Oscar Maldonado, Contributing Reporter

Public meeting of the Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Minorias to discuss the Sean Goldman case, back in April, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom.
Public meeting of the Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Minorias to discuss the Sean Goldman case, back in April, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom.

RIO DE JANEIRO – A custody battle case that has captured the attention of local and American press has once again made headlines. Sean Goldman, the 9 year-old boy that is at the center of a somewhat big international incident will remain in Brazil for now.

The decision came as a surprise last week (June 2nd), since a federal judge ordered the child’s return to the United States to join his father, former model David Goldman the previous day.

The judge’s decision ordered the delivery of Sean to the American Consulate in Rio for a smooth handover to his father. Also, the decision gave the right to Sean’s Brazilian family (his stepfather, grandparents and other relatives) to travel to the U.S. and accompany Sean while he adjusts to life in the country.

However, the procedure came to a halt when a Supreme Court call on the 3rd overruled the original mandate. It is argued that the sudden change of court decision came due to influence of the Brazilian Progressive Party. Also, intense family lobbying -that included street campaigns and other strategies- influenced the surprise ruling.

The Goldman case states that according to The Hague Convention resolutions, in the case of abducted children moved from one country to another; judiciary rulings must be sorted out and enforced by the country from which the person was abducted, not in the country of later residence. However, Sean’s Brazilian family argues that Sean’s adaptation in the U.S. wouldn’t be fit and that The Hague’s resolutions consider exceptions in cases of child well being. According to Sean grandmother, Sean will be better taken care of in Brazil.

Following her split with Goldman and while in Brazil, Sean’s mother Bruna Bianchi married Carioca lawyer João Paulo Lins e Silva. After Bruna’s death last year during labor complications for his second child, Lins became Sean’s caretaker. He has stated that it is in the child’s best interest the company, affection and love of his Brazilian family.

Bruna and David Goldman met in Italy while he was working as a model and she was studying arts. They married and soon moved to in the United States. Thus Sean was born in that country. Problems began when the boy came from the United States to Brazil in 2004 with her mother. The travel was supposed to be temporary, but Bruna and the child never returned to the United States.

The case has had important repercussions and it has even been discussed in high ranks of the Brazilian and U.S. governments. It has gone as far as David Goldman’s request to U.S. President Barack Obama for help with the case. Goldman expressed sore feeling regarding the Supreme Court ruling, saying the decision is “heartbreaking and disgraceful”.

On the Brazilian side, President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva spoke about the case, informally mentioning that The Hague’s resolutions should be respected. In Rio de Janeiro, the city where Sean is currently living, a local support base has formed in favor of the kid remaining in Brazil. Street manifestations with banners saying “Sean é brasileiro” (Sean is Brazilian) have been displayed in influential city quarters.

U.S. and Brazilian media have exploited the case heavily. There have been biased and side-taking positions in each country, with some Brazilian press pressing in favor of the family and some U.S. media outlets demanding the return of Sean home in New Jersey where his father lives. Also, major media powerhouses like The New York Times and O Globo have taken interest in following the development of the story.


  1. This is outrageous! Brazil’s courts MUST release Sean Goldman to his father immediately. This is nothing but a defiant step father (lins e silva) being a very cold and calculated man keeping a loving and adoring father from his beloved son. Stop with the appeals and dragging this out any further than need be.

    It angers me to no end that this little boy was kidnapped and kept against his will in Brazil.

    Brazil and the US signed a treaty/Hague Convention. This boy MUST BE RETURNED TO HIS NATURAL FATHER, DAVID GOLDMAN, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

    Never in my life have I ever heard of such a disgraceful act by a country involving a child.

    Sean belongs with his father, David. God Bless them forever.

  2. let the kid grow up in rio , when he is older he can always visit new jersy, nothing will ever change in new jersy ,,,,,,,,

  3. The Sean Goldman case is a child abduction case, plain and simple and Sean should be with his ONLY father David Goldman!!! The Lins e Silvas and Bianchis are causing emotional and psychological damage to Sean by filling his head with LIES about his father, hence, practicing parental alienation. Brazil is a non-compliant country and since the world is now watching, they are learning how corrupt and non-compliant Brazil is. The only reasons the Lins e Silvas and Bianchis have gotten this far is because they are wealthy and powerful but this injustice will end! They continue to carry on with an abudction and they are as much to blame as Sean’s mother. Sadly, Sean is not the only child abduction case. There are 50+ children who have been kidnapped to Brazil. Brazil will be known as a country harboring abudctions. Is that what you want Brazil? Sean and David Goldman are father and son, nothing and noone can take that away!

  4. Sean won’t stay 9 years old forever…..have his Brazilian abductors not even considered what could happen when Sean grows up?

  5. This is not uncommon. I am a Canadian citizen as is my daughter. Her father was never present at her birth. I have Canadian custody documents. I travelled to the US for work as an engineer. Back and forth for a few years. As my daughter was not yet of school age she stayed with my family in Canada to be cared for or my family and my daughter travelled with me. I was fortunate enough to be able to work in Texas where her father was at the time as he moved around and travelled quite a bit. I thought that this was amazing as she could establish some type of relationship or actually “know” her father. She travelled back and forth. Her father is in the restaurant industry and works quite ofter. While in Dallas and my daughter was in Canada with my family I became sick and was immediately diagnosed with advanced staged colon cancer. It all happened so quick and ALL my family travelled from Canada to Dallas including my daughter so I could continue treatment there in Dallas. Things health wise were severe and I could no longer work and was legally obligated to return to Canada and of course my daughter was too. Her father then kidnapped her and filed a protective order preventing me from returning to Canada. Two months later I returned. He then filed for custody in Dallas. I had a valid Canadian order for custody etc…and the child had no US legal status to even live in the US. There is an agreement between Ontario Canada and specifically Dallas Texas to honor each others custody orders. The courts there would not recognize my orders. The father had no interest in the child but continued to have the courts order me around there and to go so far as to order me to live there with the child or leave the child there. Again her father never even applied for any US documentation. The orders coming out of the Dallas family courts do not even have the childs legal name on them. The judge has stated in transcript that her “legal name is irrelevent”. I was harassed by police friends of his for small things about not having a Texas drivers license and down to threatening to deport me with out the child. He then again kidnapped her and I bailed back to Canada where I have legal custody as well as we are both citizens and had been the childs legal residence. The entire time I was in Dallas I was alone other then when my family was present, sick, has a full time home nurse and was taking care of a minor child. He has admitted to not fulfulling his visitation obligations. In fact he had only seen the child for 24 single day visits in exactly 8 years. He has agreed that this is “about right”. While in Canada there was finally a final hearing regarding custody. He was awarded custody by default as I was not present and periodic child support payments. But when it came time to the family court judge actually signing the order she would not. A new judge Tena Callaghan was elected and upon taking the bench she signed the final order and assisted the father in placing charges against me. I was charged with felony “Parental Interference” while I lived in Canada with my daughter. Who is now 14 and has NEVER lived with her father. But in original court documents in Dallas he claimed she was born there, had always lived with him at his address and it was her habitual residence. None of it was true but the court overlooked it because it served their purpose.

    I attended the criminal trial and was found NOT GUILTY and then was directed over to the family court where the judge gave me an option go to jail or bring the now 14 year old to Dallas. I chose jail where I was hospitalized for cancer related issues. I stayed but eventually my daughter chose to go to Dallas to get me out of jail as the judge stated over and over she would “listen” to who my daughter wants to live with as she is of age. Let me remind you they did not have the legal authority to make these decisions to begin with. My daughter went to Dallas August 26th 2009 and she has yet to speak to the judge. Upon her arrival her father informed her that she would never speak to the judge and that she could not speak or see her mother per the judge. This was not correct and I had to get the police involved just to have phone access. She has stated to him over and over she wants to go home as well as to a psycholigist that he was court ordered to take her to weekly. She has been there 6 weeks and he has taken her once. The psychologist even informed her father to get my daughter a cell phone which he refuses to do so she can speak with me without interruption. He is trying to force her to use his name which is not the childs legal name though he claims it to be. SHe is 14 years old, an honor student who attented one of the top private schools. Was on student council and a star basketball player. He now has he going to a Dallas inner city school. Upon her arrival both he and his wife sat her down at a table all night I was told (she arrived after midnight). And proceeded to tell her lie after lie about the situation and her mother. My daughter at several times has been close to a breakdown.

    This situation in Brazil is very very very unfortunate and wrong. I could only imagine and I am in a simular situation. But you all must realize The US is nortorious for taking over custody cases that they have no right being involved in. For years I was held hostage in Dallas for my child who to this day has no legal right to live in the United States.

    I have recently done a Hague application. Wish me luck. But there needs to be a change an overhaul. But I can tell you Brazil will not allow that child to come back to the US because they are afraid from the beginning that they would never see that child again. The grandparents. The US holds on tight and it causes problems. Other countries recognize this. I am sorry for both his child and my child. But there needs to be a change in the family court judges in the US. Nothing will permit the grandparents of that child in Brazil to ever be able to see that child again had they just handed the child over. I am sorry for all involved. It did not need to happen

  6. I have long wanted to visit Brazilian and am a great fan of Brazilian music and culture. However, I believe the world community should boycott travel to Brazil and Brazilian tourism until Sean Goldman is rightfully returned to his father David Goldman. The continued separation of this son from his rightful father – and the Brazilian government’s support of illegal kidnapping – is a disgrace.

  7. Candy, is there a point? Since when do the grandparents trump a father’s custody right? The kid was taken illegally out of the US, he had been given custody, the grandmother refused to return the boy and you’re complaining about how unfair the American family court system is. I do legal work in Bahia and Recife, and I can tell you that as lacking as our overburdened system might be, Brazil’s is inefficient and corrupt…it is owned by the rich. Your ex might be an A-hole, but you had a kid with him and now you want him to disappear? Next time wear a rubber because he ain’t going away.

  8. ALL I hear is “his father his poor father”…what about the poor little boy?? He is not being held by crazy kidnappers they are his FAMILY! Has everyone forgotten he has a sister who I’m sure he loves and BLOOD reltives. I have children and I believe his father can come up with something better than the same snatch and run job the Mother pulled. SHAME on all the adults; does anyone really care about this boy?? If you put his poor soul above all maybe you’d see his Father in a bit diffrent light! All efforts should revolve around the child ONLY!! That should mean both parties working together in both counties so he will suffer the least possible trauma. If David Goldman has to put that family up in his basement for a year or allow Sean to visit during the summer he ought to bend over backward, not for them, for his son!


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