Auckland Mum expected to plead guilty to kidnapping infant

February 5, 2015 1:52 pm
A former Auckland woman is expected to plead guilty to kidnapping her
infant daughter 20 years ago to start a new life in New Zealand and
, US media reports.
Dorothy Lee Barnett, 54, is charged
with one count of international parental kidnapping, and falsifying two
passport applications.
She allegedly fled the United States in
1994 with her then 10-month-old daughter Savanna Catherine Todd, who now
goes by the name of Samantha Geldenhuys, from South Carolina during a
court-approved visit.

Barnett initially went to South Africa,
where she married Juan Geldenhuys and later gave birth to son Reece, now
18, before moving to New Zealand and becoming a citizen. She later
moved to Australia in 2007.
She was arrested in Queensland in November 2013, where she was living as Alexandria
Geldenhuys.
Barnett
had earlier fought the charges, but after a failed bid to have the
counts dismissed, she is expected to enter a guilty plea during a court
appearance in Charlestown, South Carolina, next Tuesday local time
(Wednesday NZT), The Post and Courier reported.

She would then be sentenced by US District Judge Richard Gergel, according to court records seen by the newspaper.
She faces up to 30 years in prison.
Barnett’s lawyer Russell W Mace III said she was “hoping for a positive resolution to the case”, The Post and Courier said.
“My client is looking forward to completing this part of the criminal process.”
It’s understood Barnett indicated during a proceeding on Tuesday that she planned to change her plea.
Barnett
has been behind bars since her arrest more than 14 months ago, and her
supporters say her health has deteriorated during that time. She was
denied bail late last year, but still holds out hope of being reunited
with her daughter.
“She’s looking forward to seeing her daughter,
whether it’s in the courtroom or once she’s eventually released from
jail,” Mr Mace said.
Her daughter and friends in Australia have
publicly supported her, saying she was trying to protect Savanna when
she fled the US.
Barnett accused her former husband Benjamin
Harris Todd III of abuse during their divorce proceedings, but a judge
ruled there was no evidence of her claims and granted him full custody
of the child.
Barnett left her home with Savanna during a court-supervised visit in April 1994 and never returned.
The
former flight attendant was reported to have fled the US with the help
of Faye Yager, founder of shadowy organisation Children of the
Underground, which helped women escape allegedly abusive relationships.
Denying
bail last year, US Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant said in court
documents she “willfully and through a course of careful planning
abducted a minor child from the lawful custody of her father, left the
United States, and for the last 20 years has engaged in extensive travel
to various countries through the use of multiple false identification
documents in order to avoid detection”.

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