A Ukrainian female adopted by an Indiana couple and later abandoned by them after theyclaimed to have learned sheliedabout her ageandwas actually a 22- or even a 33-year-old womansays the bizarre allegations against her arent true.
Natalia Barnett, an orphan with dwarfism, opened up about the accusations in an interview with Dr. Philscheduled to air on his talk show Thursday. Her story drew attentionnationwide in September, when her adoptive parents, Kristine Barnett, 45, and Michael Barnett, 43, were each charged with two counts of neglect of a dependentstemming from their moveto Canada in 2013 without Natalia, according to investigators.
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The Barnetts, who are now divorced, adopted Natalia in 2010 and a doctor determined she was estimated to be around 8 years old. Natalia told theTippecanoe County Sheriffs Department in September 2014 that she came to the U.S. through an adoption in 2008 from her native Ukraine and that the Barnetts adopted her two years later.
She said she lived with the Barnetts for about two years in Hamilton County. A skeletal survey taken at Peyton Manning Childrens Hospital in 2012 estimated Natalias age to be 11, according to WISH-TV.
But that same year,the Barnettschanged Natalias legal age to 22, and, soon after, moved to Canada. Though the couple reportedlyrented Nataliaan apartment in Lafayette, Ind., she knew no one in the city, and was left with no means offinancial support. She was eventually evicted in 2014, at which point she wasreportedly taken in byneighbors.
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Natalia says she hasnt seen the Barnetts since they left the country. The pair made a slew of peculiar accusations against the Ukrainian, claiming the supposed adult was merely posing as a little girl. Kristine told the news station in September that Natalia was diagnosed as a psychopath and sociopath and claimed her adoption was a scam.
The Barnetts recently told ABC News Good Morning America they believe Natalia could be as old as 33.
In her interview with Dr. Phil, the host asks Natalia if shes a 33-year-old scam artist.
Shes painted you as an evil dwarf thats gonna poison their coffee or stab them in their sleep...They say you scammed them, lied about your age and terrorized them, Dr. Phil says, to which Natalia replies through tears: Its not true at all.
Why did they want to get rid of you so badly? A 6- or 7-year-old child living in an apartment alone for a year? Thats just not believable to me, he says. I guess it comes down to whether or not you are an evil psychopath demon child thats come over here to murder everybody.
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The Ukranian female of anindeterminate age says she just wants people to hear my side.
Last week, a judge in Tippecanoe County, Ind., issued a gag order in the case, telling the Barnetts they cannot discuss Nataliasmedical, mental or education records in media interviews because such characteristics can cause pretrial publicity that makes it difficult to find unbiased jurors.
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The couple may, however, discuss the allegations and their defense in general terms, as long as their comments do not impugn the couples adopted daughter, the judge said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.B: