Friday May 29, 2015
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By Andrea Peyser
May 29, 2015
Kelly Rutherford’s long international nightmare may soon be coming to an end. She’s thrilled.
So am I.
“This is about my kids,’’ she told me this week, exhausted, after getting off a plane in New York City from Europe, where Rutherford was barred from seeing daughter Helena, 5, and son Hermes, 8. “They’ve been through a lot,’’ she said. Yet she’d fight the kids’ father for their company until her last breath.
“I’d do it again,’’ she declared. “These are my kids!’’
Hopefully, she’s approaching the final chapter in an ugly tug-of-love involving two innocent American children, an American mother and her shady, German-born ex-husband.
The former “Gossip Girl’’ TV actress, 46, watched helplessly as her kids, lifelong New Yorkers, were temporarily ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Beaudet to live in France with their German-citizen father. This was not because Rutherford was deemed a lousy mom (a court-appointed law guardian thought she should retain custody), but because her ex, Daniel Giersch, 41, had his United States visa revoked and is forbidden, for murky reasons, by the US Department of State from setting foot on US soil.
That was three years ago.
Since then, the devastated mom has been forced to fly to Europe, in coach class, every three weeks, then four weeks, then six as travel became crushingly expensive, to see her children. In 2013, she filed for bankruptcy protection as her pricey legal battle, inability to work steadily and necessary globe-trotting took a financial and emotional toll.
Then a week ago, she showed up to visit the children. Despite the court-ordered joint-custody “parenting plan,’’ Rutherford was forbidden from seeing them by their father unless she handed over their passports to a “neutral’’ third party. Rutherford balked, saying that the party was one of Giersch’s lawyers.
Then, everything changed.
California Judge, Mark Juhas, who replaced the judge who ruled insanely that Rutherford should effectively lose her kids, on May 22 ordered that the children be immediately shipped back to the United States, and granted the mom temporary legal and physical custody.
“You’ve been so instrumental on this. You’ve been incredible. Thank you!’’ Rutherford said about my supportive column.
I should thank her, because her fight is for all good parents, of all genders, caught in an unmerciful legal system.
Giersch’s California lawyer was not in her office and a spokeswoman declined to comment on the ruling.
Rutherford married Giersch in 2006 and filed for divorce in 2009, when she was three-months pregnant with Helena, after she saw a text message that, she’s told me, led her to believe that he was sexually unfaithful. The couple divorced the next year.
So why can’t this character enter the United States?
According to court papers filed by Giersch’s side, Rutherford’s former lawyer ratted him out to the US government for alleged shady business dealings. An affidavit by an investigator alleged that Giersch used “fraud’’ to get his US visa and failed to pay taxes.
Whatever Giersch’s supposed failings, Rutherford has been punished. Giersch has failed to reapply for a new US visa, as the judge required him to do, with Rutherford’s help, a Department of State official told People magazine.
It’s not over yet.
A court hearing has been set for June 15 in Los Angeles. And a ruling against the mom in New York federal court, where Rutherford’s lawyer has argued that the children’s civil rights as American citizens were violated when they were sent to Europe, is under appeal. All eyes now are on the Monaco court. Will it enforce the California order, and let the kids come home?
In the meantime, Rutherford’s famous friends, including Melanie Griffith and Kim Kardashian, have voiced their support for her. A petition imploring President Obama’s administration to intervene in the case has drawn at least 100,000 signatures.
This madness has gone on long enough. Bring Kelly Rutherford’s kids back to this country.