A man who famously raised thousands of dollars for his Down’s Syndrome baby has been charged with assaulting the person entrusted with the money.
Samuel Forrest is accused of assaulting Trina Mclachlan, the trustee he asked to help look after a fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in a public campaign for his son, the New Zealand Herald reported.
In New Zealand, the male-assaults-female charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
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Mr Forrest, who has denied the charges, first made global headlines when an online appeal for baby Leo raised more than $500,000 from 17,900 donors.
His wife, Ruzan Badalyan, gave birth to baby Leo in her native Armenia, where children with Down’s Syndrome are often put up for adoption.
At the time, Mr Forrest said his wife had abandoned her son and he was planning to raise him alone in New Zealand. The pair has since patched things up and live together in West Auckland.
Mr Forrest’s lawyer initially asked for name suppression, arguing the family faced safety concerns if his name was on the record. Local media firmly petitioned the court against name suppression and Judge John Bergseng rejected Mr Forrest’s argument.
The alleged victim, Ms Mclachlan, has publicly expressed concerns about how the Go Fund Me money was being spent.
She said $380,000 was put into the trust but the balance had reduced by about $100,000.
Mr Forrest told the New Zealand Herald the money was being managed responsibly in investments Ms Mclachlan was not aware of.
Ms Mclachlan has since been replaced as co-trustee.
Mr Forrest used to belong to the Exclusive Brethren, a religious community that is mostly cut off from the rest of New Zealand society.
News break - July 30