Parents accused of abandoning adopted daughter before fleeing for Canada turn themselves in

Michael Barnett (left) and Kristine Barnett (right)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The parents accused of abandoning their adopted daughter in Lafayette before fleeing to Canada have turned themselves in.

According to the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office, Kristine Barnett turned herself in Thursday morning. Her ex-husband, Michael Barnett, turned himself in Wednesday. Both have been released on bond.

The Barnetts, who are no longer married, adopted a girl from Ukraine, according to police. The girl told police she lived with them in Hamilton County before they left her at an apartment in Lafayette in 2013 and moved to Canada, according to court documents.

They’re accused of having the girl’s age legally changed from 8 years old to 22 years old before they left. Michael Barnett told police his wife advised the girl to tell other people she looked young for her age. The girl has a form of dwarfism.

Both face charges of neglect of a dependent.

Michael Barnett’s attorney, Terrance Kinnard, told WLFI that his client is a “pillar in his community” and has a “big heart.”

“He thought he was doing the right thing 10 years ago when he took someone in his home,” Kinnard told WLFI. “From his perspective he was as much of a victim as anyone in this whole scenario.”

Michael Barnett paid for the girl’s rent but didn’t provide other living expenses, according to court documents. Kinnard said Barnett hopes for the best for the girl.

“This is someone he has always cared for and cared about,” Kinnard said. “(Michael) is not abreast of her whereabouts, but he does have a concern to make sure she is OK.”

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