Russia Attacks Sentence of Adoptee’s Parents

November 23, 2011

From the New York Times:

The Russian government reacted furiously on Saturday to what it described as an unjustly lenient sentence in the case of a Pennsylvania couple who were originally charged with murder in the death of their 7-year-old son adopted from Russia.

The couple, Michael and Nanette Craver, were sentenced Friday to 16 months to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter by Judge John S. Kennedy of the Court of Common Pleas in York, Pa. Because they had already spent nearly 19 months in jail, they will not serve any more time.

The Russian government was enraged. “The Cravers, who tortured the 7-year-old child to death, were released after staying a mere year and a half under arrest,” Alexander Lukashevich, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Saturday in a statement, according to the Interfax news service. “The court verdict is amazingly and flagrantly irresponsible.”

Russian officials said they were conducting their own investigation and might seek an arrest warrant for the couple.

The boy, Nathaniel Craver, died in 2009 from bleeding caused by a severe head injury. His adoptive parents said he had serious emotional and mental problems that had caused him to repeatedly hurt himself. They said the injury that caused his death occurred when he fell and hit his head on a wood stove.

Pennsylvania authorities said the parents had abused and neglected the boy. Expert witnesses testified that he had fetal alcohol syndrome, but it was not clear whether that played any role in his death.

A jury acquitted the Cravers of murder, but concluded they were negligent and responsible for the death. They were convicted in September of involuntary manslaughter and freed pending sentencing.

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