Fighting for Liam: Michael McCarty Journeys to Italy in Hopes of Regaining Custody of Son

Despite father's legal custody, 8-year-old son remains in Italy.

ByABC News via logo
September 10, 2009, 8:35 PM

Sept. 11, 2009— -- For most Americans, a trip to Italy would mean a romantic getaway. But for Michael McCarty, who has made about a dozen trips to Italy over the past two years, his latest trek was anything but an escape.

That's because he was desperately trying to bring back what means the most to him in the world: his 8-year-old son, Liam. McCarty's ex-wife, Manuela McCarty, took Liam to her native country more than two years ago, and he's been fighting to get Liam back ever since.

McCarty recently made yet another trip to Italy to visit his son, whom he hadn't seen in months. Though he knew that he couldn't win custody on this trip, McCarty still had high hopes for the scheduled visit.

But these hopes were quickly dashed.

McCarty said there were about a dozen security guards and a throng of Italian reporters present during the visit. Also present were Liam's mother and grandmother, both visibly upset and disruptive, according to McCarty.

"The mother was there screaming, the grandmother was there screaming," he said. "In the middle of that was my son."

Perhaps worst of all, when McCarty finally caught a glimpse of Liam, the son he's been working so hard to get back, he did not exactly come running with open arms.

"He yelled at me, [saying] that I was a bad person and walked back inside. It was … you know I just don't know why they are doing this to him," said the distraught McCarty during the trip.

McCarty told "GMA" today that he learned from recent documents that his son had been kept up all night before the visit.

Liam's reaction is "not surprising under the circumstances … the pressures that are being put upon him," he said. "He's being shuttled around from place to place, he does not know whom to trust."

McCarty said that the Italian courts are aware that "there's a problem."

"It's very clear to them at this point he's traumatized," he said.

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