SOURCE: AMC Public Relations

April 04, 2012 00:00 ET

AMC Public Relations Issues Announcement: Four American Children Kidnapped From Italy; Being Held Hostage in Religious Institutions in St. Petersburg, Russia

FLORENCE, ITALY--(Marketwire - Apr 4, 2012) - After losing custody of her four American children in a Florence courtroom, Marianne Grin (46), allegedly kidnapped the children from her ex-husband and custodial father, Michael McIlwrath, on August 29, 2011. She fled to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she isolated the four children from family and friends in a religiously operated home for orphans and troubled children, operated by the Chabad-Lubavitch organization.

Grin, who is described as having a "severely disturbed personality" and "paranoid delusions," poses a danger to the children according to the court-appointed psychologist who cited reports from teachers, doctors, social services and police authorities during the couple's divorce proceedings (2009-2010). The judge granted McIlwrath sole custody of their four children in December 2010, with unsupervised visitation rights for Grin.

At the time of the abduction, the children ranged in age from five-to-13-years-old. They are currently being harboured in the religious-operated Yeshiva, and the daughter, who is only nine-years-old, was separated from her brothers and placed in an institution for girls from troubled homes. Neither organization is a licensed school.

Officials operating both institutions acknowledge that the isolation of these four children lacks legal justification; however, they claim to be carrying out Grin's instructions to deny the children visitation, incoming or outgoing phone calls, or mail from family and friends. Three of the children have had their birthdays during captivity.

"The Russian authorities need to understand and appreciate the grave danger my children are in if this current situation continues," says McIlwrath. "These are healthy, well-adjusted children who do not belong in orphanages or institutions for troubled children. They belong in Florence with their family, their friends and their community. I am very concerned that my ex-wife may do something terrible, even unspeakable to our children."

The children's maternal grandmother, Inessa Grin, has documented concerns about what may happen to the children, and has urged the Italian courts to protect them from her daughter. These concerns are well founded. In a case bearing similarities, Elke Mellersh, a mother who also suffered from paranoid delusions, killed herself and her two children in November 2011, after abducting them and fleeing to Turkey.

In July 2011, Russia signed the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction; however, Russian authorities state they have yet to implement it. An agreement exists between Russia and Italy for the recognition of civil judgments, but to date, the Russian courts have refused to implement the Italian decree. Russia is also a party to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that children should not be denied access to their family and friends.

According to Italian Government statistics, sole custody is awarded to fathers in fewer than two percent of cases in Italy. In the case of the McIlwrath children, the judge granted McIlwrath sole custody and imposed a monitoring period during which the court-psychologist and social services observed the stable environment provided by the father. Notable improvements in the children's academic performance, behaviour and relationships were observed as well. The same authorities noted that Grin's behaviour had deteriorated further, becoming increasingly "bizarre" and dangerous. This led to confirmation of the sole custody awarded, which was finalized in June 2011. Grin abducted the children two months later.

For a detailed account of events, background information and related articles in the American, Russian and Italian media, please visit:

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