Uma lettera para Clara (#21)
It is the middle of summer. I imagine you might be in Cabanas, on the beach, or perhaps headed there. We are in Matera, having left Ginosa marina as the summer people moved in to crowd the streets and beach, bringing an almost urban cacophony to the little town. I prefer quiet.
My back operation is now 3 months ago, and I am busy exercising, doing my yoga, and am about 99.9% back – and no longer have to stand to work! Better than before.
As I wrote in my earlier letter, I wanted to carry on with the story of your life (and mine), from when I left Lisboa at the end of January 2001. In thinking about this, and preparing to write, I was going through the old materials in my computer and came across something I’d written and sent as an e-mail to many people in Portugal. It gives a far clearer description of what happened in December 2000 than I gave in my letter about it posted here. On finding it, and reading it over, I thought it would be something you should read. So I post it here, and will write to you of what happened after January 2001 in the next few weeks. Fortunately here where we are in Matera it is quiet and will be even more so once Agosto arrives and most people leave for the beaches or mountains or where ever they go!
An image taken in September 2000, on “the set” near Cabanas
Here is the letter I found. It is very long, but it provides far more detail than I gave you a few months ago. It was sent out to an email list I was able to put together back then, including family and friends of your mother, but also others in the film and political world of Portugal :
The following is an open letter to friends and acquaintances of Teresa Villaverde, regarding our daughter, Clara, whom Teresa kidnapped from her home in Rome, at vicolo di S. Rufina, 50, on Nov. 2 or 3 and took illegally to Lisbon.
On November 5th, Teresa wrote me by email, saying they (she and Clara) would not be home (in Rome), and she would inform me some time later where they had gone. Until Nov. 13 Teresa illegally kept me from knowing where my daughter was, and kept me from speaking to her on the telephone. At that date she allowed me to speak to her intermittently, perhaps for 30 minutes over then next 2 weeks, usually in the context of a busy noisy background, though I still did not know where they were a sit was a cellular phone. On Dec. 9, 2000, I had 20 or so minute talk with Clara in which she stated, repeatedly, 3 sexually suggestive phrases,
“Would you like to get on top of me,”
“Shall I drink you,”
“Would you like to kiss my belly.”
During that conversation I asked Clara directly if her mother had taught her these phrases, and she responded promptly and directly, no less than 3 times, “Yes.” Teresa Villaverde was present during this conversation, and was asked by Clara how to say the phrase, “get on top” in English, since at first I did not at all comprehend what she was speaking of. On Dec. 10, 11 and 13th, I again spoke with Clara, and she clearly had suddenly been taught to not repeat the phrases of Dec 9th, and stated her Mother had told her not to say it again. On December 14th, Teresa no longer answered the telephone, and again (illegally) cutoff my contact with Clara – the last words Clara said to me on the 13th,were (I had at this point begun to record these calls) :
Clara: But I want to see my house there.
Jon: You want to see the house?
Clara: I want to sleep in my room.
Jon: You want to see your room here?
Jon: In Rome? Well its all ready for you, it’s waiting for you. And all your little orsini, they’re all lined up, saying “where’s our Clara.”
Clara: But Moma don’t want I go there.
Jon: Mommy doesn’t want you to come here. Well, but you want to come here, yeah?”
At this point Teresa’s mother, communist party apparatchik (who effectively abandoned her own children to her mother’s care in order to go Make the Revolution, and who, as a good Stalinist, according to Teresa, supported the Chinese government on Tienanmen Square), intervened, grabbing the telephone to say:
Mirilia: Jon, you mustn’t don’t say that.
In other words, I am to partake of the Villaverde family brainwashing scheme, or, as it was, be cut off from communications with my daughter, who most clearly wishes to come home. Her desire to return to Rome is indicative of both her sense of her life, and the quality of the apparent treatment she has received at the hands of the Villaverde family for 7 weeks in Lisbon.
On Dec 16th, after I made clear that it was evident Teresa Villaverde was teaching Clara Jost these phrases, evidently to attempt to construct a case of child sexual abuse to justify her illegal abduction of Clara from Rome, Teresa wrote me the following email:
<< Date: Sat, 16 Dec 00 12:08PM MET From:”Teresa Villaverde” <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: “Jon” <email@example.com> Subject: xx
Jon, I know I have same mails from you, but in the last 2 days I had no time to open them. Yes, it is true that I have been avoiding since, I beleive two days, that you talk with Clara. I got the information that you claim I am accusing you of beating Clara and also of sexual abuses. Jon, this is very serious. I don’t know how can you acuse me of saying this things. Love and respect for a child must be far, far over all laws. I don’t know if it’s your lawyers who are giving you this advice. Please talk with serious people, with pedopsychiaters. I had told you many times that Clara must not feel any responsability in what happens to us, or any choice responsability, and that you had to talk with a specialist who could help you how to understand this and how to talk and help your child. Jon, this time you went too far, and even if the fact that I am, for the moment suspending your conversations with Clara will be a problem for me later, I know I am doing my duty as a mother. Jon, you lived with me for 7 years or so, how could you possible imagine that I would accuse you of sexualy molesting our daughter, how can you descend so low. I was also informed that the parents confernce is still on for the 22. I hope to see you there. Clara deserves more respect. Even I deserve more respect, you are exagerating, and I have reasons to be concerned of the state of your mind. Teresa >>
As may be noted here, following Dec. 13, Teresa Villaverde cut off my telephone contact with Clara, which she has continued to do to this day. When I notified her that I would be arriving in Lisbon on Dec 20th (to be present for a Juvenile Court hearing instigated by her on Nov. 3, the day of her abduction, scheduled for Dec 22) and that I wished to see Clara on my arrival, Teresa illegally fled Lisboa, telling a friend, Joao Pedro Rodrigues she had done so. Teresa’s withholding of my telephone contact and flight to prevent me from seeing Clara were both illegal violations of my (and Clara’s) rights, and are to me transparently indicative of a woman attempting to brainwash a child and fearful that any contact with her father might interfere in this process. Teresa’s email of Dec. 16 reads as the near hysterical backing away of a woman who has been caught in process of attempting to indoctrinate her daughter in saying sexually suggestive phrases, and now, seeing that the scheme is given away, wishes to attempt to reverse it as quite obviously a woman who would do such a thing is a poor candidate for having custody of a young child.
On Dec. 22 a “parental conference” was held at the Juvenile Court,Lisbon, at which Teresa and I were present. Owing to purely bureaucratic reasons, this conference did not at all account for the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, as the papers had not yet been received by the judge (who, as it happens, will now be the same judge to oversee hearings on the Hague Convention.
On Dec. 14, 2000, the Central Authority for the Hague Convention for Italy, forwarded a request to the Central Authority in Lisbon, stating explicitly and forcefully that
(a) Clara and Teresa were clearly resident in Rome
(b) in violation of Italian law Teresa had clearly and illegally abducted Clara from her home without informing or securing the consent of Clara’s father and
(c) that Teresa Villaverde was in clear violation of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.
The notice then asked that the Central Authority in Lisbon to arrange for the immediate return of Clara Jost to her home in Rome, where under the Hague Convention, custody hearing would be held under Italian law. At this “parental conference” Teresa and her lawyer argued that I, Jon Jost, should have no access to my daughter, Clara. When that was denied, they requested that access should be only under the eyes of Teresa Villaverde or accompanied by some other party acting in Teresa’s interests. That was denied. They then requested it be limited to staying in wherever Clara’s alleged home of the moment was (presently in Teresa’s mother’s house on rua Ladislau Picarra, but soon to move to a place near Teresa’s sister Joana – so Clara can be dumped off with her cousins while Teresa busies herself editing her film). This was denied.
The judge then ruled that Jon Jost, Clara’s father, could have a minimum of 3 hours per day access, free to take Clara out, etc., with none of the restrictive requests of Teresa and her lawyer.
It is clear that Teresa’s request was in the interests of attempting to maintain total control over Clara, the information she can receive and to pursue the attempts to “brainwash” her daughter. Teresa’s lawyer, on her behalf, argued that I should be denied custody
(a) as I had no money and could make no money (no evidence presented,and in fact quite untrue);
(b) that Jon Jost is a violent person, hence a danger and risk to Clara (no evidence presented).
She then asked for “alimony” payments for Clara’s upkeep, requesting a monthly sum of 180,000 PTE, or about $1000. I was asked what I proposed and said that I found it morally repugnant that I should be required to subsidize Ms.Villaverde’s crime, but that I would pay whatever I was told to pay. I did not give a number. The judge set 60,000 PTE.
During this conference, Teresa at one point went into a long discourse in which she attempted to explain – without actually citing the phrases- that the phrases which I had said were sexually suggestive, were in fact little terms of “endearment” which I had misconstrued and attempted to use against her. Need I say I had never heard my daughter previously say the phrases listed above, and they are certainly not normal child-to-parent sweet words to my acquaintance.
At the same time – when I attempted to read some brief quotes from Clara, who has said consistently to me that she wishes to return to Rome, to her home which she says is in Rome, not Lisbon, and to be with me – Teresa’s lawyer interrupted saying such material was “illegal”; Teresa in her emails to me has written that Clara has and should have no voice in the matter of where she will live. So much for the “respect” which Teresa confers on Clara.
In my requests I noted that on the evidence of emails sent to me by Teresa Villaverde and behavior and conversations observed during her shooting of her new film, Agua e Sal (in which Clara plays a fictional child abducted first by her fictional father, played by Joaquim Almeida, and then by her fictional mother – a transparent stand-in for Teresa Villaverde as commented by most people who have read the script – a splayed by Galatea Ranzi) that Teresa herself had repeatedly commented on her emotional and mental instability, her incapacity to distinguish between her film and her real life, her “confusion” and “craziness”. I asked that temporary custody be given to me on this basis, as well as that I had, up until Nov. 2, 2000, been present as Clara’s active care-giver for at least 85% of her life, while Teresa had been busy making Os Mutantes (13 months from April 1997 – May 1998), then touring festivals with it (to Nov. 1998), and had then begun the private work of writing Agua e Sal in January 1999. Those familiar with Teresa might understand what this means.
This meeting was initiated by Teresa Villaverde on Nov. 3, when she visited the Juvenile Court in Lisbon immediately on arriving with Clara on the day of her abduction. She sought sole custody. She had inquired first with the IRS what the Portuguese law is, and found, according to her, that unmarried mothers (Teresa and I lived together for more than 7 years) more or less automatically obtain custody of children in the sexist legal culture existent for these matters in Portugal. It is a bit ironic that Teresa Villaverde, who is often cited as a feminist, should seek refuge in the skirts of Portuguese law in such a manner when suddenly a bit of sexism is convenient.
The judge, in keeping with Portuguese convention and tradition, did award Teresa Villaverde temporary custody of Clara Jost, and awarded me a minimum of 3 hours access per day, with a two day notice given, for any days I am in Lisbon. I will be moving to stay in Lisbon as much as possible during the coming month or two while the legal mechanism slowly moves along, to accompany my daughter, and, frankly, to help buffer and protect her from the abuses her mother has so willfully inflicted upon her – first in uprooting her from her home, school, friends, cultural background, and not least, from the father who has tended to her most of her life. It is a major inconvenience for me to do so, but for love of my daughter I will do whatever is necessary, needless to say. The judge requested that the Instituto do Reinsercao Social arrange that Teresa, myself, and Clara be examined by psychiatrists. I had already requested the Clara be examined so as to provide evidence (aside from that which I possess) that Clara had been coached in saying sexually suggestive phrases, as well as to see if she had ever actually experienced sexual abuse, which I know – at least to my awareness, I cannot speak for Teresa Villaverde – she has not.
As noted, the Dec. 22, 2000 conference was done, technically, incomplete disregard of the Hague Convention notification of Dec. 14th, as the original judge receiving it, one floor below, had not yet gotten it to the present judge. In early January, this matter should be placed before the judge, and in keeping with the Hague Convention provisions, it should suspend the Portuguese procedures, shifting the matter to determining if the evidence provided to the Rome Central Authority, and also to the Portuguese one, and its request for the immediate return of Clara Jost to her home, is true and warranted. From indications given by Teresa and her lawyer, it is their intention to attempt to picture me as a violent person, a risk to Clara, etc. She will doubtless solicit testimony to this effect from family (I am certain they will be willing to say whatever Teresa asks them to say) and friends. I think any of those of you who know me know well the truth. Teresa’s need to mount this argument derives from her realization that indeed, by the law, she did in fact kidnap Clara, and she now needs to construct a justification for this, a justification so drastic that it warrants the violation of law, the abuses inflicted on her daughter in uprooting her in this manner, and so on. Apparently she has, per the email above, withdrawn from the effort to indoctrinate Clara to invent sexual abuse grounds, so now the tactic is construct a story of violence. Given that our household was, by most standards, rather pacific, and the only striking which ever occurred in it was Teresa hitting Clara or Clara hitting Teresa (because Clara wanted more from her mother than her mother was willing to give – to the point that Teresa has a bump on one side of her nose which she frequently told me she thought was caused by Clara’s striking of her there).
During the three visits I had with Clara the last days, under the orders of the Juvenile Judge, Clara on seeing me exclaimed “Daddy!” and immediately came into my arms, with not a moment of hesitation. We went to play and talk in her room, where Teresa came – counter to the judge’s ruling, to observe like a vulture. The visit was, according to the judge, to last one hour, and Teresa, after an hour intruded, but seeing that it would bother Clara, declined to throw me out as so clearly she intended. I left after an hour and a half, stating I wished to return for my minimum 3 hours at 10 am. At this Teresa argued it had been maximum 3 hours, and I said, OK, I will call my lawyer, which I did. Teresa became quite vehement, and annoyed that this was being said in front of Clara. In turn Teresa later called her lawyer to find out that yes, it was 3 hours minimum. However she then asked to take Clara shopping and we made an appointment for 4 pm. I arrived on time, and Teresa arrived 20 minutes later, saying Clara was at a movie. She arrived around 4:50, driven by Joana, Teresa’s sister. She had no seat belt on and I informed Joana and Teresa that I wanted Clara, for her protection and safety, with a seat belt at all times. Again, Teresa became angered. I stayed with Clara the evening, leaving around 8:30, at which time Teresa argued that I could not visit the next day before I flew to Roma at 12:30. She claimed I had not visiting rights that day. I differed, and said I would be there at 9 pm. At the door Teresa physically assaulted me, yelling, and was pulled off of me by Vasco Pimental, who was there all the time and apparently is there to act as a “witness” for Teresa.
Later that evening Teresa left a message at Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ where I was staying, saying Clara was sick and I could not come before 10 am. On Sunday, Dec. 24, I arrived at 9:30 am, was met at the door by Vasco Pimental who said Clara was sleeping and sick, and in bed with Teresa. I went into the darkened gloomy house, knocked at the bedroom door and entered where Teresa was dressing, and again said “Clara is sick.” I exited 2 minutes for Teresa to dress, re-entered and in a cheerful voice and demeanor said, “Good Morning Miss Clara,” at which she popped up, fine, except for a little cough – just like the one I had- and we got up and went to play for the two hours I had. We painted, built things, and I – so I had some pictures of her now – videotaped. While taping Teresa charged in and told me to stop, etc.
On departing for the airport, Clara said – again before Teresa – that she wanted to go to Rome, her home, with her Daddy. It is Christmas Day at the moment, Dec. 25th. I have called Teresa’s number at 10:30 and 12:50, thus far to no answer. I then tried sister Joana’s, again to no answer. One suspects the no-telephone practice is returning. It is my hope that on the introduction of the Hague Convention procedures and laws, that matters will quickly be resolved and that Clara will promptly be returned to her room in Rome, her school, and the life – her life – which was so crudely and thoughtlessly disrupted by her Mother’s illegal act of abduction and its psychologically damaging impact on Clara.
Acknowledging this damage, Teresa has sought consultation of Pedro Strecht, an apparently well-known child psychiatrist, with whom she is friends. I sent him the information I had regarding Teresa’s attempts to teach Clara sexually suggestive phrases, for the purpose of protecting Clara, and I believe he in turn warned her, probably counseling her to change her tactic as she could not make it stick. If, as I suspect this is so, I consider that he violated his professional standards in discussing it with Teresa, and that his evident interests are not, per a fax to me, in Clara’s best interests, but in protecting Teresa Villaverde from the consequences of her own actions.
Meantime Teresa continues to edit her film, Madragoa Filmes having broken or changed their contract with the Italian co-producer, who had planned, along with Teresa, to edit in Rome, and to shoot the missing final scene in Rome: the scene in which Clara is abducted.
Of this scene, on October 19th, Teresa wrote to me the following: “This film I am shooting is so similar to what I am feeling and living that sometimes I have a real hard time understanding. I miss Clara so much, I see her in the projections, saw her yesterday, very beautiful. I am worried bout the scene we shoot in Rome with her, because of the fight between the parents.”
On Oct. 28, she wrote, apparently in a cloud of paranoia thinking that I was about to abduct Clara, which she had told Vasco Pimental a number of times was her worry since Clara was but months old, and which on Oct 27th she wrote to me:
” … I really don’t understand why you stayed with me. I know why I stayed with you – fear, just fear. Fear that you take my daughter to go live somewhere, under some bridge where I’ll never find you.”
and then the following :
“By the way, in my movie the one who runs away with the child is thefather and by the way, in any international law, the parent who does that, looses automaticly the right to keep the child. No parent has the right to hide or take away a comun child. That is the law, and it’s a good law.”
On Nov. 2 or 3, 2000, Teresa Villaverde – in the eyes of the Italian Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, did precisely that, and, since that time has for 7 weeks kept Clara from telephone contact with her father for some 3 weeks, physical presence for 7 weeks, and when I went to see her on December 20, Teresa had fled.
I have filed in court in Lisbon to seek an injunction to forbid Teresa Villaverde and Madragoa Films from shooting the final abduction/fight scene with Clara, per Teresa’s alleged concerns. It is my intention broaden this to require that Clara Jost – for whom Madragoa Filmes had no contract up until Nov. 5 at least, and who will require my consent as father (and for which reason I believe Teresa Villaverde in part kidnapped Clara and went to seek sole custody, so she could sign an agreement unilaterally) – be excised completely from Teresa Villaverde’s grotesque home-movie, Agua e Sal. My request is based on my interest sin Clara Jost’s future well-being: that there is no manner in which Clara Jost, as a young woman of 15 or 17, seeing herself used in a quasi-autobiographical film written and directed by her mother, would be well-served seeing herself fictionally abducted by her fictional father,and then abducted again by her fictional mother. Especially after in reality her real mother, the film’s author and director, has herself abducted Clara in reality, subjected her to psychological coercions about where she lives and what her own life is, and had begun to attempt to teach her sexually suggestive phrases the intention of which was to frame her own father.
That Teresa Villaverde has not already renounced this film, and all its awful implications for her daughter, speaks fully and adequately as to her state of mind, her concern and compassion for her own daughter. Teresa Villaverde clearly sees her film as more important that her own daughter’s life, and the terrible negative impact that film has already had, and will have in the future should Clara ever see it. Paolo Branco of Madragoa Filmes was fully informed of this all, and not unexpectedly, was crudely dismissive and indicated to me on the telephone that he didn’t give a damned what I did, they would make the film and I could go fuck myself. On Teresa’s behalf, he has thus far shifted editing and post-production from Rome, in violation of his agreements with the co-production house there (Titti Films), and he clearly intends, along with Teresa, to finish in time for a grand Cannes display of Teresa Villaverde’s pathology. I have little doubts – though thus far no proof – that Paolo Branco and Teresa Villaverde have probably already written a falsely dated contract giving Teresa’s contractual consent for Clara’s presence in the film, and perhaps even a forged signature of my own to go with it. If so, it is purely fraudulent legally, though perhaps pristinely indicative of Teresa Villaverde’s true interests and utter lack of genuine love for her own daughter. I will do all I can to see that Clara is spared this catastrophic demonstration of Teresa Villaverde’s malignant egoism.
December 25, 2000.
Sorry it is so long, and a bit disorganized. It was written December 25, Christmas day, when I was, need I say, under terrible stress. I trust you might understand.
I will write of the following months as I promised, in the next few weeks.
Amo-te Clarinha !