Dear O Globo Editors and Journalists, the article on the Sean Goldman case that was published on February 28th, 2009 in O Globo should embarrass each and every one of you. It is a shameless attempt at character assassination. As journalists, you have an obligation to investigate statements you publish, especially those in your article of such a slanderous and malicious nature, and report fairly.
Here are just some of the issues with your article that make me question Globo's journalistic integrity:
1. Your article states unchallenged that these families were totally open to a visitation with Sean if David had only pursued it. The question you need to ask is who was going to dictate the terms of these visitations, including the one Bruna's father so generously offered to fly David down for?
The reason this is important is they wanted David to do things on their terms, signing away rights and dealing with local family courts where they have the greatest influence. David was wise to avoid this on the advice of his attorneys.
It is quite interesting that you allow these families to claim they would have been so accommodating with visitations, yet the first time a court actually awarded a visitation, João Paulo Lins e Silva absconded with Sean for the weekend, after David had flown to Brazil to see his son for the first time in over four years. That clearly shows they were only ever interested in a visitation if it were on their terms.
2. You state: "Bruna won custody of her son and remade her life." Sure, in Brazil she did. But how about reporting that a US court (here is the original Court Order: http://www.bringseanhome.org/USOrder.pdf) declared her abduction illegal under New Jersey law, awarded custody to David, and ordered Bruna to return with Sean to the US for a joint custody hearing (which she ignored to her death)?
You mention a document Bruna sent to the court to justify her actions, yet fail to mention documents condemning her actions from an actual Court of Law (as opposed to one person's opinion). And even some Brazilian judges agreed the abduction was illegal. Did you bother to look through the court records?
Any unbiased expert on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction would tell you that what Bruna did was a clear violation of the Convention and exactly the kind of thing it was meant to prevent. In fact, you didn't even mention the Hague Convention, which is at the very root of the diplomatic crisis brewing between Brazil and the US. You conveniently left out all of these facts.
3. David has received donations through the BringSeanHome website but how does that prove he's in this only for the money, or even reasonably suggest it? The donations are to pay his legal costs associated with getting Sean back, which stand right now at over US$ 350,000. That still cost him US$ 200,000 after you subtract the US$ 150,000 settlement he received from Bruna's parents.
That settlement was the result of a child-snatching lawsuit, something very common in the US in these cases. Here is a document published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that on page 105 describes how left-behind parents of international child abductions can use this tactic:
and the language I'm referring to:
Child-Snatching Tort Suits
Consider a child-snatching lawsuit against the abductor and accomplices. See "Civil-Court Remedies If Your Child Is Abducted" beginning on page 21. If the abductor has assets remaining in the U.S., consider bringing a civil child-snatching lawsuit against the abductor in U.S. courts and attaching his or her U.S. assets.
This may serve as leverage to obtain the return of the child, and, if successful, may help finance an overseas investigation or legal battle. If the abductor has received help from friends or relatives who remain in the U.S. or have assets in this country, consider suing them as well. If you obtain a judgment against them, attach their U.S.-held assets.
Any lawyer who did not pursue this lawsuit in US courts would be guilty of incompetence. The suggestion in your article is that a "deal was made" in exchange for US$ 150,000. Where is the proof David agreed to anything other than releasing Bruna's parents (not Bruna) from that lawsuit, which again was a child-snatching lawsuit to help him in his battle to bring Sean back through leverage and the financing of his legal battle, having nothing to do with the ongoing Hague case with Bruna.
It is unethical to print the slanderous allegation that David is trying to profit from this case without attempting to verify its accuracy. Nowhere in the entire process since Sean's abduction did David ever stop fighting for Sean's return. And that is proven in the court records.
4. What proof is there that David has profited from selling Sean's image on mugs, T-shirts, etc.? That is totally unsubstantiated and makes readers wonder whether you took Luca Bianchi's word as gospel without asking for proof that this had indeed occurred. Did you click on the Internet link they've been sending around where they claim these items are for sale?
Have you researched where the items were being sold and who the seller was? David has tens of thousands of supporters around the world organizing rallies, email campaigns, etc. Some of them had the idea to make some of these items for a rally to help spread awareness of the case. The bottom line is it was not done for financial gain and David had nothing to do with producing the items and never saw any money from them.
Again, accusing David Goldman of being more interested in getting money out of this than actually winning back custody of his son is probably one of the most slanderous charges one can make of a father. Yet you allow these people to do it without challenging their statements or researching the matter yourselves.
5. Have you bothered to investigate Maria Augusta Carneiro Ribeiro's background? I did and it turns out she has been associated with kidnappings in the past and been in prison for her terrorist actions (see: US Ambassador Elbrick). She's hardly a reliable source for comments on this case given her own associations with kidnapping and her kinship with a kidnapper.
6. You quote Maria Augusta saying "there was never any attempt by the biological father to contact his son." That is simply untrue. There were many attempts. David has taped phone conversations where he was hung up on by Bruna's parents. And, at one point they also started sending letters and packages David sent to Sean back to David, unopened. No attempt to contact his son? Not on their terms perhaps.
7. You never mentioned that the Special Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil, the Brazilian Central Authority for the Hague Convention, through the Attorney General, initiated legal proceedings to secure the restitution of Sean Goldman to the US.
The Brazilian government is officially on record supporting Sean's return to his father in the US. Don't you think those are important facts to mention to the Brazilian people? Not as important as David and Bruna's sex life apparently.
8. And finally, you just purged one of your articles the other day of the names of all the Brazilian participants in this case. Why is it now okay to report those names, with the notable exception of course of Paulo and João Paulo Lins e Silva? If the media gag order was supposedly for the protection of the child, as was claimed, why is that no longer a concern of yours? I guess the need to protect the image of the Lins e Silvas and Bianchis is more important now, once you saw they were losing the battle in the court of public opinion.
And just a brief comment about your strategy of writing a slanderous article about David Goldman and claiming you tried to contact him for his side of the story. When did you call him, the evening before you published? Presumably you had been working on this story for at least a few days. To pretend you made a sincere effort to contact David is difficult to believe.
By publishing a one-sided hit job on David Goldman it is apparent you're trying to turn this case into a he-said-she-said regarding David and Bruna's marital situation. That's tabloid journalism at its finest. This is a story about a man who wants his son back, a son who was abducted by his late wife and was never held accountable.
That crime is being perpetuated by João Paulo and Paulo Lins e Silva, who are using their legal knowledge and influence in the Brazilian judiciary to manipulate the court proceedings and circumvent the laws they pretend to defend. How disgusting!
One day, after Sean is finally returned home, history will look back on this case, and it will not look back kindly. Not only will people come to understand the human rights and children's rights violations that the Lins e Silva and Bianchi families perpetrated, but also how many in the Brazilian media aided in these illegal, immoral, and inhuman acts of two corrupt and arrogant families by not reporting the facts of the case.
Article being referenced: