One day after a New York judge ruled that Kelly Rutherford had to send her children back to live with their father in Monaco, the actress is speaking out on what she called a “shocking” turn of events.
Rutherford said she thinks sending her two children — son Hermes, 8, and daughter Helena, 6 — to live with her ex-husband Daniel Giersch abroad is a violation of her children’s rights as American citizens.
“Judge Ellen Gesmer effectively arrested my children, claiming she had authority under habeas corpus to take them into custody because of a foreign country’s court order,” she wrote in a statement to ABC News. “Knowing she had no authority, Judge Gesmer seized my children and their U.S. passports, and forced them to leave the United States and reside in Monaco, a country where neither they nor I, nor even their father, has citizenship.”
The former “Gossip Girl” star, who just spent the summer with her two children in the U.S., added that she tried to comfort her kids, as they were handed off to Giersch’s mother to immediately fly back to Monaco and reunite with their father. Rutherford also said in her statement that she and her legal team have asked the U.S. State Department for help in this matter, to no avail.
Rutherford was supposed to send the children back on Friday, but released a statement over the weekend that she had decided against it.
Giersch’s legal team fired back over the weekend and sent the actress a letter, demanding that Rutherford send the children back to Monaco immediately, followed by a filing in New York County Supreme Court.
Rutherford claimed today that Giersch lied in his court filing, saying he did not know where the kids were.
“I told him in writing repeatedly that the children were in New York, safe with me. He Skyped with the children and talked to them many times during the periods when he claimed he did not know the their whereabouts, or whether they were safe. It was all lies to persuade the court to issue an emergency order,” she added.
Giersch’s attorney Fahi Takesh Hallin responded to these comments today, saying, “[Daniel] repeatedly asked her where the children were — multiple times per day and she refused to tell him. Finally, the judge forced her to reveal the children’s location while we were in court as she was concealing them.”
Rutherford’s lengthy custody battle has been ongoing since 2012, when a California judge sent the children to live temporarily in France with Giersch, whose U.S. visa had been revoked. The 46-year-old actress has been trying to bring the children back to the U.S. for years, but neither California nor New York court claimed to have jurisdiction in that case.
Referring to Judge Gesmer’s decision on Tuesday, Rutherford added: “It was the most cruel act against a child I have ever witnessed in my entire life and the fact that it happened to American children at the hands of an American judge, in a United States courtroom is just inconceivable.”
The actress also cited several legal precedents that she and her legal team say show that it was not valid to send her kids back to Monaco. She also disagreed with the judge’s ruling that the kids were “habitual residents” of Monaco and not the United States.
“It is profoundly disturbing that a judge in an American court of law would denigrate this country’s Constitution, and my children’s precious citizenship rights, in favor of an illegal declaration from a foreign country, especially where no government official in that foreign country has expressed an interest in enforcing that illegal declaration, or otherwise forcing my children to leave the United States,” the statement added, noting that the hearing in Monaco is set for Sept. 3 to determine whether it has jurisdiction.
“This case is simple. My ex-husband and I, and the California court, agreed in 2012 that the children’s court-ordered stay abroad would be temporary, and that they would reside with their father briefly, solely to accommodate him while he undertook to resolve his U.S. work visa problems,” she wrote. “He did nothing whatsoever to resolve his visa issues for three years, while my children and I waited patiently for some U.S. court to say ‘that’s enough time.'”
Rutherford closed her statement by affirming that she will continue to fight to regain custody of her two children.
“As for Judge Gesmer, she has to live with herself, and if she has a conscience, I suspect she will not sleep well, ever again,” Rutherford said.
After the ruling on Tuesday, Giersch’s attorney also told ABC News, “We are pleased that the American judicial system has prevailed. Daniel’s request to exclude the press today from the courtroom was granted, to protect the children’s privacy. In addition, his stance of promoting Kelly’s time with the children has not changed.”
Judge Ellen Gesmer did not respond immediately to a request by ABC News for comment about Rutherford’s latest statement.