U.S. Adoptive Parents Reduce Murder Charges, Claim Starved 7-Year-old Russian Adoptee Responsible for own Death
Photo: Nathaniel and Elizabeth Craver (neé Ivan and Dasha Skorobogatov)
[TRIGGER WARNING: child abuse, murder] Nathaniel Craver and twin sister Elizabeth were adopted from Russia via Christian agency by American couple Michael and Nanette Craver. Nathaniel died from complications from traumatic brain injury coupled with a “severe failure to thrive.” The emaciated child had 80 wounds on his body, 20 of which were to his head, with each of his shoulders and hip joints pulled from their sockets.
During their 2011 trial, the Cravers told the court that Nathaniel was responsible for his own death, claiming he was self-injurious because of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and “Reactive Attachment Disorder,” more commonly known as “Adopted Child Syndrome.”
Forensic pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross testified that there was severe trauma and swelling of the victim’s head, but no sign of FAS upon examination of his brain. Dr. Ross told the jury that the boy suffered many injuries that could not have been self-inflicted, and that his “legs were as thin as pencils.” He also cited indications that the boy had been tightly bound.
A foster parent who had previously cared for Nathaniel and Elizabeth testified that she saw no self-injurious behaviors.
In the Cravers’ defense, attachment therapist Lark Eshleman testified that both children had attachment disorders that were exacerbated when the children were temporarily placed in foster care while prior charges of abuse at the hands of the Cravers were being investigated.
Attachment therapist and international adoption consultant Ronald Federici also spoke on behalf of the Cravers, telling the press that institutionalized orphans are severely self-injurious.
The judge then sentenced the Cravers to 16 months to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Because the couple had already spent 18 months in jail, they will not serve any more time and were released.
Russian authorities were outraged by the verdict and initiated talks between Russia’s Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, Pavel Astakhov, and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
CBS: “Adopted 7-year old tortured to death”
RT News: “Another adopted Russian child murdered”
Examiner: “Expert says Nathaniel Craver didn’t die from self-inflicted injuries”