October 18, 2021

AG asks Indiana Supreme Court to take adoption neglect case

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general’s office has asked the state’s highest court to take up a case involving a former couple accused of abandoning their adopted daughter.

The attorney general's office has requested the Indiana Supreme Court reverse an appeals court decision involving Michael and Kristine Barnett, according to WLFI-TV.

They were charged in 2019 with neglect of a dependent for allegedly leaving their daughter Natalia in an apartment and moving to Canada. They adopted the girl, who has dwarfism and is from the Ukraine, in 2010. Authorities say a doctor who examined the girl that year estimated her age as 8 years old. Before leaving, the couple legally changed her age to 22. They claimed she was posing as an adult. The case generated international headlines.

The attorney general's office wants the state's high court to reverse an Aug. 25 decision by the Indiana Appeals Court finding the Barnetts can't be prosecuted for neglect of a dependent based on their adopted daughter’s age. The attorney general's office says the re-aging petition was signed without a hearing or legal representation for their daughter’s interests.

The couple divorced in 2014. Messages left Sunday for their attorneys were not immediately returned.

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