Brazilian Custody Battle: N.J. Congressman Bargains for Boy's Release

Brazilian courts deliberate, congressman threatens Brazil for U.S. boy's return.

ByABC News via logo
June 4, 2009, 9:22 PM

June 9, 2009 — -- While Brazilian courts deliberate the constitutionality of returning kidnapped U.S. boy Sean Goldman to his father David, one U.S. congressman is floating the idea of imposing harsh trade restrictions on Brazil until the boy is back in his father's custody.

Goldman will travel to Brazil Tuesday night to attend the Supreme Court hearing tomorrow regarding the custody of his son Sean, Rep. Chris Smith (D-N.J.) told ABC News.

"Moral persuasion only goes so far," Smith told "Good Morning America" today. "They need to follow the Hague Convention. This is probably the quintessential case of child kidnapping. ... They have failed. ... What else is left?

"We have to say that preferential trade ... will be suspended from Brazil unless they resolve the Goldman case and get on the right path for other outstanding cases."

Smith's unorthodox proposal would cost Brazil billions of dollars in duty-free benefits in one year alone, Smith said.

"I wrote human trafficking laws; they have to have economic bite," Smith said. "Using trade [as a] lever gets the attention of offending countries."

While David Goldman's crusade to get his son back has topped headlines recently, his case is one of more than 60 cases of child abduction in Brazil and nearly 2,000 around the world.

"[David Goldman] has helped so many other people by his bravery and tenacity," Smith said. "It takes pressure on the highest levels to say, 'This is a matter of fundamental human rights and justice.'"

For the father who has been battling the Brazilian government for nearly five years to bring his kidnapped son back to the United States, getting back on the plane to New Jersey without Sean last week was devastating, especially when he had come so close.

"It's very lonely," Goldman told "Good Morning America" this morning, shortly after landing at the Newark Liberty International Airport after a judge unexpectedly reversed a decision that had given Goldman custody of his now 9-year-old son.

Sean has been living with his stepfather since the 2008 death of his mother Bruna Bianchi, who took Sean to her native Brazil on vacation in 2004 and never returned. She divorced Goldman while in Brazil and married Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, a Rio de Janeiro lawyer.

Goldman had been awarded custody of Sean last week, but a single judge from Brazil's Supreme Court then suspended a lower court's order that the boy immediately be returned to his father.

"I'm going to keep the fight like I always have," Goldman said. "There's only one choice and that's to keep going until my son comes home [to New Jersey].