Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett are facing felony charges after court documents revealed they allegedly abandoned their adopted daughter while they were married.
Now divorced, WISH is reporting that Michael and Kristine rented their reportedly 8-year-old daughter, who was adopted out of Ukraine, an apartment after allegedly changing her age to 22.
They then left their native Indianapolis for Canada, leaving the 8-year-old behind in 2013. According to WLFI, during an interview with authorities at the start of the investigation, the girl told investigators the Barnetts adopted her in 2010. She then claimed that after they rented her an apartment in Lafayette, they left her alone and moved to Canada without her.
The investigation allegedly began in 2014 after the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a school principal regarding the well-being of a student. Court documents also stated that before the family left for Canada, they advised the girl to tell others that she just “looks young,” if they questioned her new age.
The girl reportedly had a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal.
According to WISH, this isn’t the first time Kristine and her family had been in the news. Several years ago, Kristine wrote a book about raising one of her biological sons, who was diagnosed with autism before becoming a well-known physics prodigy by the age of 13.
The book was called “The Spark: A mother’s story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.”
Since court documents were released detailing the bizarre alleged neglect, Kristine has told WISH that “she’s innocent.” She went even as far as to claim the adoption was a “scam,” and the girl “is actually an adult.”
In an attempt to prove those claims, WISH states that Kristine gave them a letter that claims her ex-husband’s doctor believed that the birth date on the girl’s birth certificate was “clearly inaccurate”:
The letter claims that evidence of her age can be seen in her teeth, adult sexual development, menstrual cycle and diagnosed sociopathic personality disorder. It even claims the admitted she was over 18 in 2011 and she’s made a career of perpetuating the fraud.
However, IU Heath—the hospital where the doctor worked—refused to verify the letter for WISH.
According to reports, Michael and Kristine, as well as their other children, moved to Canada in 2013 so that their oldest son could continue furthering his career in physics.
Now an adult himself, their son, Jake, said very little when WISH reached out to him for comment. According to the report, the only thing he said was that “the girl was around during his childhood until 2013.”
Court documents state that after leaving for Canada, they continued to pay the girl’s rents. However, as WISH reports, the girl was reportedly evicted in 2014 after rent payments stopped coming in. And in an interview with investigators, Kristine and Michael said that they didn’t financially support the girl in any other way, aside from paying for her rent.
They also admitted to changing her age before moving.
It’s unclear where the girl lived from 2014 to 2016 when the investigation into the neglect was completed. But according to WLFI, a neighbor took the girl “under their wing.” It’s also unclear how Kristine and Michael were able to change the alleged child’s age from 8 to 22.
The girl reportedly moved away from Tippecanoe County in 2016.
As a result of the investigation, 45-year-old Kristine and 43-year-old Michael are now facing felony charges for neglect of a dependent. They were not arrested.
Kristine has since opened up slightly about the allegations against her on Facebook:
Ok I am sorry I am not supposed to be talking to anyone but in response to the Washington post photo of me supposedly…
Friends and family seem to be supportive of Kristine in the comments section.
A police officer told News 18 on September 12 that this case in particular “is going to end up on a TV show.”