Indiana prosecutors have charged a couple with abandoning their adopted daughter, who was aged 11, but had her age legally charged to 22 and has dwarfism, in a rented apartment but providing her with no other financial support.
Tippecanoe County prosecutors filed neglect charges against Kristine Elizabeth Barnett, 45, and Michael Barnett, 43 for abandoning the Ukrainian girl 2013 and moving to Canada.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, the couple adopted the girl in 2010 and a doctor who examined her that year determined she was about 8 years old. When a detective spoke to Michael Barnett earlier this month, he said he and his wife had the girl's age legally changed to 22 in June of 2012 and that his wife told her to tell anyone who asked that she "looks young but was actually twenty-two."
Barnett told the detective that he and his wife rented an apartment in Lafayette in July 2013 and, despite knowing that the child knew no one in that city, they left her there and moved to Canada, investigators wrote in the affidavit. Barnett said that other than paying the apartment's rent, they provided the girl with no financial support.
The girl told a detective with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department in September 2014 that she had come to the US "through an adoption" in 2008 from her native Ukraine and that the Barnetts adopted her two years later. She said she lived with the Barnetts in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, for about two years, after which they rented the apartment for her in Lafayette, the Tippecanoe County seat about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis.
"She was left alone in the apartment in Lafayette while the rest of the Barnett family moved to Canada," investigators wrote in the affidavit, adding that the girl hasn't seen the Barnetts since.
The affidavit leaves a lot unclear, including how long the girl lived alone in the apartment before her plight was discovered and why an investigation that apparently began in September of 2014 took years to result in charges against the Barnetts. It also doesn't say where in Canada the Barnetts lived or whether they have since returned to the US, though the Barnetts have different addresses listed in Indianapolis.
The family previously made headlines when Kristine Bartlett published a book in 2014 about raising her son Jacob, who she described as a child physics prodigy with IQ higher than that of Albert Einstein. Jacob was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.
60 Minutes featured a piece on Jacob Barnett in 2012, and interviewed the family at home.The feature appeared to show the Barnetts' adopted Ukrainian daughter seated with the family at the dinner table.
The Barnetts had not been booked or arraigned as of Friday and online court records don't list an attorney for them.
Prosecutors did not respond to several questions emailed to them Friday about the case, saying only in a reply that they had asked a county judge to issue an order for the Barnetts to appear at an initial hearing on the charges.