The Schindlers file a motion to force Terri Schiavo's husband to let them see their daughter.
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE
Published May 12, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - The parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, who have been barred or restricted from visiting their daughter for a month and a half, are asking a Pinellas-Pasco judge to force her husband to let them in.
In a motion filed this week, Bob and Mary Schindler say Michael Schiavo hasn't allowed them free access to their daughter since March 29.
At that time, Schiavo barred visitation after his attorney told reporters that puncture marks were found on Mrs. Schiavo's arm after a visit by the Schindlers. The Schindlers denied doing anything to their daughter.
On May 5, one of Michael Schiavo's attorneys wrote the Schindlers' attorney a letter saying they could visit if they hired a private security guard.
They have refused to do so.
"This family is enduring a nightmare all because of a staged incident," the Schindlers' attorney, Pat Anderson, said in a statement. "Terri's mother cannot even see her own daughter, comfort her, touch her or interact with her."
George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, said it is appropriate to restrict visitation because a Clearwater police investigation of the puncture wounds is ongoing.
He also said the parents have attempted to profit from their daughter by offering a videotape of Mrs. Schiavo in exchange for donations of $100 or more to a fund to pay the Schindlers' lawyers.
Felos said the Schindlers videotaped their daughter in violation of a court order.
"Because these issues are ongoing, we believe the safest course to protect Terri is to have the Schindlers' visitation supervised," Felos said.
Anderson, however, said in an interview that Felos has no right to do so and that his client took measures to bar the parents without court approval, which she said he must receive.
Felos disagreed, saying approval is not necessary in an emergency situation. "The guardian can use his best judgment to protect the ward," Felos said.
Anderson, however, said Michael Schiavo's actions are illegal.
"Terri has a retained right to have visitors," Anderson said. "That's an absolute right. You can't lock people away like it's solitary confinement just because they're incapacitated."
A judge is expected to decide the issue later this month, though a date has not been set.
Michael Schiavo says his wife has been in a vegetative condition for over 14 years and cannot recover. Her parents disagree and have been fighting him in the courts to stop his efforts to remove her feeding tube.