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Texas father detained in Russia sentenced to 21 years in penal colony despite ‘almost no evidence’

texas-father-detained-in-russia-sentenced-to-21-years-in-penal-colony-despite-‘almost-no-evidence’
Texas father detained in Russia sentenced to 21 years in penal colony despite ‘almost no evidence’

A Russian court sentenced a Texas father to 21 years in a penal colony on charges of child abuse Tuesday, despite “almost no evidence” and multiple U.S. investigations that resulted in no charges.

David Barnes, 66, was accused of abusing his two sons in 2018 and 2014 by his then-wife, Russian Svetlana Koptyaeva. Police in Houston investigated both allegations at the time and found no reason to file charges.

“Frankly, I’m horrified,” Barnes’ defense attorney, Gleb Glinka, told ABC News outside the courthouse. “There was almost no evidence that the court could base that verdict on.”

Koptyaeva is alleged to have illegally taken her and Barnes’ children out of the U.S. in the midst of a custody dispute in 2019. Interpol then declared both sons missing, and the U.S. transferred custody rights to Barnes, though that could not be enforced because the children were taken to Russia.

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U.S. citizen David Barnes, 66, has been jailed for 21 years in a maximum security penal colony in Russia on child molestation charges originally investigated in the U.S., after being raised by his Russian ex-wife Svetlana Koptyaeva, when a decision was taken not to pursue criminal action. (East2West)

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Montgomery County prosecutors also charged Koptyaeva with felony interference with child custody and issued a warrant for her arrest.

“I do know that everyone that heard and investigated the child sexual abuse allegations raised by Mrs. Barnes during the child custody proceedings did not find them to be credible,” Kelly Blackburn of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told ABC News on Tuesday. “Mrs. Barnes’ interference with child custody case is still pending, and the warrant for her is still active.”

David Barnes’ ex-wife, Svetlana Koptyaeva, is charged with interfering in a custody dispute by illegally taking her children from the U.S. to Russia. (East2West)

Barnes has been detained in Russia since January 2022, when his family said he traveled there to see his children and apply for visitation rights, according to ABC.

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Koptyaeva once again raised the abuse allegations soon after Barnes’ arrival. Russian authorities say they investigated the claims, though Montgomery authorities reportedly say they were never contacted by Russian officials about the issue.

David Barnes is one of several U.S. citizens being detained by Russia, including journalist Evan Gershkovich and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. (East2West)

“I didn’t steal anyone,” Koptyaeva told ABC on Tuesday. “I was just protecting my kids.”

Barnes is one of several U.S. citizens currently being detained in Russia, alongside journalist Evan Gershkovich and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. Unlike the latter two, however, President Biden’s administration at this point has not declared Barnes to be “wrongfully detained.”

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The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Anders Hagstrom is a reporter with Fox News Digital covering national politics and major breaking news events. Send tips to Anders.Hagstrom@Fox.com, or on Twitter: @Hagstrom_Anders.

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