On October 14, Italian and Florence newspapers reported that Marianne Grin, a US-Russian citizen who has lived in Florence for over 10 years, had abducted her children over the summer. Grin was being divorced by her U.S. husband in Florence, and, after having lost custody of the couple's four children in 2010, she allegedly kidnapped them and took them to Russia.
Three of the four children were born in Florence, and all were raised and attend schools here. Grin uprooted them from their schools, friends and daily lives in Florence, and taking them to another country, Russia, where they have absolutely no family or friends. Moreover, doing so without without permission from their father, who is their legal custodian, is an international crime. However, despite this, the laws of different jurisdictions and geographical locations make international child abduction stemming from parental disputes among the most complicated cases to resolve.
A 45-year-old lawyer educated at Harvard, Grin disappeared from Florence in late August with the children, all between the ages of 5 and 14. She is known to be in Saint Petersburg but has denied their father or the U.S. authorities any communication with the children. She has also clashed with the U.S. consulate officials who are helping to find and communicate with the kids.
Meanwhile, the Russian press has come to her defence. In an article on September 27, the Pravda newspaper described her as a ‘courageous' mother who took her children away from an allegedly ‘sadistic and violent' father. The father, however, claims to have proof that these accusations of violence against him and all of his familiy members, including his new fiance, are part of Grin's larger strategy to convince the courts and Russian authorities to protect her and her children. Although Russia has recently signed the Convention on International Child Abduction, for ‘bureaucratic reasons' the legislation is still waiting to be ratified. The children's father and his family fear Grin has taken the kids to Russia, not because she has family or contacts there, but because it may be easier to keep the kids away from their family and lives here in Florence.
The children's father, who prefers to remain anonymous, 49 and also a lawyer, firmly denies his separated wife's accusations of violence and is concerned about his children's physical and mental health and their condition in Russia, a country they do not know. Dr. Armando Ceccarelli, the psychologist appointed by the judge in the divorce case described Grin as ‘a person psychologically disturbed,' driven ‘by paranoid fantasies of being the object of "plots" and "persecutions" by the court and by the institutions.' The relationship with her children ‘is at a serious psycho-pathogenic risk,' Ceccarelli wrote.
Despite these findings and warnings from the children's father and his lawyer about Grin's flight risk, the Italian court did not order that visits between Grin and her children be protected.
‘I just want my children to be well and to come home,' the children's father said. 'Let's forget for a moment that this is a divorce, that's she's angry and wants to punish me and those around me, or is psychologically unstable. This is a crime against children. They've been abruptly removed from all their friends, their father, both their grandmothers, their little cousin in Pistoia, aunt and uncles. It's just not right. We want them safe, and returned home.'
Parental child abduction is by far the most common child abduction and often occurs when the parents separate or begin divorce proceedings. Accordino to data, a total of 2,703 children were involved in the 1,965 reported international parental abductions in 2009.