Brazilian In-Laws Ask David Goldman for Christmas Truce in Custody Fight

David Goldman said the treatment of his son has been "beyond cruel."

June 15, 2009, 9:22 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil Dec. 18, 2009 — -- New Jersey dad David Goldman today accused his Brazilian in-laws, who he has been battling for five years over custody of his son, of treatment that is "beyond cruel."

The in-laws responded today by inviting Goldman to spend Christmas Eve with 9-year-old Sean and his Brazilian family.

The invite came in news conference read by Sergio Tostes, the lawyer for the Brazilian family that has raised Sean for the past five years. The boy's maternal grandmother Silvana Bianchi sat next to Tostes during the news conference.

Tostes said the family is "putting down their guns," and didn't want to fight with Goldman over the boy's custody. The family said they want to have negotiations with Goldman, but on the condition that Sean not go to the United States right away. The boy, Tostes said, would be traumatized if he didn't spend Christmas with his Brazilian relatives.

Goldman has previously said he was uncomfortable meeting at the family's home. He's also said he doesn't want visitation rights, he wants his boy back.

Earlier today, Goldman told ABC News that he's not sure what it will take to bring Sean home, but that he'll do whatever he can to protect his son.

"It should be so simple shouldn't it? Just a parent and a child," he said. "Not two countries, not big governments, not judges. It's just the right of a parent and their child."

Goldman flew to Rio this week after Brazil's Supreme Court decision allowed him to take custody of his son, but within hours of landing on Thursday, Goldman received word that a judge sided with a petition filed by the boy's Brazilian family that Sean should remain in the country until it is decided whether he will testify in court.

Watch "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET for more stories of international child abduction

Goldman claimed his son has been "tortured," sleep deprived and psychologically abused by his Brazilian family's attempts to portray Goldman as the bad guy.

"He's being psychologically brainwashed," he said. "You cannot hug your father, you cannot love your father. Your father abandoned you."

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who is traveling with Goldman, said he would appeal the judge's decision to keep Sean in Brazil .

"He needs to come home, he needs to be freed from this," Goldman said. "He needs to be a little boy. He can't live with this pressure."

Goldman said he has seen Sean four times so far this year. The beginning of the visits, he said, are typically marred by the presence of the "big, hairy guy" who accompanies Sean. But once the two are alone, Goldman said the bond begins to return.

"And we would play, we would love, we would be father and son," he said.

"We do believe this will be overcome. There is an appeal that will happen today," Smith said. He added, "The chief justice of the Brazilian supreme court has it within his power to overturn this illogical and unethical stay by giving a boy back to his dad."

David Goldman Hopeful for Reunion With 9-Year-Old Son

Sean has been in Brazil since 2004, when he went on vacation with his mother, Bruna Bianchi, and never returned. Instead Bianchi remarried a politically connected lawyer and died giving birth last year.

The Hague convention requires children such as Sean who are unlawfully taken to other countries to be returned. But Bianchi's husband refused to send him back and a custody battle ensued.

"Everyone knows what is going on, everyone knows the abuse my son is being afflicted by and it is very, very sad. And I honestly believe that the justice system doesn't want to be looked at as a country that is a safe haven for kidnappers," Goldman said.

In response to the judge's ruling Thursday, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., placed a trade bill on hold -- a bill that that Brazil would benefit from, according to The Associated Press.

Sean's Brazilian family insists that the issue should remain between the two families, and that Sean wants to stay in his mother's native country.

"This is not a fight between two countries. There should not be any political issue involved. This is just the pursuit of the truth and the pursuit of what is in the best interest of the boy," Sergio Tostes, a lawyer representing Sean Goldman's stepfather, said.

Because the Brazilian Supreme Court is winding down its session, a ruling on whether the boy's testimony can be heard may not happen before February.

The Brazilian Supreme Court is still in session Friday in Brasilia, so Goldman's attorney must quickly file an appeal to the court and ask for what is essentially an emergency decision, Smith said Thursday.

Earlier, Goldman indicated when he arrived in Brazil yesterday that he wasn't convinced he would be able to leave with his son.

"I hope I can go home with my son," Goldman said when he landed in Rio de Janeiro.

He expressed similar sentiments on Wednesday after the court's initial ruling.

"I'm hopeful that now that the rule of law has appeared to be followed, that the rule of God, the rule of nature, the rule of human decency will be followed and my son will come home with me," Goldman said Wednesday.

"I would love to just take him in my arms and squeeze him and never let him go, but I know he has been under a lot of pressure from these people, and I will just do my best to be his dad," Goldman said.

Goldman spoke about a visit with his son on "Good Morning America" in June.

"It was so joyous," Goldman said. "And the only one question he asked me is, after we were talking, 'How come you haven't been here to see me in this time?' ... I just said, 'Sean, I've been here many times.'"

Hillary Clinton 'Pleased' by Court Ruling

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton previously raised the issue of the Hague Convention in connection with the case with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Goldman said the visits with his son were so emotionally difficult that he worried the stress from the excessively supervised visits could be damaging to Sean.

He said a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation has proved that his son has been subjected to what he called parental alienation.

Goldman said that he had no inkling of what the future held on the day he drove wife and son to airport five years ago.

"We all gave each other hugs and kisses," he said. "I waved goodbye with the blessings of a safe trip."

Since his ex-wife's death while giving birth to a second child, Goldman has fought for Sean's return, enduring a series of successes and setbacks, including winning custody in Brazilian courts only to see the decision delayed and then later upheld by the country's Supreme Court.

Katie Escherich, Brandy Zadrozny and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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