Asbury Park Press
State Dept. Meeting Leaves Dad Encouraged
by Bill Handelman
February 28, 2009

avid Goldman, whose son Sean is the central figure in an international abduction and custody case, came away from a meeting Thursday with high-level State Department officials feeling he was gaining support.

“I’m grateful they’re standing with me,” he said after meeting in Washington with Assistant Secretary of State Janice Jacobs and four other officials.

Jacobs, who reports directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also confirmed an NBC-TV report that her boss made it her first order of business Wednesday to discuss the case with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who was in Washington for a scheduled meeting.

Clinton told the foreign minister the U.S. appreciated that the case was now in the Brazilian federal court system. Amorim replied that he was hopeful the case would be resolved, but in the end it was up to the courts. He noted it was “very positive” that the case had moved to the federal level.

Twenty-four hours later, Goldman and his Red Bank attorney, Patricia Apy, were sitting down with five high-ranking officials from the State Department.

“Our meeting went very well,” Goldman said. “They’re not going away. They’re staying in this until it’s resolved. And their idea of resolution is having Sean home.”

Bruna Goldman, Sean’s mother, took the little boy to Brazil on June 16, 2004. She was going on a two-week vacation to Brazil, her native country. When she got there, she called her husband and told him she was never coming back to New Jersey, and she wanted custody of Sean, who was 4 years old at the time. Bruna got a divorce in Brazil, married a prominent lawyer in 2007, then died after giving birth to a daughter last summer. David Goldman did not see his son again until he was granted visitation rights on his last trip to Brazil, the seventh time he has been there since 2004.

“To me, this is about my son,” he said after the meeting Thursday. “To the people from the State Department, it’s about my son and all the other children who have been abducted”.

David Goldman’s ordeal became a high-profile case only recently, after NBC’s Dateline aired a one-hour program in prime time on Jan. 30.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., saw the show, got in touch with Goldman, and accompanied him on his next trip to Brazil, Feb. 4. Goldman saw his son five days later, Feb. 9.

Smith introduced a resolution in the House before he left for Brazil. The next day, Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both D-N.J., introduced a resolution in the Senate. Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., contacted Clinton. Meanwhile, 37,000 people signed the on-line petition on bringseanhome.org, the Web site run by friends and supporters of David Goldman.

Since he returned from Brazil, Goldman has been shuttling back and forth from his home in Tinton Falls to Washington and New York, participating in meetings and doing interviews.

“He is his own best advocate,” Smith said Thursday. “Things are going well. There are still potential glitches. The other side could always come up with an unexpected and duplicitous strategy.”

“But all the key players in our government and their government have been apprised of the situation. I think when you push with purpose and clarity and maintain a team concept, things move along.”

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on March 17.

“We’ve touched every base possible,” Smith said. “President Lula’s scheduled visit helps. It adds pressure for the right outcome. If he comes to (Capitol) Hill, it’ll be my first question to him — and my second, and my third.”

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