Dorothy Lee Barnett to Stay in Prison for Six Months for 20-Year Kidnapping

February 11, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Want to kidnap your child? You should know that doing so is illegal, a violation of civil and criminal law. It’s also been accurately labeled ‘child abuse.’ Want to abduct little Andy or Jenny overseas for a couple of decades? That’ll require forging passports, lying to issuing authorities and the like. Those are crimes as well.

So, all in all, it looks like a bad idea this international kidnapping of one’s own child for the purpose of keeping him/her from a loving, caring parent. It’s a terrible idea for the child and not such a good one for you either. You’ll be committing multiple crimes and violations of civil law.

But not to worry. Dorothy Lee Barnett, aka, Dorothy Geldenhuys, did all of those things and pleaded guilty to a number of federal criminal offenses, but a federal judge has barely given her a tap on the wrist as punishment. Barnett was sentenced yesterday to spend a mere 21 months in prison for kidnapping her daughter for 20 years and fleeing with her first to South Africa and then to Australia with stops in New Zealand and Malaysia.

She was finally found, arrested and eventually extradited to the United States. The real kicker about her sentence is that she’s getting credit for time served which is 15 months from the date of her capture. That means she’ll be free as a bird in at most six months.

Twenty-one years ago, when their daughter was one year old, a South Carolina court gave custody to her father, Benjamin Harris Todd. The judge was concerned that Barnett was too mentally unstable to have primary custody. It looks like he was right. But whatever the case, that custody order prompted Barnett to take the law into her own hands.

Federal judge Richard Gergel announced that he wanted to “send a message” with his sentencing of Barnett. I think he succeeded. He announced to Barnett and the world that her crimes, if not to be celebrated, aren’t to be taken seriously. So all those potential kidnappers out there should be advised – go ahead, take the child. Compared with what we do to parents too poor to pay their child support, international kidnapping for 20 years is nothing.

And finally, take that Benjamin Harris Todd! That’s what your anguish as a father for 20 years is worth. Feel better now?

Here’s one article (, 2/10/15).


National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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