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melg22

 

American actress Melissa George – yes she’s a Yank, we’ll explain in a second – made a heart-wrenching appearance on Channel 7’s Sunday Night program a couple of nights ago in which she tearily detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of her former partner Jean-David Blanc, and decried the injustices she is facing as a result of legal sanctions the French courts have placed on her ability to travel outside of the country with the couple’s children.

It was emotional stuff that sparked an outpouring of support for George from all quarters, and was followed up the next day my a multi-page spread in Hello magazine that was part two of the deal her agent cut for George to exclusively tell her tale to the media stablemates for an unknown but undoubtedly substantial pile of cash.

Now I’m a passionate advocate for putting a stop to domestic violence and abuse, and have a long and demonstrable record of railing against violence against women. That doesn’t mean however that I naively swallow every tale of alleged abuse that I’m told, for in my game it pays to maintain a healthy skepticism about everything I read and hear, particularly when I’m only getting one side of the story, and in a heavily edited and slanted paid interview at that.

So I have to confess that I have some major reservations about the terrible tale of abuse that Melissa George is telling us, and want to bring to your attention some of the things that I suspect that she is not. I’m a great believer in balance, and given that the French privacy laws regarding the publication of material relating to the dissolution of personal relationships prevent Jean-David Blanc from putting his side of the story,  I’ve decided to serve you up a small platter of food for thought from the alternative perspective..

Here it is.Make of it what you will.

Citizenship

On the Sunday Night program, and again in Hello magazine, George has pleaded for help from ‘her country’, meaning Australia. But Melissa George is not an Australian and this is no longer her country: she is a citizen of the United States and has been for almost the past decade, during which she has lived exclusively overseas, in the US, Chile, Argentina and France, only briefly returning to Australia during that time to visit family or for short-term work engagements on mini-series such as The Slap.

When she became a US citizen in 2008 George – like Rupert Murdoch before her – knowingly and willingly renounced her Australian Citizenship, as all new Americans who take the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America are required to do under section 337(a) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

This is the oath that George swore almost a decade ago:

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I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to … any state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen. 

In layman’s language it means piss off Australia, I divorce you – I’m now a Yank.

There’s no two ways about it – George is no longer an Australian citizen. So why is she pleading for help from Australia, the country she turned her back on (not to mention sledged viciously a couple of years ago, but let’s not get into that). The reality is that in the unlikely event that the US and Australia declared war upon each other Melissa George would be fighting with the GI Joe’s not the diggers, so if it’s help from her country that she wants, it’s Donald Trump to whom she should turn.

The Assault Convictions

Contrary to what George is telling the world through her PR spin doctors and the lazy, compliant Australian pulp media, the domestic violence episode that spawned all this controversy wasn’t a one way street: she and Blanc both suffered injuries in the affray in their apartment that 2016 evening, and in February of this year each were convicted by a French court on a single count of domestic assault.

In making his ruling the presiding Magistrate rejected the competing allegations made by each of George and Blanc that the other wholly to blame for the affray and the assaults and held them equally to blame, determining that their respective injuries were caused as consequence  of ‘Violences Volontaires’.

Ths French legal phrase literally translates to ‘voluntary violence’, and accurately reflects the court’s finding that:

(a) the parties were involved in a physical fight in their home on the evening;

(b) each inflicted injuries upon the other during the fight;

(c) it was not possible on the evidence presented to determine who may have been at fault or which party was the prime protagonist in the affray.

Blanc has lodged an appeal against his conviction. It is not known whether George has also lodged an appeal, although it is reasonable to assume that she would have brought the matter to public attention if she had.

The Oddity

Curiously, in the paid interview aired last night George made the unprompted remark about the incident and her subsequent break-up with Blanc that “It was a separation that shouldn’t have happened. It was an accident and it got out of hand and now I have to suffer the consequences”.

This statement of course appears totally at odds with the widespread claims the actress has made – and repeated last night – both about Blanc’s alleged violence expressed in the assault, and his behavior toward her during their relationship and post-separation. Unfortunately Sunday did not probe George further on the issue, so the important questions raise must remain unanswered for now.

The Injuries

George’s claims about the extent of her injuries are also highly questionable.

The actress , who did not attend the police station to lodge a complaint about Blanc’s alleged attack until 3am, after which she says that a police detective escorted her to a local hospital due to concerns about her condition, which she told the Sunday program last night included marks around her wrists, bruising on her back and hip, a broken inner lip and a huge lump above her eye

“The worst part” a tearful George told the Sunday reporter ‘was my neck. My neck wasn’t able to move, turn left, right, up or down”

Yet the very morning of the assault, only hours after she had made her police statement and allegedly been admitted to hospital, George was photographed in Paris driving her children to their creche, and again snapped walking them to the creche gates, and in these photographs George shows no visible signs of injury or impairment.

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This begs a number of questions, and when considering them it is important to be aware that the photographs of George lying on what appears to be a hospital bed and displaying clearly visible bruising around her left eye were not in fact taken on the day of the assault, but rather some 8 days later.

The first question seems obvious. If, as she claims, George’s neck was injured to the extent that she could not move or rotate her head, then why did the medical staff at the hospital to which she claims to have been admitted not either

(a) insist that she remain in the medical facility overnight for observation and treatment; or alternatively

(b) treat her neck injury prior to discharge by following the usual medical practice for injuries of this type, the application of a brace?

That the hospital did neither of these things is decidedly odd, but it is nowhere near as strange as the next question:

If George’s head and neck were immobilised as a result of the damage wrought by Blanc during his assault, then how on earth was she able to drive a motor car just hours after these injuries were incurred?

The obvious answer is that she could not, which by itself casts huge doubt over George’s teary-eyed tale, but it is nor the only disparity between the actress’s account of the seriousness of her injuries, and the photographic evidence of mere hours later. Take some of George’s other claimed injuries for example.

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Although it is difficult to ascertain because the actress is wearing the de rigueur  hat and glasses of her trade, the prominent injury around the eye displayed in the photographs taken more than a week later is not obvious or seemingly apparent in the photograph of George (above) taken with her son and mother-in-law just hours after the assault.

Similarly, in the photo (below) taken the same morning, there does not appear to be any visible bruising or marks on George’s wrists of the type she described; in fact there are no physical signs at all indicating that Blanc had violently restrained her by the wrists in the that the actress has repeatedly claimed. It’s a most curious anomaly isn’t it?

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The Uber Driver

The claims of the alleged Uber driver Owais Atique need to be viewed cautiously as well, given that this is the first time that he has spoken publicly about picking George up that morning and taking her to the police station, and more importantly, that the immigrant low-wage earner was presumably paid for his interview by the Sunday program.

The cash for stories method of reporting has always presented issues regarding the veracity of the claims made by those that have induced by payments to make them, and just ask yourself this question: if Atique had said that he did not clearly recall picking George up that morning, or if he told the Sunday reporter that he didn’t notice whether she was seemingly injured or not, do you imagine that the program would have proceeded to strike a contract for payment for such a bland tale? It appears unlikely.

The Attempted Exodus

It is accepted fact that a week after the incident that led to the couple’s immediate separation George attempted to leave France with her children on a private jet without Blanc’s knowledge or consent. When he became aware of her intended flight Blanc immediately sought and was granted a legal order preventing the plane from leaving French soil; and made a corresponding complaint to police about the incident. Investigations are ongoing.

George has repeatedly made passionate assertions that the aborted trip was to be for work purposes, that it had been planned for a month, and that it had been agreed to by Blanc.

This appears to be a highly disingenuous claim however given the events of the previous seven days, for the couple’s world has suddenly shifted on its axis. Their relationship disintegrated and they had separated following the incident in the apartment; both had made police complaints of assualt by the other, and court appearances were pending; and their personal travails had become public and were being extensively reported internationally in a media blitz driven largely by George’s team. Plus there were the usual post-separation details to be dealt with: kids, living arrangements, finances, and more.

Clearly all bets were off, and arrangements made a month before – when George was gushing effusively to the media about the joys of their relationship – were off too. The couple had entered a brave new world of criminal charges, court supervised custody and access arrangements, and the dissolution and dispursment of their joint assets. Overnight all had changed utterly, and George surely knew it.

In these circumstances George’s claim that her actions in attempting to remove herself and her children from France to the United States – where she and the children hold citizenship, but Blanc does not  – is simply spurious, and damages her credibility immeasurably. As do her present claims that her children are being prevented from visiting their relatives in Australia: the actress was not taking her kids to Perth to see their Grandma, she was taking them to the US. And here’s why.

Melissa’s Likely Motive

The French laws applying to relationship breakdowns and family matters are very, very different to those that apply in many US states, including those of California, the home of Hollywood which is where George was likely to have fled.

Parenting arrangements are almost identical in both jurisdictions, and very similar to those here in Australia, with shared care and joint parental responsibility the default position. But the major difference – the pivotal issue for those wanting to properly critically examine George’s claims – is that whilst both country’s laws allow for what we in Australia know as child support payments, the US legal jurisdiction also provides for the payment of alimony (or spousal support) to the partner in the less advantaged financial position, whereas the French jurisdiction does not.

As highlighted earlier, George is a US citizen and as such, provided that she travels on a US passport – which she does, hence her complaints about not holding a French work visa – she is entitled to the protection of the US courts. This means that, based on extensive legal case precedence,  once the actess sets foot on US soil with her children she is highly unlikely ever be ordered by a US court to return to France, and may commence legal proceedings in relation to the separation without fetter.

Such an action would undoubtedly include an application for an alimony order, and all of a sudden Melissa George is rolling in clover, for if matters relating to the dissolution of the relationship had been dealt with in France the best she could have been afforded was a one-off property settlement as a division of the joint assets of the relationship, and ongoing child support payments allowing for the provision of the children’s reasonable needs.

Under the French legal system, all of these matters are determined in a closed court process that does not allow for depositions, contested claims, cross-examination or reporting by the media, which of course blunts the ability of a high-profile litigant such as George to employ a suite of extra-court strategies such as a PR campaign to attempt to force a larger settlement in their favor.Of course no such restrictions apply in the US of A: in the home of the brave and the land of the free it’s simply  open slather.

That’s not the main game though, it’s just an add on.

The real deal is Alimony, the payment of large sums of cash from here to eternity by the wealthier former partner so that their former partner may be maintained in the style to which he or she (usually the latter- only 3% of alimony claimants are men) had become accustomed during their relationship.

This means big money for Melissa George – huge – because the State of California applies a formula that determines spousal support by taking into account the relative earning power and assets of the parties. While George’s annual earnings are estimated to be around $2 million in a good year, and her assets a not too shabby $5 million (which makes it seem odd that she’s crying poor), the internet and entertainment tycoon Blanc pulls in several times that in an average month and is worth an absolute poultice, which means that any court in the Golden State is going to award George plenty.

Now call me a cynic if you will, but I reckon George has 100 million or more reasons to have legal matters relating to her separation dealt with in her home country of the United States rather than on Blanc’s turf in the straight down the middle legal system of France. In fact, at the risk of being flayed by pro-Melissa brigade, I reckon there’s a wee bit more than an outside chance that she’s playing us all for fools.

But hey, I’m just a third-rate blogger that no-one reads, and I don’t pay punters to tell their stories on my website, so what the hell would I know?  So I’ll leave you to make up your own mind, and exit stage left but one word of sage advice: don’t believe everything you see and read in the mainstream media.

Comprendre?