The father of two was arrested in a discount store for shoplifting. At the police station, he told officers that someone should watch his kids, because he had no family or friends to take care of them while he was in jail.
Police officers arranged for a social worker to watch over the children for a few hours while their father posted bail and returned home. None of the officials involved realized at the time that they were handing those children back to a man accused of kidnapping them in a child custody dispute that ranged over two continents.
After Florida Sen. Bill Nelson read of the Greek mother and her two children abducted by her estranged husband, he appealed to Greece’s U.S. ambassador to help reunite the woman with her 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.
The woman’s husband is a former professor who almost a year ago abducted the children from Greece in violation of a Greek court’s order. The woman had been given full custody until their divorce was final.
She alleges he abused the children, making their son eat vomit and sleeping nude with their daughter.
After the abduction, the man took the children to Florida, finding an apartment in Largo. After a few weeks, the missing children were spotted by someone who alerted their mother.
By December, she had come to Florida, where a court ordered her husband to surrender the children to her. She and the kids then flew back home to Athens.
But three months later, the woman says, her husband was back in Greece and again snatched the children. This time, she has no idea where the three of them can be found.
In his statement, Nelson said the man is likely not going to return to the United States, but will instead choose a country that isn’t part of an international agreement to return children in these kinds of cases to the parents who were awarded custody.
Resource: St. Petersburg Times: “Sen. Bill Nelson seeks aid from Greece in reuniting mother with snatched children”: March 24, 2011