KIDNAP KID HOME

By DAREH GREGORIAN and ERIN CALABRESE

December 5, 2004 — David Washington’s 18-month fight for his daughter
ended on a New Jersey tarmac last night, as the New York man and his
child, Charlotte, finally touched down, safe and sound, on American soil.

The 4-year-old’s French mother, Sophie Maumousseau, kidnapped the girl in
2003 and spirited her to a French village, where locals backed their
compatriot and battled fiercely to keep hold of the stolen child.

The joyful dad was exhausted after the flight, but happy that a French
court finally coerced Charlotte’s mother into handing over the girl.

“I feel good,” he told The Post. “It feels good to be on American soil.
It’s unreal.”

Charlotte and her dad arrived at Newark Airport at 6:14 and were greeted
by joyous friends and family.

“I can’t wait to see what she looks like. I know she’ll look different,”
said Charlotte’s cousin, Angela, 11, who immediately bonded with the
4-year-old.

Charlotte happily sat on the older girl’s lap and enjoyed a chocolate bar
supplied by grandmother Roslyn Washington.

Also there was Washington’s lawyer, Karen Blaustein, to meet the little
girl she worked so hard to reunite with her father.

The clan later returned to the family’s home in upstate Walden, N.Y.,
where they had a celebratory dinner replete with champagne and a cake
inscribed “Welcome Back Charlotte.”

At the party the joyous dad began getting down to the task of getting to
know, and live again with, his daughter.

“I was wondering how I am going to keep her entertained,” he said. “But
we interact, she talks and plays with me.

“I’m glad it’s over.”

The kidnap drama started when Maumousseau took the little girl for a
two-week vacation to her hometown of Les Adrets de l’Esterel in March
2003, and kept her there.

A French appeals court reunited the dad with his daughter Friday.

The ordeal has taken a financial as well as emotional toll on the dad. He
was forced to take a months-long leave of absence from his job while
staying in France.

That, plus his legal fees and expenses, cost him well over $100,000 and
forced him to max out his credit cards and borrow money from family and
friends.

A group of his friends and co-workers from Verizon set up the Charlotte
Washington Recovery Fund to help him make ends meet.

The fund, which accepts donations at P.O. Box 1416, N.Y., N.Y. 10018, has
raised about $4,500 so far from Post readers and Washington’s co-workers.

“You guys have been a blessing to us,” Washington’s brother, Gerry, said
last night.

“The Post people, the people at his job, so many people have helped out.
Thank you and God bless them.”

Copyright NY Post 2004

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