Kelly Rutherford Feared Abduction During Custody Battle

Sep 14, 2012 9:48am
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Actress Kelly Rutherford, who is involved in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband who lives in France and was given custody of their two children, said that during their divorce she feared he would abduct their kids.

Rutherford, who portrays the glamorous matriarch Lily Van der Woodsen on the hit series “Gossip Girl,” had joint custody with her ex-husband Daniel Giersch of their two kids, ages 3 and 5. On August 28, Judge Theresa Beaudet ordered the two American children to move to France because Giersch – who is a German citizen — was expelled from the United States.

Speaking on “Good Morning America” today, Rutherford said that during the contentious divorce proceedings that began between the two in 2009, she feared that Giersch would abduct the children.

“I brought this up and it was basically — brushed off, like it was nothing,” she told “GMA.”

In 2009, when Rutherford was two months pregnant with their second child, Helena, she apparently suspected Giersch was cheating on her and sought a divorce.  The divorce made headlines as it got uglier, and the two hurled accusations at each other. Rutherford didn’t include Giersch’s name on Helena’s birth certificate.

In April of this year, for reasons that are still unclear, Giersch’s American visa was revoked and he was forced to leave the country. Since, Rutherford has been traveling with the kids to Bermuda, Canada and France, among other places, to afford him visitation – until last month, when Judge Beaudet ruled that the kids live with him in France.

“The best interests of the children will be served because the relocation plan for France is the only plan that offers the possibility of nearly equal parenting time while Giersch cannot return to the U.S.,” Judge Beaudet said.

ABC News Legal Analyst Dan Abrams said on “GMA” today that he feels Judge Beaudet “acted as a travel agent here in determining what the easiest travel is for these kids.”

“The judge said that it’s easier to keep the kids in France, rather than Kelly bringing the kids to Bermuda or Canada or the other places where he can visit with them,” Abrams said. “This leads to the question  —  this means the kids are never coming back to the USA? And according to this ruling, there is nothing that would indicate that the kids can, should or will come back to the USA.”

Rutherford said that there are no plans for the return of her kids, who have now started school in France, where Rutherford says that Giersch’s mother’s boyfriend has a house

“I have no idea [when they're supposed to come back.] There  is no date set,” she said, “Their entire lives they’d lived in New York City, they were going to school in New York City. They’re American citizens. ”

Rutherford said that she is not entirely sure why Giersch’s visa was revoked.  People Magazine reported that he was accused of “dealing drugs and weapons,” while an affidavit presented in the case accused him of fraud.

“We don’t know,” she said. “I keep asking to get that information, and it’s refused. He refuses to say why.”

Giersch insists that Rutherford’s former lawyer informed the State Department of certain issues about Giersch’s “businesses” that ultimately led to his visa being revoked.

“There were allegations made, there are a lot of questions about how State Department started looking into this. There are questions whether the State Department started looking into this first, or did a lawyer for Kelly reach out to the State Department when there were concerns about possible abduction.  And that investigation led to his visa being revoked,” Abrams said.

Rutherford flies to France to see them whenever possible but has to keep working to afford her legal bills. She is now consulting with lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a legal adviser in the Elian Gonzalez custody battle, to get the children back in the country.

“I’m hoping that somehow, some way, this will help change the way the court makes their decision, maybe that’s why it’s happening,” she said. “I’m just thankful that everyone has taken an interest in it… I hope people continue to, because I think it will help create change and help get my kids home. I think the longer that this goes, the harder it is.”

ABC News’ Dan Abrams contributed to this report

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