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Monday, Nov. 30, 2015

Hansen's lawyer asks to step aside

Friday, February 17, 2012

The attorney for a former Shelbyville resident who abandoned her adopted son from Russia has asked to withdraw from representing her in an ongoing lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Sandra L.M. Smith filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for Torry Hansen, stating that the woman "terminated council's [sic] legal services" on Feb. 8.

A hearing has been set for Feb. 23 in Shelbyville to hear the motion.

In April 2010, Hansen sent her adopted Russian son back to Moscow alone on a plane with a note saying he was violent, had psychological problems and that she didn't want him anymore.

She has refused to cooperate with investigators after the then 7-year-old boy -- identified in court documents as Artem Saveliev -- arrived in Russia. No criminal charges were ever filed, but Hansen's adoption agency filed a lawsuit seeking child support here, where she was living at the time.

Failure to communicate

Smith said in her motion to Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell that Hansen has "failed to communicate or otherwise respond" to her regarding the lawsuit "or the pending scheduled appearances, discovery or other Orders of the Court ... "

Two weeks ago, Russell ordered Hansen to give a deposition in her upcoming child support case on Feb. 20 while the trial date was moved to May 17.

The Murfreesboro attorney also stated that Hansen has "disconnected or otherwise terminated all way by which Council [sic] was in communication with her," asking Russell to be relieved as counsel in the case.

"Time to respond"

Larry Crain, an attorney representing World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), had filed a motion to compel before Russell on Feb. 1, saying that they had been trying to get Hansen to give her side of the story since May of last year, but that the Hansens announced their decision at the time "not to be deposed on any date or any location."

Hansen had been due to appear at a deposition on Feb. 2, but Smith was unavailable due to another case and Crain asked Russell to compel Hansen to answer questions and to also produce financial documents.

"We believe it is time for her to respond," Crain said, also pointing out that Hansen "fled this jurisdiction" the day after she was served with the suit in May 2010.

Russian reaction

Last week, Russia's Foreign Ministry asked the government to suspend adoptions of Russian children by U.S. nationals following an "incessant string of crimes" allegedly committed by adoptive parents in America.

Russian authorities claimed that at least 17 children have died in domestic violence incidents in their American families. The Ministry said that the adoptions should resume only after Moscow and Washington sign an accord that allows Russian monitors to visit the homes of adopted children.

A Pennsylvanian couple was convicted in November of the involuntary manslaughter of their son adopted from Russia.

Initial problems

When the Hansen family's actions first became public, local authorities were unable to file any charges against the Hansens because there was no evidence that any crime had been committed in Bedford County.

Sheriff Randall Boyce said at the time that if the Hansens abandoned the child, it didn't occur in the county, and therefore he could not press charges.

The incident brought attention to the plight of Russian adoptees. Russia temporarily suspended adoptions by American families, finally lifting the ban last June.

The Hansens were represented by Shelbyville attorney Trisha Henegar, and then later by Jennifer Thompson of Nashville.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.