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"Maria" mystery lifts lid on bumbling Greek state

Date: 2013-10-23

"Maria" mystery lifts lid on bumbling Greek state

By Karolina Tagaris
LARISSA, Greece | Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:08am EDT

Oct 23 (Reuters) - She has two identities and lived off thousands of euros a month in child benefits for nearly a dozen offspring that appear to exist only on paper, and but for one little girl would have continued the fraud Greek police say she perpetrated for two decades.

The girl is Maria, or the "blonde angel without an identity" as she has come to be known, and the woman is a 40-year-old Roma who claimed to be her mother but has been charged, along with her 39-year-old partner, with the girl's abduction.

The mystery surrounding Maria's real identity since she was discovered peeking out from under a blanket at a Roma settlement in central Greece has made headlines across the world and prompted a global search for her biological parents.

And in a debt-laden country eager to show foreign lenders it is reforming its state apparatus, the case has lifted the lid on a bumbling bureaucracy and patchy system of controls that allowed the girl to slip through the cracks.

Greece's child-trafficking problem

Date: 2013-10-21

21 October 2013 Last updated at 14:19 ET

Greece's child-trafficking problem
By Giorgos Christides

Officials believe "Maria" may have been a victim of abduction, as Mark Lowen reports

A Roma couple have now been formally charged in Greece with abducting a young blonde, blue-eyed girl called Maria, who was found in a Roma camp in the centre of the country last Thursday.

Although the couple insist the girl was informally adopted and not abducted, the case has thrown the spotlight on the wider issue of child trafficking in Greece.

Criminal organisations bring hundreds of children from the Balkans to Greece, where they are subjected to forced labour, sex-trafficking or sold to couples, in Greece or abroad, in illegal adoption schemes.

"There are currently 3,000 children transited through Greece by child-trafficking rings. The children originate mainly from Bulgaria, Romania and other Balkan countries," says Lambros Kanellopoulos, the president of the UN children's agency Unicef in Greece.

Minnesota couple accused of starving son enter plea

Date: 2013-10-21

Published October 21, 2013, 01:45 PM
Minnesota couple accused of starving son enter plea
A southern Minnesota couple accused of starving their adopted son to the point that authorities said his bones were protruding reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Monday.

By: Amy Forliti, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A southern Minnesota couple accused of starving their adopted son to the point that authorities said his bones were protruding reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Monday.

Mona and Russell Hauer entered Alford pleas to one count each of child neglect. Mona Hauer pleaded to a felony, while Russell Hauer pleaded to a gross misdemeanor. An Alford plea is a form of guilty plea in which the defendant maintains his innocence, but agrees a jury could find him guilty based on the state's evidence.

According to the plea agreement, the Hauers could each face a maximum of 60 days in jail when they are sentenced next month, attorneys for the state and defense said. Prosecutor Michelle Zehnder Fischer said she has agreed to remain silent at sentencing, while the defense plans to ask for no jail time.

Spanish couple charged with lethal drugging of adopted daughter

Date: 2013-10-20

Spanish couple charged with lethal drugging of adopted daughter

Oct. 20, 2013 | 8:23 PM | 0 comments

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A Spanish couple have been charged with killing the daughter they adopted from China 12 years ago by drugging her with sleeping pills.
Asunta Yong Fang Basterra Porto was found dead in September in a wooded area near a luxury villa inherited by her mother from her parents, ThinkSpain reported Sunday.

Her parents were charged with homicide, the Spanish equivalent of manslaughter, but that was recently upped to murder charges. Investigators said the 12-year-old girl had been given a lethal dose of sleeping pills shortly before her death.

Tests on her hair allegedly show she also received doses of drugs in July were large enough to knock her out.

Rosario Porto, who had worked as a lawyer, and her husband, Antonio Basterra, were separated at the time of Asunta's death but were living in houses next door to each other in Santiago de Compostela.

Charges against Spanish parents of China-born girl upped to murder

Date: 2013-10-19

Charges against Spanish parents of China-born girl upped to murder
(AFP) – 3 days ago

Madrid — A Spanish judge on Friday upgraded charges relating to the death of the Chinese-born, 12-year-old adopted daughter of a couple from homicide to murder in a case that has gripped Spain.

Rosario Porto, a 44-year-old lawyer, and her ex-husband, 49-year-old journalist Alfonso Basterra, were charged last month with "homicide, possible murder" and imprisoned without bail while awaiting the results of toxicological tests on their daughter's body.

But after questioning the two suspects again on Friday, the judge leading the investigation raised the charges against them to murder because of "the aggravating circumstances of treachery and kinship", the High Court of Galicia said in a written statement.

Homicide is the legal term for killing without premeditation while murder charges apply in the case of a planned homicide.

Biological Mother of Two in Child Abuse Case Speaks Out

Date: 2013-10-18

A one-on-one interview with a biological mother of two, Francis Arriaga Thursday night.

Arriaga tells us that her kids were fostered for a year and a half, and then adopted by the Dixons for four years before their arrest.

She says that she had an abusive relationship with their dad which is my Child Protective Services got involved in the first place.

Arriaga says she is grateful for what they did then, but now she is raising serious questions about CPS.

When the Dixons were in the adoption process, she tells us that she fought hard to get her kids back.

She says she even speculated abuse back then and reported this.

The Dixons were arrested October 2nd for injury to a child.

Officials say they had 10 adopted kids, and now all 10 kids have been removed from the home.

Her frustration is that if they would have listened then, all of this could have been prevented.

Adult Son of Couple Adopting Deseray Says They Were Abusive Parents

Date: 2013-10-16

By Suzette Brewer

A family court judge in South Carolina has scheduled a hearing on October 25 to finalize of the adoption of Baby Deseray, despite an Oklahoma court ruling last month that granted custody to the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and ordered her return to that state. The infant, who was removed from Oklahoma shortly after her birth in May by Bobby and Diane Bixler of Irmo, South Carolina, has been the subject of a second heated interstate custody battle between an Oklahoma Indian tribe and the state of South Carolina. The Bixlers are represented by Raymond Godwin, attorney for Nightlight Christian Adoptions of Greenville, South Carolina, and Paul Swain, a Tulsa, Oklahoma attorney. Both lawyers also represented Matt and Melanie Capobianco in their adoption of Veronica, which was finalized in September after a bitter four-year custody battle with the girl's biological father, Dusten Brown.

Former Cape attorney charged with sexually exploiting a child

Date: 2013-10-16

Former Cape attorney charged with sexually exploiting a child
October 16, 2013
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A former Cape Coral attorney is accused of sexually exploiting two boys between 2009 and 2011.

John Rex Powell, 41, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to sexually exploit a child and five counts of sexual exploitation of a child by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana. He is scheduled for a jury trial Oct. 28 before U.S. District Court Judge Sara Evans Barker.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven DeBrota and Brant Cook are handling the case.

Attorneys Kathleen Sweeney and Charles Hayes, in Indianapolis, are representing Powell.

Neither Sweeney nor Hayes returned a message Tuesday seeking comment on the case.

'She would grab me around the throat and tell me to die'

Date: 2013-10-13

Woman, 27, subjected to a decade of abuse by cruel adoptive mother speaks of her shocking ordeal

Lita Morgan was forced to drink bleach from a cloth during years of abuse
Adoptive mother also held her head under water until she couldn't breathe
Miss Morgan has now spoken out after Christine Morgan was convicted
She said she never wants 'a child to suffer in the way I did'


A woman subjected to a decade of abuse at the hands of her cruel adoptive mother has spoken of her ordeal for the first time.

Christine Morgan forced her adoptive daughter to drink bleach from a cloth used to clean toilets during her ten-year reign of terror.

The violence also included holding the child’s head under the bath water until she couldn’t breathe and threatening to kill her.

Lita Morgan, who was adopted when she was two-years-old, has now spoken out after her mother was convicted of cruelty against her.

Miss Morgan, 27, reported the crimes to police after suffering post-traumatic stress, caused by the abuse, as an adult.

Who would give up an adopted child?

Date: 2013-10-12

Who would give up an adopted child?
By Tina Traster
October 12, 2013 | 10:19pm

It had been three years since Beth and Tom Remboldt had adopted Galina, a little girl from Russia.

Abused as a child, the 9-year-old was nearly impossible to handle. She screamed, she hit, she would stand stone-still and refuse to move when things didn’t go her way. If we just loved her a little more, Beth thought, we’ll survive this.

Then one day, Beth was unpacking the dishwasher with Galina. She left the room for a moment and when she returned, there were feces on the clean dishes. Beth asked her daughter why she’d done that. “I want you to eat my poop and die,” she said.

Love, it seemed, was not enough.

“At this point I started fearing for my safety and for my family’s safety,” Beth said. “Did she really want us to die?”

The Remboldts considered the unthinkable, something that went against all they believed in as adoptive parents.
They would have to give Galina up.


Christensen guilty of manslaughter in Beverly slaying

Date: 2013-10-12

October 12, 2013
Christensen guilty of manslaughter in Beverly slaying
Christensen faces up to 20 years when he's sentenced for manslaughter


BEVERLY — A young Beverly man could face up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced later this month for the manslaughter conviction a Salem Superior Court jury handed down yesterday afternoon.

Sajan “Sage” Christensen, 20, who had been facing a first-degree murder charge, was found guilty of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter in the March 17, 2011 stabbing death of James “J.P.” Vernazzaro.

Christensen, who showed no visible reaction to the verdict, will be sentenced Oct. 21. His lawyer, Raymond Buso, gave him a pat on the back as the verdict was announced.

Vernazzaro’s brother and sister were visibly upset and crying as they left the courthouse.

Christensen, who was 18 at the time of the killing, and a second teen, Adam Martin, then 17, went to Balch Park on the night of March 17, 2011 to meet Vernazzaro, 26.

Local attorney charged in world wide pedophile ring

Date: 2013-10-11

Local attorney charged in world wide pedophile ring
By Dave Culbreth
CREATED OCT. 11, 2013 - UPDATED: OCT. 12, 2013

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Investigators from several places around the world say former Cape Coral attorney Rex Powell was the leader of a ring which had a chat room called which had 70,000 members until it was shut down. The investigation started five years ago but until they arrested all 184 men the court documents were sealed, until Friday.

"He's a man I knew! A lawyer in this city, in this town," says Stuart Pepper, who himself is an attorney in Cape Coral.

Powell was a lawyer based in Southwest Florida from 2007 until he was arrested in late 2011. "He was well respected, had a good clientle, appeared to be an up and coming lawyer," added Pepper.

According to documents obtained by FOX4 from Federal Court in Indianapolis investigators, "recovered videos and stills depicting a boy who was between 22 months old and 5 years old engaged in sex acts with John Rex Powell."

Jury deliberates in Beverly slaying

Date: 2013-10-11

October 11, 2013
Jury deliberates in Beverly slaying

BEVERLY — It’s a case about “what was gong on in this young man’s mind,” said Sajan “Sage” Christensen’s attorney in his closing argument to jurors yesterday.

But just what was going on in Christensen’s head when he stabbed James “J.P.” Vernazzaro, 26, to death on a Beverly playground on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011?

Was he a traumatized teenager lashing out in fear of the older, larger Vernazzaro?

Or was he someone, enraged over being “dissed” and told by others that he could never win a fight with the victim, plotted with co-defendant Adam Martin an “ambush?”

That’s one of the questions jurors are now mulling as they decide whether Christensen, 20, who has admitted to the stabbing in court, is guilty of premeditated murder or manslaughter, or not guilty of any crime.

A Painful Decision To Give Up Two Adopted Children

Date: 2013-10-09

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Painful Decision To Give Up Two Adopted Children

Writer Joyce Maynard has been very open with her readers about her life. When she adopted two girls from Ethiopia in 2010, she wrote about it in More magazine.

But two years later, she decided to give up the girls to another family. She speaks to Here & Now about that decision.

Interview Highlights: Joyce Maynard

On deciding to adopt two children

“At the age of 55, with you can say either huge idealism or ignorance, I believed that I care for and make life okay for any child. And I missed doing that. My children were long gone and so I sought out an easily found two sisters who were of an age that was not going to make adoption easy for them. And I went to Ethiopia and I brought them home. And certainly did so with an utter, absolute resolution that I would be their mother forever.”

On the decision to give them up

Appeals court upholds adoption of Guatemalan child by SW Missouri couple

Date: 2013-10-09

CARTHAGE, Missouri — The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling that allowed a southwest Missouri couple to adopt a boy over the objections of his biological mother from Guatemala, whose parental rights were terminated after she was arrested in an immigration raid at a poultry processing plant.

In a unanimous decision handed down Monday, the court found in favor of the adoptive parents, Seth and Melinda Moser of Carthage, who have raised the 6-year-old child since he was a year old, The Joplin Globe reported ( ).

The boy's biological mother, Encarnacion Romero, had challenged a July 2012 decision that found she had abandoned and neglected the child after she was arrested on immigration violations when the child was 11 months old.

Many of Bail Romero's supporters, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, have contended that her parental rights were severed because she was in the country illegally.

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