“The American” by João Paulo Lins e Silva

Bring Sean Home Comments: The letter below was posted on a page of an O Globo web site.

There are obvious falsehoods within this letter but the “theme” is what we find to be most disturbing. João Paulo initially refers to David by name and then switches to calling him “the American,” as if it’s a foul dirty word. Eighteen times he calls him “the American,” rather than David Goldman. Eighteen! As the letter progresses the jingoism and blatant xenophobia rises to a hysterical crescendo. The message here is not too subtle, João Paulo and his advisors are attempting to turn a Hague Convention child abduction case into some kind of patriotic war, Brazil vesus the evil super power, the United States. It is an attempt to Ignore the Law, Ignore the Abduction, Ignore the Truth but stir Brazilian public opinion into a frenzy of anti-American sentiment.

David Goldman’s Brazilian attorney, Ricardo Zamariola Jr. wrote a letter in response to the National Council of Children and Adolescent Rights. It reviews the case from the beginning up to an including March 14th 2009, referring to pages of documented case files! While it is a long document it details the injustices that have been dealt to David by the Brazilian judiciary as well as the lies and slanderous attacks on his character and interference in David’s rights as a parent.

A Memoranda response to this letter has been written by David Goldman’s US attorney, Patricia E. Apy and forwarded to the Brazilian media. It is devastating, revealing the true events as they occurred, the false sworn statements made by Bruna Goldman to the Brazilian judiciary, withholding and misrepresentation of legal documents, secret court filings, and the truth in the relationship between her and João Paulo Lins e Silva as well his statements herein. Please read this outrageous character assassination of “The American,” below and then read the legal, documented truth here.

To the National Council of Children and Adolescent Rights

João Paulo Lins e Silva
Rio de Janeiro, March 5, 2009

Even though I graduated more than ten years ago from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica’s Law School, I write these words to you not as a militant lawyer but as the father of two beloved children and as a 35 year-old widower. For this reason, I’m writing to you in an informal way in which my reasons are presented emotionally, since I couldn’t function as a lawyer without reason and without just reason.

I lived with and was officially married to Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro Lins e Silva for four and a half years.

Bruna studied Communication at PUC-Rio. After she graduated she did her Masters in Fashion in Milan, Italy. At the end of her last course, after four long years there, she met a North American named David George Goldman, who was living in the same building where Bruna lived and was working there as a model. After a few months of meeting each other, they began to date, in a long-distance relationship, since the North American lived in the United States and wasn’t available and wasn’t asked to do runway shows as frequently, due to his age.

The relationship lasted a few months. During this time Bruna traveled to the United States and Canada with her American boyfriend.

Two months after returning to Milan, Bruna discovered she was pregnant with her North American boyfriend’s child, who was conceived during the trip to Canada. Bruna told her boyfriend and her family. Since the contact between the two were rare due to the distance between them, and with her desire to be a mother growing, Bruna decided to give up Europe and moved to New Jersey, in the United States, with the purpose to give her child the chance to have a family.

Bruna, unfortunately, couldn’t imagine the suffering that she would soon experience.

Here I will explain some very personal facts that only a husband or close friends could actually know.

The relationship that worked well long-distance until then became a tragedy. The boyfriend, that would become a husband on account of the pregnancy, didn’t touch his wife anymore. During her pregnancy, even during their honeymoon, which would happen later with Bruna pregnant, there were no intimate relations between the couple.

During the last three years of living together, Bruna slept in a separate room from her ex-husband. She was anguished, in a deep depression, and cried every day. Fights were common and watched by little Sean, who was born in 2000 in the US but registered in the Brazilian Consulate and by the First Civil Registry of Naturalized Persons of Rio de Janeiro. It’s important to point out that this registry with the Brazilian Consulate took place three months after Sean’s birth, making him a Brazilian citizen like all of us, with all of the rights and obligations of a citizen born in Brazil, and when he becomes a legal adult he can opt to be Brazilian or American. Until then he has both nationalities, without one overpowering the other or without him being more Brazilian than American or vice versa.

David, at that point, because of his age, couldn’t find any work and rarely earned any money. He stayed home practically all day, concerned about building and fixing the house. Bruna worked all day long giving Italian classes in elementary schools and she was the one who put food on the table and handled all of the general costs of living. However, knowing about the situation, Bruna’s family helped by sending money to the family so they could have a dignified life.

Even their health insurance was paid for by Bruna, since her ex-husband wasn’t making any money. They lived in a world of appearances, where for some they had a great life, but inside the home it was hell.

The situation got to be so bad that at one point Sean, who was almost four, called his maternal grandmother, very sad, and told her that his mom didn’t like him anymore because she was out all day, and his dad was the only one who liked him, because he took care of him. He asked her to keep his secret. Asked who would have said such a barbarity to a child, Sean responded it was David.

Shaken, the maternal grandmother told her daughter about this sad incident. Bruna, who was already in Brazil with Sean on vacation, decided to end the marriage, which hadn’t really existed for more than four years. She was unhappy, depressed, had a lazy husband who didn’t want his wife since she was pregnant, and found herself forced to work all day long just to sustain her family.

She decided not to return to the United States and to end her unhappy marriage.

She called her ex-husband, told him she was unhappy, that she didn’t want to ever go back, and offered him a plane ticket to come immediately to Brazil so they could talk and work everything out. That didn’t happen. The American rejected the plane tickets, a place to stay, and said he’d never set foot in Brazil.

Bruna, without any other alternative, looked for information about a lawyer specializing in her situation. Immediately, and during the authorized period of time given to Bruna by the American to stay in Brazil with her son, appeared in Brazilian Court and asked for custody of Sean, which was quickly granted.

The American, meanwhile, wasn’t interested in speaking to Bruna amicably anymore. He went to a law office in Sao Paulo and months after Bruna left, filed an action alleging international child abduction!! But he didn’t know if the mother would ask for ransom, or even where she was. The theory of asking for ransom would come true, but on the opposite side, which will be explained shortly.

In this case in the Family Court in Rio, the American rightly contested the request. He lost the first time and appealed to the State Court. He was unsuccessful again. He tried going to the STJ, where he was not accepted and was unable to appeal again, closing the case.

During the ongoing case in the Federal Court, of which the American is the person responsible, he lost the first case, then the second case, and then again he lost in the Superior Court of Justice, where he was made to understand that the law rules in the interest of the minor, and in this case, that he would stay in Brazil with his mother.

At this point, it’s important to open up.

I met Bruna again through a mutual friend from college right after she returned to the US. At that time I was separated from my first wife.

We had similar stories, we weren’t happy in our marriages for a few similar reasons and maybe through this life experience we understood each other very well.
In less than six months after we met again, we were living together. And I never imagined how happy I could be at Bruna’s side.

For a reason that can be explained, life brought us together three times, and without the first two we never could have really been together. The third time we were certain that we were made for each other, to be together forever.

Bruna told me all the time that I was “the husband she chose.” We loved each other the whole time and there was never a moment of sadness.

Sean had a more than special participation in our lives. Ever since our first meeting we made sure he would accept the situation. He was the one who brought the first Valentine’s gift for me, spontaneously. My relationship with Bruna would never be above or could be compared to the relationship between mother and son, and because of this we did everything in the best way possible thinking about Sean’s well-being.

We were very involved together as a family, so it was natural that Sean began to call me DAD. It was his personal wish, and I received this gift with lots of pride and endearment. Our relationship, aside from nomenclature, was like a father and son: I always went to the parents’ meetings at his school, we did his homework together, I put him to bed, common things between parents and children.

And I did it for love. Sean is the son I never had from my first marriage. Our relationship has always been very strong, one of conversation, of love, of learning, of orientation, support, and protection.

From the first day we spent together and decided to become a family, it became my exclusive obligation to support my family financially. I became responsible to pay for the costs of the maid, food, housing, school, and leisure. We always went on vacation. Sean was able to see Europe at my side, and to be enchanted by Paris and Eurodisney.

We had the best family in the world for four and a half long years, one where everything was love, hugs, and respect. There were never any fights, any crying, not a single moment of unhappiness.
Bruna, who also registered her marriage to the North American in Brazil, asked for a divorce in the Brazilian court, an act in line with the law. The American was formally notified by a judicial official in Brasilia. Bruna divorced and we were finally able to officially marry. Our wedding took place on September 1, 2007.

At our wedding, a marriage certificate was signed by Bruna, me, and witnesses, as the law states, but in a pure act of spontaneity, Sean asked to sign it too, which really moved us, and it’s on the legal certification as can be proved by photos from the wedding. Sean was there and witnessed and approved our union.

Four months after the wedding, Bruna got pregnant again. I would have liked her to get pregnant sooner, but she questioned it, saying this time she would like to be pregnant after being formally married so they wouldn’t think she was just getting married because she was pregnant.

Bruna had a perfect pregnancy without any apparent problems. Sean watched as his mother’s belly grew each day. We were so happy when we found out it was a girl.

With her talent, Bruna became a fashion businesswoman making children’s clothes, and opened a very successful business, a store for girls called BISI. The dream of having a girl came true and she said she would make clothes for the little girl. In four years we had four stores in the best parts of Rio de Janeiro.

Scheduled to be born on August 21, 2008, Chiara decided to be born on that day. The birth took place apparently without any problems. Unfortunately, there were complications and failures that don’t deserve to be mentioned here.

My beloved Bruna, my life, the mother of my two children, died the morning of August 22, hours after giving birth to our daughter Chiara. She left me with the two greatest gifts of life: Sean and Chiara. Bruna died at age 34.

Sean – a BRAZILIAN CITIZEN – has been in Brazil since June 2004. He has been in Brazil much more time than he spent outside the country, without taking into account the time he spent abroad was when he was very little and he doesn’t remember much about it.

Sean has been under my care since January 2005, in a relationship of father and son. Today, he speaks very little English and recognizes his family –his support and nuclear family – as me, his affective father, and his sister, his biological connection to his mother.

For all those years, the North American never tried to visit us for even a day. The first year Sean spent in Brazil, he rarely called, maybe two times, on days like Sean’s birthday and Christmas. For the last two birthdays, Sean didn’t receive even a phone call, since in 2007 and 2008 we never received any contact by phone.

In the first two years, contact was limited to sending emails to my wife’s account in English to a child who couldn’t even read yet in Portuguese. We received presents one or two times, sent by the paternal grandmother with a simple card signed only by the grandmother.

During all this time the American claims he was in Brazil four or five times. In none of these occasions did he try to see us, formally or informally. He never asked for visitation rights in court, although he was answering to the custody request, after taking the legal initiative in Brazil. In fact, we found out about his presence in Brazil from our lawyers, with whom he was with on the day of the trial.

We also found out that he was in the courts lobbying with some Supreme Court judges. I repeat: at no moment did he even call our house warning us that he’d be here. He preferred to visit Sean’s judges.

Right after my beloved wife died, I decided to take the legal initiative to ask for custody of Sean, since I already took care of him and had a father-like relationship with him, a son of more than four years. I received custody after the State Public Ministry ruled in my favor.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t imagine what was coming. Right after Bruna’s seventh day mass, I received word that the American was in Brazil, and had gotten in touch with my lawyers.


Judging from the history of his actions, it’s obvious he wouldn’t have.

Even without having made visual contact in four and a half years, he decided to go after his biological son. The request was made through the family court judge, who based on experience and following the Public Ministry’s understanding of the case denied the visit, temporarily, keeping in mind the family’s moment of pain and his absence for so many years. He understood that such a visit could take place after social and psychological studied, all in Sean’s best interests.

After that legal decision, our life became hell.

This American hired, through his lawyers, a media consultant, even though the case was protected by the secrecy of justice. He began to spread his lies to the Brazilian media, as if his life in the US had been a fairy tale. He said that he had come innumerous times to Brazil and that “the family had prevented access.” He called Bruna a bigamist, an adulterer, and a child kidnapper – even after several sentences – and without Bruna being able to defend herself.

He put a letter on the Internet which accused the Brazilian courts of being corrupt, saying we’d paid all the judges, and that our courts don’t deserve credit.
Unbelievably absurd!

And that’s not all. Upon returning to the US, he went after his country’s media. He disclosed the whole story, he gave an interview telling his lies about the facts. He revealed my name and my family’s name, calling me a child abductor.

He created a site on the Internet where he tells his version of the story, where there’s a link where people have access to my email and my father’s email. From there, people began to write me, slandering me. I received hundreds of emails, telling me to burn in hell, that I’m a criminal. Along with the link, they show a series of emails at the Brazilian embassy, the courts, the Executive Powers, pressuring people through the American public opinion to take political action against me and my family, using as an excuse Sean’s return to the US after four and a half years of doing nothing.


As if it wasn’t enough to create products with Sean’s face on it when he was two years old that serve as a stamp on mugs, cooking aprons, tee-shirts of all kinds with sayings like Brazil doesn’t follow the law, that Sean should be returned to his country, etc, completely absurd facts and appeals that serve as a way to sustain the American, for him to make money since he has no job.

It’s important to mention that he says he never calls because supposedly, the family wouldn’t accept collect calls. How could he expect to raise a child that barely remembers his American past, without any money to even call his biological son?

What’s more, on Orkut, an Internet community popular with young Brazilians, there’s a community created by children that like my wife’s store, which began to release videos and photos accusing Bruna of being a kidnapper, sending these documents to Brazilian CHILDREN, without even thinking about the consequences or evaluating the gravity of this act!

Take note that if he had really been suffering or interested he wouldn’t have begun to scream four and a half years later. He would have done it a week after Bruna came to Brazil!!!

The American appears to be full of good intentions. However, he doesn’t tell the Brazilian press, nor the American press, much less on his website, that he ACCUSED BY IN-LAWS OF PARTICIPATING IN A SUPPOSED INTERNATIONAL KIDNAPPING, IN A CASE IN THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THERE THEY MADE A DEAL IN FRONT OF A JUDGE WHICH RECINDED HIS COMPLAINT FOR THE BEAUTIFUL AMOUNT OF US$150,000 (ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS)!!! All of this duly recognized by an American judge!

I repeat: would the guy have showed up if Bruna hadn’t died??? NEVER!!! He came because he smelled money, keeping in mind the eventual inheritance Sean would receive.

It’s important to point out that during those four and a half years, the American never sent us A SINGLE PENNY. All of Sean’s costs of living were paid for by me and Bruna. We never took the initiative to charge him for food, there’s no legal case of that kind at all. Just like there was no court order asking for and requiring him to visit Sean. So why did he come four and a half years later??? Only because Bruna died? He wasn’t satisfied with the agreement?

The American also didn’t say that he lived in a house bought with Bruna’s money. He lives with a roof over his head that’s not his, for free. He doesn’t say that he falsified Bruna’s signature on several checks from her bank account in order to gain access to the money she’d left when she returned to Brazil. He doesn’t mention any of that.

On the contrary, he makes a sad face, that of a father in trouble. Unfortunately, his acting moved the American government, which began to pressure the Brazilian Central Authority. Motivated by reasons of which I am unaware, the Secretary of Human Rights in MY COUNTRY forced the Union, through the General Advocacy Union, which is paid for by our taxes, to make a legal decision.

Today I’m the DEFENDANT IN A CASE AGAINST THE UNION WHICH PLEADS FOR SEAN’S RETURN AND VISITATION IN FAVOR OF A NORTH AMERICAN!!!!! Even though he request was made by the Family Judge and even though the return request was repeated, whose merit was already judged in the STJ! The Union pleads the right as a PRIVATE favor of an AMERICAN AGAINST A BRAZILIAN who is being massacred by the press, who can’t sleep at night, that is obligated to get court orders so that the story will be silenced, even though it’s already protected by the secrecy of justice.


I feel completely vulnerable. The American, right now, must be creating political tricks to harm my family, a person that shouldn’t receive any credit for being completely absent. To make a child is good, but to be responsible for taking care of him and raising him requires more dedication, and my love for Sean is no different than the love I feel for Chiara.

Bruna was very loved. When she died we took out a page in the newspaper to announce her mass. At her burial, which wasn’t publicized by the media, we had more than a thousand friends there. Bruna always believed in Brazil and it was here that she made her real family. Our courts understand this situation to be in Sean’s best interests, for him to stay here. Sean has a biological sister now, and the Union, pressuring or not, appears to want to forget the decision made by our maximum Court, and on account of Bruna’s death, to plead on the basis of a kidnapping, Sean’s return to the US, after he spent so much time in Brazil. They forget that Sean is BRAZILIAN!!! THAT EVEN THOUGH HE WASN’T BORN IN OUR BELOVED LAND, HE LOVES HIS BRAZIL LIKE FEW DO.

It wasn’t our fault that he lost his connection to the US. It wasn’t for our misdoing, it wasn’t for our absence. We can’t become defendants now, accused of being kidnappers, to go to a meeting in the interests of a North American. Where have we found ourselves? That Sean is more American than Brazilian?? Or is it that it’s better to be an American?? When will these political pressures serve as an excuse for the AGU to take an initiative in favor of a “gringo’s” private interests against a LEGITIMATE BRAZILIAN FAMILY???

Sean, ever since his mother died, has been receiving psychological help to aid him through a difficult time. Psychologist Maria Helena Bartolo has always confidently affirmed that Sean, due to the failure of initiative on his biological father’s part, lost the connection to his American past, since he doesn’t speak the language anymore and since he came to Brazil so young. Sean arrived just after he turned four. If you take into account that a child has little to no memory of his first years of life, it’s easy to understand that Sean can’t remember events and people –even family—in the US.

According to the psychologist, Sean’s formal memory is of his mother at my side, of a happy and pleasant home. Sean lived at my side for practically 60% of his life, since he will turn 9 in May, more time than he spent in the US. When he was questioned about his life in the US, he remembers few details, including arguments and fights that frequently occurred due to a failed marriage.

It’s important to emphasize that I, as the socio-affective father, am only interested in my son Sean’s well-being, nothing more than that. It’s devastating to see his innocent image on mugs sold on the Internet where no one knows where the money goes. Sean is being exposed inconsequently to the world, without taking account the negative consequences this can bring to a growing child. The secrecy of justice is disrespected daily, with all of the photos and information thrown around by the media without any criteria, with the only goal to create controversy and to sell newspapers.

What is the objective of all of these attacks against a Brazilian family? There was never any intention of preventing healthy contact and habitation [with the father]. As such, at the first opportunity which occurred recently, I, as the guardian, offered the visit that took place. Sean’s psychologist can testify to this fact, and told me that Sean was curious, but after a few hours, was uncomfortable. She repeated that in some sessions he wants to have a normal life, without afflictions or risks of being taken from Brazil without being heard, that he wants to stay with his affective father that he loves so, and at his sister’s side, his only connection to his deceased mother. Obviously she doesn’t deny that he doesn’t demonstrate interest in maintaining contact with his biological father, but that he wants to do it in a health and balanced way.

However, there’s a real fear in the family that due to North American political pressures, through the Consulate, that the minor’s interests will be put on the back burner. It doesn’t really matter if the biological father was absent for five years. It doesn’t matter if Sean has a biological sister. It doesn’t matter if he is loved here and wants to stay in the place he calls home, where he goes to school. It doesn’t matter that he is BRAZILIAN. We are essentially running the risk of seeing our highest law that we respect, before everything, the child’s best interest, being violated, torn up, thrown away by North American political interests. They want to use the boy as an example. Example of what? It’s not enough that he was orphaned at age 8, and now, about to be taken from his house, his home, the people he lived with and who cared for him for five years, from daily living with the sister he loves, from his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, and friends?? Where is the best interest of the child??? Or does it deal with the best interest of the US, the American ambassador, of Hillary Clinton?

We don’t even know if the version told outside of Brazil is true. The facts are innumerous and here we have millions of papers that prove, unfortunately, the character of the biological father that never had a real job and was sustained by my wife for the years they were married. If by using the lack of the secrecy of justice in the US to sell himself as a poor little thing, when in reality the only person being penalized in this story is Sean, who runs the risk of losing everything that really makes him feel safe. Sean barely speaks English, and doesn’t speak fluently like they try to show!!!

With great fear and to avoid the rights and interests of a son being completely and grossly violated, it is the socio-affective father – that never ran away from his responsibility of sustaining a child for most of his life only and exclusively for LOVE – asks this Council to analyze and protect the rights of a Brazilian child that has already suffered a lot, and that today is distressed and suffering due to a disastrous and inconsequential international political game – whose foreign political interests seem to be above our law, and if that wasn’t enough, above the greater interest of a Brazilian child, the ONLY VICTIM, that will suffer the serious emotional consequences, in the event that this council doesn’t intervene.

Rio de Janeiro, March 5, 2009
Joao Paulo Lins e Silva – OAB/RJ

Response by Ricardo Zamariola Jr., Attorney for David Goldman, National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents

Patricia E. Apy, Attorney for David Goldman, Response to “The American”

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