October 11, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
It is now time... No, I’m wrong; it’s is far past time for the news media to start telling the truth about the Kelly Rutherford/Daniel Giersch child custody case. To date, outside of this blog, I can think of no article anywhere that has even attempted to convey the facts of the case in a balanced manner. Amazingly, the situation gets worse, not better. The more wrongdoing Kelly Rutherford engages in, the more the news media distort matters to suit her view of things. Case in point, this article (Vanity Fair, 11/2015).
Here, here, and here are posts I’ve done on the Rutherford case than now spans some five years and counting. For those readers who’ve been living under the polar ice cap for that time, one-time TV actress Kelly Rutherford and German businessman Daniel Giersch were married for a short time and had two children, Hermes and Helena who are now 9 and 6 respectively.
During their long and very public divorce and custody battle, Rutherford’s lawyer, Matthew Rich, called the U.S. State Department in an attempt to get Giersch deported. He then handed Giersch’s lawyer a “Stipulation” agreeing that Giersch would have no visitation rights with his children. Giersch declined the offer, but, one month later, was deported. He now lives in Monaco. The Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, Teresa Beaudet, ordered full joint legal and physical custody to Giersch and Rutherford with the children living most of the time with Giersch in Monaco. They’re with Rutherford about 28% of the time in the U.S. and she flies six times per year, at Giersch’s expense, to see them abroad. Most recently, back in August, Rutherford decided to violate the court’s order and kept them here rather than returning them to their father. She was immediately ordered to comply with the existing court order, and the kids went home.
In short, the case is all but closed. There’s a hearing in Monaco later this month, but if there are any observers who expect it to go well for Rutherford, they’re keeping quiet about it. Put simply, the overwhelming weight of evidence demonstrates that Beaudet’s order was the correct one and that Kelly Rutherford has been, throughout the custody case and in fact before, bent on denying Giersch any but the most minimal role in his children’s lives, if that.
You’d never know any of that by the Vanity Fair piece. Its author, Sheila Weller, announces her extreme anti-Giersch bias from the start and never lets up. Oh, she’s just scrupulous enough to make offhand references to facts that contradict her thesis that, in some way, for some reason, a California judge shafted poor innocent Kelly. But time and again, Weller carefully tiptoes around those facts, the better to pose Rutherford as a victim.
Victim? Really? As I’ve said before, here’s a mother with joint legal and physical custody and about 28% of the parenting time with her kids. Those are things the vast majority of fathers would fall on their knees in thanksgiving if a family court were to order in their cases. But when it’s Kelly Rutherford, for some reason, that same order supposedly constitutes some grave injustice.
It doesn’t. The fact is that she’s lucky Judge Beaudet gave her what she did. But again, you’d never know it from Weller’s screed. Indeed, to read Beaudet’s findings and Weller’s article is to court a form of mental vertigo. The two stories have little to do with each other.
For example, Weller describes the Rich incident thus:
Standing in the hall outside the courtroom, Rich whipped out his cell phone, called the State Department to, as he puts it, follow up on prior conversations with them regarding “information they had that Giersch was in the country unlawfully and was thus a risk for abducting his children.” Rich claims that he thought State Department agents might be dispatched to arrest Giersch.
Judge Beaudet found the facts to be just a bit different.
-On December 12, 2011, in the courthouse, Kelly's counsel, Matthew Rich, in her presence, advised Daniel and his counsel that he was on the telephone with the State Department, and stated that he had called the State Department.
-On December 12, 2011, in the presence of Kelly and in the hallway of the courthouse, Mr. Rich stated to Daniel's counsel and Daniel that he was contacting the State Department to have Daniel arrested and/or deported...
-When Mr. Rich approached Daniel and his counsel in the courthouse hallway on December 12, 2011, and told them he had the State Department on the line and urged that Daniel be arrested, Kelly was sitting on a bench close to where Daniel and counsel were standing. She did not stop Mr. Rich from making the call asking that Daniel be arrested.
-In the presence of Daniel's counsel, Mr. Rich claimed to be on the telephone with the State Department. He stated into the phone, "He's lied and said he has a valid Visa, he's about to kidnap the kids." "Why aren't you here arresting him?" "Daniel Giersch is here now for you to arrest him right now. Come and arrest him right now." Kelly was sitting across from Daniel's counsel and Mr. Rich in the hallway when this happened.
In short, Rutherford knew exactly what her lawyer was doing, but never intervened. Astonishingly, in Weller’s article, Rutherford didn’t even know who Rich was, despite his being her lawyer.
Rutherford insists she had never seen him before, nor did she know (much less approve of) what he was going to do.
But in fact, as Judge Beaudet found,
-During these events, and with Kelly's other counsel, Ms. Boultinghouse, also present in the back of the courtroom, Kelly confirmed that she was choosing to have Mr. Rich continue to represent her that day, instead of Ms. Boultinghouse...
So Rutherford and Weller want us to believe that the lawyer she heard discussing her case with Giersch’s lawyer in the hallway and who worked with her everyday lawyer, Ms. Boultinghouse, was a complete stranger to her. He was such a stranger that she just happened to choose him as her counsel for the hearing in court a matter of minutes later. Really.
It gets worse and less believable. That’s because Rich wanted to exchange his calling of the State Department for Giersch’s signature on the Stipulation that would have denied him any physical contact with Hermes and Helena.
-Mr. Rich then handed Daniel's counsel a Stipulation and Order Re: Child Visitation, with Kelly sitting next to him, requesting that Daniel and his counsel agree via that stipulation that Daniel "shall not have any visitation with the minor children HERMES GIERSCH and HELENA GIERSCH until further order of the court." Mr. Rich told Daniel's counsel that if Daniel signed the Stipulation the "problem" would go away. Kelly was sitting next to where Mr. Rich was standing when he said this; she did not stop Mr. Rich from providing the Stipulation to counsel.
Of course, none of that made it into Weller’s account of the incident. Not a word. What else she chose not to mention is that Rutherford lied about it, as the court found.
-Kelly acknowledged in her July 19, 2012 testimony that the stipulation "was put in front of [her]" by Mr. Rich that day. She also admitted to Dr. Aloia (as noted in his July 6, 2012 report at page 32) that she was aware of the stipulation, "but it was not forever." The Court notes that in Kelly's earlier testimony in January 27, 2012, her counsel, Crystal Boultinghouse, asked her if she had "seen that stipulation at all prior to seeing it in [the] paperwork presented by petitioner" in connection with that January 27, 2012 hearing; she said "No." The Court finds Kelly's July 19, 2012 testimony, rather than her January 27, 2012 testimony, to be truthful.
So in fact, Rutherford knew Rich, knew what he was doing, chose to allow him to do it and then lied about the incident under oath. Weller never acknowledges those obvious facts, nor does she address why they’re important. And that, after all, is the core of the case. I’ll deal with that and more in my next post.
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