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Father accused of abandoning adopted girl arrested, bonds out

Michael Barnett, the father accused of leaving their adopted child alone in a Lafayette apartment, has bonded out of the Tippecanoe County jail, just an hour after he was booked.

Posted: Sep 18, 2019 4:52 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2019 8:56 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Michael Barnett, the father accused of leaving their adopted child alone in a Lafayette apartment, has bonded out of the Tippecanoe County jail, just an hour after he turned himself in and was booked.

News 18 was there as he walked out around 4:45 p.m., just over an hour after online records say he was booked. He posted a $5,000 bond. His lawyer, Terrance Kinnard, spoke on his behalf outside the jail. You can see a piece of that interview above right now.

"Michael is a wonderful human being, he is a pillar in his community and he has a big heart," said Kinnard. "He thought he was doing the right thing 10 years ago when he took someone in his home. From his perspective, he was as much of a victim as anyone in this whole scenario."

As we previously reported, Michael Barnett admitted to legally changing the Ukrainian girl's presumed age from 8-years-old to 22-years-old prior. The girl has a form of dwarfism, according to documents. 

The girl told police she was adopted by the Barnetts in 2010. Court documents said the family lived in Hamilton County for two years. The girl told police the Barnetts rented an apartment on North 11th Street in Lafayette for her and then moved with the rest of the family to Canada.

Barnett and his ex-wife Kristine Barnett are facing a pair of felony charges for neglect of a dependent. Kristine Barnett is still at large and reportedly still lives in Canada.

We asked Kinnard how the parents were able to legally change the girl's age, but he said that it will be something that is talked about throughout the court process.

Kinnard said his client hopes for the best for the girl they allegedly left behind.

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

Court documents say Michael admitted to only providing enough money for rent for the girl and no other living expenses. It also says that the Barnetts believed she was a minor at the time, despite her legal age. According to his lawyer, Michael Barnett doesn't believe he's guilty of neglect.

"Show to the world, to the court and to his community that he is, of course, innocent of these charges," he said of their goal throughout the process.

Kinnard confirmed that Michael and Kristine Barnett are not married anymore, and said he is not representing Kristine.

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