Russians watching York County case of adopted boy's death
By RICK LEE
The death of a Russian-born adopted boy - and homicide charges against his Carroll Township parents - has York County in the headlines of state news agency Tass and televised broadcasts of state-run and independent Russian news.
On Wednesday afternoon, Russian news crews converged on the Judicial Center to interview Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker about the Aug. 24, 2009, death of 7-year-old Nathaniel Michael Craver.
Nathaniel, who was born as Ivan Skorobogatov, was adopted along with his sister in 2003 by Nanette L. Craver, 54, and Michael J. Craver, 45. Nathaniel, whose body had more than 80 external injuries, died of traumatic brain injury. Barker alleges his parents are responsible for "things done and things not done," including not seeking medical attention for his injuries.
The York County District Attorney's office began fielding calls from Russian media outlets Wednesday morning. That afternoon, Barker spoke with Russian news crews on the steps of the courthouse.
"They were asking the same questions as the local media does in any criminal case," Barker said. "And I answered them the same way with what is confined to public record and the . .. affidavit."
Katarina Alexandrova, of INFOX, said Nathaniel's death and the arrests of the Cravers on homicide charges was breaking news in Russia. She explained that adoptions of Russian children by Americans is a political issue there and that some have called for a ban on American adoptions.
"It's really big," said Alexandrova, who is based in Washington, D.C. "People care a lot about kids being internationally adopted. When something happens, it's of interest."
Alexandrova said deaths of adopted Russian children in the United States are a closely watched topic.
Alexey Veselovskiy, of NTV-Russia, said Russian people are concerned because of reports that as many as 15 adopted Russian children have been killed by their American parents since 2000.
"It's huge," said Veselovskiy, who is based in New York City. "Every major newspaper and television station is following it."
Veselovskiy said the Russian media picked up on the boy's death Tuesday.
The international attention came as a surprise to Barker. He said no one involved in the investigation had given Nathaniel's nationality a thought. He said investigators were aware the boy was from Russia when, following protocol, police were informed of the injured child being admitted to the hospital Aug. 20, 2009.
The Russian news teams inquired about the six-month span between the boy's death and his parents' arrests.
In his interview with Alexandrova, Barker explained, "There was a lot of evidence to gather - medical care, sustenance issues. We have to analyze every single record we can obtain.
"These investigations take time. We never rush into a homicide prosecution, especially concerning the death of a child.
"It never crossed my mind to think about adoption issues. Solely to us it was, we have a child who got killed."
Barker told Veselovskiy of the exhaustively thorough autopsy that was performed and double-checked. He told both reporters his goal was seek justice for Nathaniel.
Alexandrova said there is some concern in Russia that any investigation or prosecution concerning the boy's death would "not be followed with the same attention (for) a nationally born American kid."
"No one asked me that question," Barker said after the news crews had left. "But the answer is, absolutely not.
"And to tell you how much it is true is how the attention from the Russian media came so out of left field today. We never saw the case as American parents who adopted a Russian child."
Barker said Nathaniel's nationality did not appear to have any pertinence to the murder investigation.
"We review things in the scope of what it relevant to our case," he said. "We see Nathaniel as a 7-year-old child who is the victim of a homicide and we see the defendants as the individuals we're alleging committed that crime."
Veselovskiy and Alexandrova both said they will return to York County as the homicide case proceeds through the court system.