNT OF US$150,000 (ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS)!!! All of this duly recognized by an American judge!
I repeat: would the guy have showed up if Bruna hadn’t died??? NEVER!!! He came because he smelled money, keeping in mind the eventual inheritance Sean would receive.
It’s important to point out that during those four and a half years, the American never sent us A SINGLE PENNY. All of Sean’s costs of living were paid for by me and Bruna. We never took the initiative to charge him for food, there’s no legal case of that kind at all. Just like there was no court order asking for and requiring him to visit Sean. So why did he come four and a half years later??? Only because Bruna died? He wasn’t satisfied with the agreement?
The American also didn’t say that he lived in a house bought with Bruna’s money. He lives with a roof over his head that’s not his, for free. He doesn’t say that he falsified Bruna’s signature on several checks from her bank account in order to gain access to the money she’d left when she returned to Brazil. He doesn’t mention any of that.
On the contrary, he makes a sad face, that of a father in trouble. Unfortunately, his acting moved the American government, which began to pressure the Brazilian Central Authority. Motivated by reasons of which I am unaware, the Secretary of Human Rights in MY COUNTRY forced the Union, through the General Advocacy Union, which is paid for by our taxes, to make a legal decision.
Today I’m the DEFENDANT IN A CASE AGAINST THE UNION WHICH PLEADS FOR SEAN’S RETURN AND VISITATION IN FAVOR OF A NORTH AMERICAN!!!!! Even though he request was made by the Family Judge and even though the return request was repeated, whose merit was already judged in the STJ! The Union pleads the right as a PRIVATE favor of an AMERICAN AGAINST A BRAZILIAN who is being massacred by the press, who can’t sleep at night, that is obligated to get court orders so that the story will be silenced, even though it’s already protected by the secrecy of justice.
My country can’t act against a REAL BRAZILIAN FATHER, TO THE POINT OF GETTING INVOLVED IN A COMPLETELY PRIVATE MATTER. AT WHAT POINT HAVE WE FOUND OURSELVES???? WE ARE THEN SUBJECTS TO THE INTEREST OF A FOREIGNER ABOVE US, INCLUDING THE DECISIONS OF OUR COURTS?
WOULD I HAVE RECEIVED THE SAME TREATMENT IF THIS HAD HAPPENED IN THE US?
I feel completely vulnerable. The American, right now, must be creating political tricks to harm my family, a person that shouldn’t receive any credit for being completely absent. To make a child is good, but to be responsible for taking care of him and raising him requires more dedication, and my love for Sean is no different than the love I feel for Chiara.
Bruna was very loved. When she died we took out a page in the newspaper to announce her mass. At her burial, which wasn’t publicized by the media, we had more than a thousand friends there. Bruna always believed in Brazil and it was here that she made her real family. Our courts understand this situation to be in Sean’s best interests, for him to stay here. Sean has a biological sister now, and the Union, pressuring or not, appears to want to forget the decision made by our maximum Court, and on account of Bruna’s death, to plead on the basis of a kidnapping, Sean’s return to the US, after he spent so much time in Brazil. They forget that Sean is BRAZILIAN!!! THAT EVEN THOUGH HE WASN’T BORN IN OUR BELOVED LAND, HE LOVES HIS BRAZIL LIKE FEW DO.
It wasn’t our fault that he lost his connection to the US. It wasn’t for our misdoing, it wasn’t for our absence. We can’t become defendants now, accused of being kidnappers, to go to a meeting in the interests of a North American. Where have we found ourselves? That Sean is more American than Brazilian?? Or is it that it’s better to be an American?? When will these political pressures serve as an excuse for the AGU to take an initiative in favor of a “gringo’s” private interests against a LEGITIMATE BRAZILIAN FAMILY???
Sean, ever since his mother died, has been receiving psychological help to aid him through a difficult time. Psychologist Maria Helena Bartolo has always confidently affirmed that Sean, due to the failure of initiative on his biological father’s part, lost the connection to his American past, since he doesn’t speak the language anymore and since he came to Brazil so young. Sean arrived just after he turned four. If you take into account that a child has little to no memory of his first years of life, it’s easy to understand that Sean can’t remember events and people –even family—in the US.
According to the psychologist, Sean’s formal memory is of his mother at my side, of a happy and pleasant home. Sean lived at my side for practically 60% of his life, since he will turn 9 in May, more time than he spent in the US. When he was questioned about his life in the US, he remembers few details, including arguments and fights that frequently occurred due to a failed marriage.
It’s important to emphasize that I, as the socio-affective father, am only interested in my son Sean’s well-being, nothing more than that. It’s devastating to see his innocent image on mugs sold on the Internet where no one knows where the money goes. Sean is being exposed inconsequently to the world, without taking account the negative consequences this can bring to a growing child. The secrecy of justice is disrespected daily, with all of the photos and information thrown around by the media without any criteria, with the only goal to create controversy and to sell newspapers.
What is the objective of all of these attacks against a Brazilian family? There was never any intention of preventing healthy contact and habitation [with the father]. As such, at the first opportunity which occurred recently, I, as the guardian, offered the visit that took place. Sean’s psychologist can testify to this fact, and told me that Sean was curious, but after a few hours, was uncomfortable. She repeated that in some sessions he wants to have a normal life, without afflictions or risks of being taken from Brazil without being heard, that he wants to stay with his affective father that he loves so, and at his sister’s side, his only connection to his deceased mother. Obviously she doesn’t deny that he doesn’t demonstrate interest in maintaining contact with his biological father, but that he wants to do it in a health and balanced way.
However, there’s a real fear in the family that due to North American political pressures, through the Consulate, that the minor’s interests will be put on the back burner. It doesn’t really matter if the biological father was absent for five years. It doesn’t matter if Sean has a biological sister. It doesn’t matter if he is loved here and wants to stay in the place he calls home, where he goes to school. It doesn’t matter that he is BRAZILIAN. We are essentially running the risk of seeing our highest law that we respect, before everything, the child’s best interest, being violated, torn up, thrown away by North American political interests. They want to use the boy as an example. Example of what? It’s not enough that he was orphaned at age 8, and now, about to be taken from his house, his home, the people he lived with and who cared for him for five years, from daily living with the sister he loves, from his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, and friends?? Where is the best interest of the child??? Or does it deal with the best interest of the US, the American ambassador, of Hillary Clinton?
We don’t even know if the version told outside of Brazil is true. The facts are innumerous and here we have millions of papers that prove, unfortunately, the character of the biological father that never had a real job and was sustained by my wife for the years they were married. If by using the lack of the secrecy of justice in the US to sell himself as a poor little thing, when in reality the only person being penalized in this story is Sean, who runs the risk of losing everything that really makes him feel safe. Sean barely speaks English, and doesn’t speak fluently like they try to show!!!
With great fear and to avoid the rights and interests of a son being completely and grossly violated, it is the socio-affective father – that never ran away from his responsibility of sustaining a child for most of his life only and exclusively for LOVE – asks this Council to analyze and protect the rights of a Brazilian child that has already suffered a lot, and that today is distressed and suffering due to a disastrous and inconsequential international political game – whose foreign political interests seem to be above our law, and if that wasn’t enough, above the greater interest of a Brazilian child, the ONLY VICTIM, that will suffer the serious emotional consequences, in the event that this council doesn’t intervene.
Rio de Janeiro, March 5, 2009
Joao Paulo Lins e Silva – OAB/RJ
Patrica Apy Letter
Recently I understand that correspondence was advanced in the Brazilian media, purporting to be authored by João Paulo Lins e Silva, addressing his version of events surrounding the Goldman matter.
The vast majority of the representations contain statements unsupported by the facts, and are admitted hearsay, and therefore, it is unnecessary to respond to such accusations, in large measure because they lack relevance to determinations properly made pursuant to the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction is a limited inquiry : Has a child been wrongfully removed or retained away from their state of habitual residence and from a parent who was exercising custody or would have exercised custody, but for the removal or retention? If the answer is yes, the return of the child is mandatory.
However, it will undoubtedly be helpful for the evaluation of credibility, particularly to those legitimately attempting to understand this matter, to address several objective issues, all supported and documented by the evidence submitted by both of the parties in the courts of the United States, which contradict this account.
Mr. Lins e Silva’s attempts at characterizing this as a nationalistic issue is not only inaccurate, but diminishes the Brazilian judiciary and government who now appear to support the pending application for the return of this child to the United States. His comments can only be considered an act of desperation, designed to distract from the Treaty obligations.
First, Mr. Lins e Silva conveys in his correspondence a time line that for the first time contains admissions which actually support Mr. Lins e Silva’s role in this long and sordid history, and confirms the long held suspicion that Bruna Goldman planned and premeditated an abduction of the parties’ son, as was originally asserted by Mr. Goldman in his filing in August of 2004.
Original Brazilian Custody Filing
Mr. Lins e Silva describes the allegations conveyed to him by Bruna, and indicates that Bruna “decided” not to return to Brazil. Later in this letter, he is careful to say that she made that decision only after she arrived in Brazil. However, in the representations that she made to the Brazilian family court she recounted that it was a planned separation and David Goldman permitted his son to go to Brazil with that understanding, the Court summarized the statements upon which they based their decision, as follows:
“Last June, after using all her persuasion power Petitioner was able to come to Rio de Janeiro in the company of her son…continuing with the understandings she had initiated in the United States in connection with their separation.”
Her story was only discovered when Mrs. Goldman attempted to use the Brazilian family Court documents within the New Jersey case and attached a translation of the Brazilian court findings to her United States pleadings, many months later. Clearly, Sean had only been in Brazil for a mere two weeks on July 9, 2004 when Mrs. Goldman alleged she had “continu[ed] the understandings she initiated”. Such language could have no other purpose but to misrepresent to the Judge in Brazil that her presence there was as a result of a jointly planned marital separation.
Mr. Lins e Silva now confirms the strategy that Bruna employed in her filings “during the authorized period of time given to Bruna by the American to stay in Brazil with her son…appeared in the Brazilian Court and asked for custody of Sean, which was quickly granted”. In that brief “authorized period”, the record reflects that Sean was immediately registered in the “Andrews Baby School, since June of 2004 as evidenced in the enclosed statement, and is fully adapted.” Mr. Lins e Silva argues that Mrs. Goldman only made the decision after having arrived in Brazil on the 19th of June of 2004, but the pleadings filed before the Brazilian court direct that he was “registered” in school immediately, without the knowledge or consent of the father. In an attempt to begin to build her case, she also subjected the child to one of the many professional psychologists she would employ throughout this matter, never with notice to or the participation of Mr. Goldman . These arguments, like most of those being advanced by Mr. Lins e Silva, were made, and rejected before the New Jersey courts.
While it is alleged that David Goldman knew about this filing, such could not be the case, as established by her own counsel, Peter A. McKay, Esquire. Mrs. Goldman’s attorney was forced to admit to the court for the record, and required to confirm in writing, that Mr. Goldman was only provided the documents supporting Bruna’s filing in the Brazilian family court, on December 22, 2004, nearly 6 months after they were filed. Because precisely the kind of duplicity contained in this published correspondence was anticipated, Mr. Goldman insisted that the record actually reflect the admission of her lawyer on her behalf to confirm it. (See attached correspondence Letter from Peter Mc Kay dated January 7, 2005; and please refer to the order of the New Jersey court confirming that the custody complaint had not been served until December 22, 2004.)
It was alleged before, and found by, the court that Mrs. Goldman had purposely not provided to Mr. Goldman these papers because it was obvious that the allegations to the Brazilian court which she had made, like the ones above, would have been immediately disputable.
Divorce proceedings and Involvement of Lins e Silva
The other legal allegations which have been made now permit us to characterize the relationship of Mr. Lins e Silva and this child, in a way deserving attention. A careful reading of this letter indicates that Mr. Goldman was provided notice of the divorce through a “judicial officer in Brasilia”. That is a polite way of saying that he was informed that the divorce had already been accomplished when he travelled to Brazil to participate in the proceedings on the Hague matter. Not only did Mr. Goldman recieve no notice of Bruna’s filing of the Brazilian divorce, indeed her legal representatives in the United States, continued to discuss the eventual prosecution of a divorce complaint in the United States, and continued to promise to respond to Mr. Goldman’s counsel and confirm their ability to represent her interests in the United States. Mr. Goldman later learned that Mrs. Goldman had reportedly filed sometime in 2006.
But a careful reading of this letter indicates that Mr. Lins e Silva says that Sean Goldman was “under his care” since January of 2005. Later he admits that “in less than six months from meeting we were living together”. It is unclear from the history of multiple meetings that he provides in his letter, when he and Bruna met and under what circumstances. But clearly his admission establishes his involvement with Bruna from June of 2004 when the wrongful removal and retention to Brazil occurred. At the time that Bruna was still married, while this case was still pending in the New Jersey courts, and still pending before the Brazilian courts on the Hague Petition (which was entered in October 2005), the fact that Sean was not living exclusively with his mother and her parents, as she had stated in her own court documents, was never disclosed, until set forth in this letter.
The fact that Mrs. Goldman had moved in her lover, and that this man was encouraged to be referred to as “Daddy” by Sean, and to diminish the role of Mr. Goldman to “the American” was strategically kept a secret from the judges hearing this matter in both Brazil and the United States, and demonstrates the lack of care and concern for the needs of the minor child.
Attached is my correspondence dated January 18, 2005 addressed to James Newman, Esquire, of the law firm Newman, Scarola and Associates, the local counsel representing the Ribieros, the maternal grandparents of Sean. It documents that Mr. Goldman, who tried on a virtually daily basis to talk to his son, had suddenly “been unable to locate him”, this coincides precisely with Mr. Lins e Silva’s admission that he had moved in with Bruna Goldman and taken control of Sean that date.
Had Mrs. Goldman and her family been as proud or as sure of their actions as they now opine, one wonders why they continued to lie to the courts in both countries. It is clear that no court, in either country would reasonably countenance moving a man into the home, with a small child while the court deliberates, and a year prior to even filing for divorce. Indeed, even the secret provisional custody order obtained quickly by Bruna, disclosed to Mr. Goldman in December of 2004 is silent about Mrs. Goldman’s intentions to do anything other than rely upon her parents.
The allegation of International Parental Abduction, as Mr. Lins e Silva well knows, was filed immediately with the United States Department of State and transmitted to the Central Authority of Brazil on September 3, 2004, 46 days after Sean was abducted, and only after the return plane tickets for Sean and his mother had gone unused, and constant entreaties of Mr. Goldman to secure Bruna’s voluntary return were ignored. Attached to it was the order requiring Bruna to voluntarily return. Had the facts, as alleged by Mr. Lins e Silva been as compelling as described, there would have been no difficulty obtaining permission to relocate with Sean to Brazil. Mrs. Goldman was unwilling to subject her proofs to cross examination, or to permit them to be subjected to scrutiny at the location of the evidence in New Jersey where the parties lived, where Sean went to school, and where these allegations would be immediately contradicted by witnesses living with this family. The judicial filing of the Hague Petition was properly before the Brazilian Federal Court seeking the return of Sean, was made on November 17, 2004. Mr. Goldman did not go to a law office in Sao Paulo as described, (implying he neglected to visit Sean). Indeed, he pursued his remedies, as required under the Treaty (i.e. Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International child abduction), through the assistance of the diplomatic offices of both of these countries, and counsel arranged in Brazil.
Mr. Lins e Silva knows that negotiations were conducted, and Mr. Goldman made proposal after proposal through counsel for the exercise of access in the United States and in Brazil, including offering to see Sean in third country if necessary, merely to be permitted to see him. During the last written proposals, attorneys for Mrs. Goldman communicated that Bruna refused to comply or to even have a conference to further discuss resolution.
Despite Mr. Lins e Silva describing David as having “repeatedly lost”, he is careful not to share either the timing or the legal issues with his readers. In October of 2005 the Federal Court in Brazil issued its finding that Sean, was actually habitually resident in the United States of America for the purposes of this Treaty; and further, that pursuant to the law of habitual residence, New Jersey, United States of America, Sean had indeed been wrongfully retained in Brazil. Mr. Lins e Silva knows that it is the determination of habitual residence, not the fact that Sean enjoys the benefits of dual citizenship that determine the responsibility to return Sean.
However, the Federal Court declined to return Sean, based erroneously upon that time that the Federal Court took to deliberate and render a decision. Because that position is unsupported in the Treaty or found in International jurisprudence, the matter was immediately appealed.
The matter remained pending before the highest appellate court when Bruna died. However Mr. Lins e Silva, and those representing Bruna, did not disclose her death to either David Goldman or to the Federal courts in Brazil, hoping to first obtain a favorable decision. His comment that “he [referring to David] was made to understand that the law rules in the interest of the minor and in this case that he would stay in Brazil with his mother” belies the fact that Mr. Lins e Silva and his father, who is an internationally regarded Brazilian expert in the Hague Convention, are both well aware that the precepts of this Convention have never supported the continued wrongful retention of Sean. In the application now pending before the Federal Court, the government of Brazil acknowledges and urges the return of Sean, and they continue to urge that because the wrongful removal and retention have continued this long, Sean’s habitual residence is Brazil.
The relationship that Mr. Lins de Silva cultivated with Sean was possible only because it was conducted in secret by preventing any meaningful contact between David Goldman and his son. Court documents confirm that Mr. Goldman was ordered to have access with his son by the Brazilian court and Mr. Lins de Silva ignored the order and left with the child, causing Mr. Goldman, once again to leave without even seeing Sean. It is clear, based upon the most recent court ordered visitation, that the fear which engendered the obstruction of parental access was well founded, in that Sean immediately responded to his father, with great physical and emotional affection and love, in the presence of witnesses and the psychologist hired to observe their interaction.
Mr. Lins de Silva is correct in describing that immediately after his wife’s death he decided to “take a legal initiative…”, in fact, he filed, again secretly, to have David Goldman’s name removed from the Brazilian Birth Certificate, as well the paternal grandparents names.
Mr. Goldman amended the Hague Petition to include Mr. Lins e Silva and to assert the continued wrongful retention of Sean, only when it became clear that Mr. Lins e Silva and the Ribiero family would not honor the orders of the United States Courts or his rights as the father of Sean and return Sean to his father’s custody. Mr. Goldman was consistently advised to trust the international judicial process in the application of the Hague convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction by the government and judiciary of Brazil. In reliance upon that advice by the Central Authorities of both countries, Mr. Goldman pursued neither criminal sanctions available in the United States, nor sought any media contact regarding this case while the matter remained pending before the Brazilian courts. Mr. Goldman has never hired a media consultant.
Once Bruna had died, and the secret and inappropriate litigation efforts exposed, Mr. Goldman reluctantly agreed to begin the arduous diplomatic process, and to permit his story to be told in public, when he discovered the death of Bruna and the holding of Sean by Mr. Lins e Silva.
No longer burdened by the misrepresentations of Bruna Goldman and her family, or the secret influence of Mr. Lins e Silva, it is hoped that the International Treaty law, upon which both countries rely for the welfare and protection of all of their citizens will no longer be misused.
Patricia E. Apy
Attorney for David Goldman
7 March 2009