Saturday, August 27, 2016


Lawyer For Shatto Family Says Bruises On Adopted Russian Child 'Self-Inflicted'

Three-year-old Russian adoptee Max Shatto died in Texas in January in unclear circumstances.
Three-year-old Russian adoptee Max Shatto died in Texas in January in unclear circumstances.

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All Eyes On Texas Town At Center Of Russian Adoption Drama

Max Shatto, a 3-year-old Russian adoptee, died in the small town of Gardendale, Texas, last month under uncertain circumstances, touching off an international scandal. While much remains a mystery, local officials now say a medical ruling on the boy's death is imminent. That comes as details about the day the child died, as well as accounts of his adoptive mother, begin trickling in.
By Richard Solash
The lawyer for the parents of Max Shatto, the Russian adoptee whose death last month in the U.S. state of Texas provoked outrage in Moscow, says bruises found on the child's body were "self-inflicted."

"It's complicated. The child, himself, was subject to self-inflicted bruising," criminal defense attorney Michael J. Brown told RFE/RL.

"There is a very long story with respect to bruising which does not fit in [the Russians'] little formula," he said. "When they go and find the bruising on the child, they immediately say, 'Well, the parent caused it.' [But] there's a lengthy story with respect to the entire Russian adoption process and the child himself."

Asked if he was suggesting that an emotional disturbance was behind the child's alleged actions, Brown said, "Yes." He did not elaborate.

Three-year-old Max Shatto, born Maksim Kuzmin, died on January 21 at a hospital in Odessa, Texas. Local officials said an ambulance had been called to the Shatto home in Gardendale earlier in the day after the child allegedly collapsed while unattended outside.

Ector County Chief Medical Examiner Shirley Standefer told RFE/RL that investigators saw bruising over much of the child's body before it was taken away for an autopsy.

An investigation is under way and no criminal charges have been filed in the case.

The examiner's office told RFE/RL that a ruling on the manner and cause of the child’s death could come this week.

Russian Accusations 'Political'

The case grabbed international headlines earlier this month when Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, claimed that Max had been severely beaten and given heavy psychiatric drugs before he died. Other Russian officials and state media accused Laura Shatto, the child's adoptive mother, of "murder."

Russian officials have cited the case as further justification for the country’s December ban on U.S. adoptions, which was widely seen as a political response to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The act, signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in December, imposes sanctions on Russian officials said to be guilty of gross human rights abuses.

READ MORE: Reports Of Max’s Death Prompt Outrage In Russia

Brown, who told RFE/RL he was hired by the Shatto family shortly after the child's death, said the Russian accusations in the case were unfounded. "Astakhov has no access to facts. It was an accusation that he just made for political purposes," he said.

"I'm not expecting that charges will be brought. That doesn't mean that they couldn't be, but based upon what I've seen [and] based upon my conversations with everybody that I've talked to, I'm not. I don't think [Laura Shatto] had anything to do with [Max Shatto's] death at all."

In a February 20 interview with the "Dallas Telegraph," a Russian-language Texas publication, Sergei Azizov, the vice consul at the Russian Consulate in Houston, said Russian diplomats had visited the Shatto family before Moscow made its public accusations.

The Shatto home in Gardendale, TexasThe Shatto home in Gardendale, Texas
The Shatto home in Gardendale, Texas
The Shatto home in Gardendale, Texas
Azizov also said that Texas Child Protective Services were only allowing Laura Shatto to spend two hours per day with her other adopted child, Max Shatto's 2-year-old half-brother, Kristopher.

Russian lawmakers have demanded that Kristopher be returned to his birth country.

Brown confirmed that Russian officials had spoken to Alan Shatto, the boys' adoptive father. "Nothing that Alan would have told them would have led them to any conclusion like [the one they drew], so they just sort of went on their own," he said.

He also confirmed Laura Shatto's limited access to her surviving adopted son. Brown said Kristopher, whose Russian name is Kirill, is in his father’s custody and that both remain in the family's home. He said Laura Shatto is staying elsewhere.

Brown said that Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) "will do this for a little while and then, most likely, her access will be increased. Of course, I'm putting pressure on them to let her back in the house, period."

"That's just per CPS procedure. There's nothing to be drawn from that other than a child's death occurs, she was in the house when the death occurred, and it's been widely publicized that there was bruising on the child. Therefore, they go on their little formula."

Russia's state-controlled Channel One claims that Max Shatto is the 20th Russian adoptee to have died in the United States.

U.S. officials point out that more than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families in the past 20 years.
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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous from: USA
February 28, 2013 00:34
Why doesn't the Shatto family sue the Russian government for slander? Isn't it illegal in Russia to falsely accuse people of crimes? Also, in America, a person is innocent until proven guilty which the Russian government has clearly not done!

by: Jack from: US
February 28, 2013 04:44
This whole saga is a conspiracy of Zionist proportions.
In Response

by: Don from: Auckland
February 28, 2013 11:29
Conspiracy to do exactly what?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
February 28, 2013 23:29
Shut up,Don,Jack was adopted by american skunks and he knows better!!!
In Response

by: Jack from: US
March 02, 2013 15:27
that was my friend Moisha Rabinovich. He sometimes posts under my name because he thinks people would not believe moisha

by: Peter Dodds from: USA
February 28, 2013 14:54
I was adopted from a German orphanage by an American couple and applaud the ban prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children. In this TV interview, I describe international adoption from a unique perspective--that of a foreign orphan adopted to the United States--and harm caused by uprooting children from their native countries and cultures.

Peter Dodds
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 28, 2013 16:00
You come across as slightly deranged in that video. Adoption is to blame for all the things that make orphans? And your fixation on "culture" sounds a little like someone looking for an alibi. "I'm screwed up because I was adopted to a foreign land."

by: Jan peterson from: Tx
February 28, 2013 17:01
Self inflicted bruises to the abdomen on a three year old? Really? If this was the case then I sure hope she spoke with his pediatrician about this and possibly even a psychologist as this is the job of a parent to be an advocate for their child from any harm that may come to him.
In Response

by: Kisa
March 01, 2013 01:46
He was refused by six Russian families because of obvious signs of fetal alcohol syndrome. Sadly, these children have many, many problems not limited to severe behavior disorders but also heart defects. Americans are usually the only people who will adopt such children. If you want to blame anyone, blame the birth mother who drank and continues to drink herself into oblivion.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
March 01, 2013 21:12
Maksim Kuzmin was not suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome - the obvious signs you speak of are shorter-than normal stature and a smaller head, as well as a smaller brain, which you cannot see, and Maksim was a normally healthy child. It is true his mother has an alcohol problem but the child did not have FAS. And taking him to the USA would provide little in the way of a moral victory; the incidence of FAS in the USA is slightly above the international average.

If Maksim had suffered "obviously" from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, don't you think the family's lawyer would have jumped all over it rather than relying on this cockamamie self-inflicted bruising story?

by: Mark from: Victoria
March 01, 2013 05:21
Well, that totally makes sense. Maksim beat himself to death, in the time it took for his mother to step out of sight to use the bathroom. That ought to satisfy those nosy Russians. Nothing to see here, folks....return to your homes...

Seriously, is that the best the mother and her lawyer could come up with? Oh, I don't doubt it would fool people in Texas, but I doubt anyone in Russia is going to buy it.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: USA
March 01, 2013 08:44
I assure you, people in Texas are probably a lot smarter than the average Russian, who don't even know what the holocaust was. I seem to recall many Russians believing the meteor that fell recently was US rocket. I' m flattered they think we are that powerful despite our budget cuts.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
March 01, 2013 20:20
I beg to differ. According to the Texas Centre for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning, 19% of Texans can't read a newspaper,

while Texas slipped to dead last in 2005 among states by percent of citizens aged 25 or older who have a high school diploma or GED.

Russia has an across-the-board national literacy rate of 99.8%, according to UNESCO figures.

The dribbling tool who pushed the line that the Chelyabinsk meteorite was a rocket - and only one person, full-time nutcase Vladimir Zhirinovsky, suggested it was an American weapon - was rabidly pro-western Novaya Gazeta reporter Yulia Latynina. A known idiot, although one who can read.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
March 05, 2013 12:51
Gee Mark, their high literacy rate would explain why they tend to have menial jobs when emigrating to NZ or Australia, and for the massive number of Russians who still worship Stalin, and Hitler (Russia leads the world for number of Neo-Nazis per head of population).

Of course, there is also a problem with Russian "educated" immigrants to NZ and Australia being involved with drugs trafficking, prostitution, and general crime.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 01, 2013 12:58
I know you're just a Kremlin shill, but that's not what it says. It says the bruises were self-inflicted, not his death.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
March 01, 2013 21:17
I know you're just a Washington shill from somewhere, but that still leaves the family with no explanation at all for his death. And it certainly sounds like laying the groundwork for death by trauma as the result of a beating; otherwise, why mention it? Unless it was just an effort to supply an explanation for why he was covered in bruises, in which case it's pretty low to blame a dead child in an effort to save yourself. Let's see what the autopsy and toxicology report reveals, which seems to be taking an inordinately long time.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
March 05, 2013 12:55
Well, I guess Mark has no kids, children, especially young boys who play outside, tend to have bruises from running, jumping, climbing, playing soldiers etc.

Of course, give the absolutely horrific rates of domestic violence in Russia (almost the worst in the world, and certainly the worst in Europe) where roughly 14,000 women are murdered by their partners/husbands every year, and an equivalent rate of child abuse, I guess you are doing the Russian trick of projecting your own sick culture onto others.

by: Mark from: Victoria
March 01, 2013 22:33
See? Just like I said - the autopsy says the child's death was accidental, and that his bruises were "self-inflicted due to a mental condition."

But apparently charges are not ruled out. Why? The Shattos are obviously completely innocent, and Maksim was a loaded gun who beat himself to death while his Mommy was using the bathroom. You can never tell with 3-year-olds, it's actually very common for them to do that. In fact there's been...well, one case so far.

by: Anonymous
March 04, 2013 05:15
I have seen children who hurt themselves. They show a lot more damage than this, plus their parents take the added step of padding them so they cannot hurt themselves as badly. Where is the padding and bandaging on Maksim? It should be there if the parents knew he was inflicting this on himself. Something in the milk isn't clean.

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