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'American girl' exiled to Siberia to press charges against her father

By Anna Liesowska
18 November 2013

Her US mom still refuses to take back the daughter who 'loves her', and who she abandoned in Russia 32 months ago.

'I wouldn't say that he beat me, but there were some physical altercations. I just feel like he left a scar on me, and that's something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life'. Picture: NTV channel, Russia

Sofia Petrova - also known as Sofia Roberts - was sent a few days after her 15th birthday to Siberia by her mother as punishment for bad behaviour. She was supposed to live with her biological father Igor Petrov and attend a Russia school, even though her mother had taught her no Russian, but is now planning charges against him for alleged inappropriate behavior. 

Sofia also accuses him of drunkenness - and as our previous story explained - she has moved out of his flat. During a recent visit, her father turned violent against Sofia's friend Nikita, in footage screened across Russia, but her mother Natalia Roberts, 36, continues to ignore her daughter's desperate pleas to be allowed home. 

For Sofia the clock is ticking: if she cannot get home to America, where she was raised since she was a small baby, by her 18th birthday in March, she may never have the right to be there. Parents in America, Russia and the world over have expressed horror on Moms' websites at the cruel parenting tactics of her mother, a high-flying academic, and her husband James 'Jim' Roberts, an attorney. 

The disturbing footage from NTV (see below) shows Sofia on the phone to her mother in America.

'Mom I know I made mistakes - like any person does, like any 14 years old does', pleads Sofia, now 17. 'But I am not just a piece of furniture you can throw to the rubbish. I am your daughter and I still love you. And please forgive me, I will mend my ways'.

Her mother is heard replying: 'As soon as your family, your father says that everything is normal, that 'she is behaving adequately'. At school they'll say that everything is normal and you get adequate marks, and I see that you've realised your mistakes, we with great joy ... '

She implies that when these conditions are met, Sofia can go back to the only place she feels at home, the US. The camera then follows the teenager with friend Nikita going to her father's flat to ask him to tell Natalia that she is now behaving adequately. The visit quickly descends into shouting and shoving as Petrov seeks to get his daughter inside the door, telling her that Natalia, his ex-wife, had gagged him and not given him 'permission to speak'.

An emotional Sofia asks him: 'And did you need to get permission when you were coming home drunk? Did you need permission then?'

At one point, there is an ugly scuffle as Petrov tries to kick Nikita out of the flat. Petrov then tells NTV: 'Her mentality cannot be changed. It is purely American. And she is trying to - I don't know how to say it right - she is trying to set her own, American, laws here. So that everything here goes the way she likes it'.

Sofia said she is preparing a legal case against her father. 

'All of the claims against my biological father are 100% true. And I will be seeking to press charges,' she said. 'I am making all of these statements because they are true. Whether I stay here in Russia, or return to my homeland, I will not be silent! 

'What he did is not right, and never will be. So many children stay silent out of fear, and I was also this way. But then I understood that I am strong, and I have a voice. And I can be a voice not only for myself, but for all children that are dealing with these same problems as I am. You should never be afraid of anyone, even if the whole world is against you. Always stand for the truth and stand with god and everything will be okay.'

Ask what he had done to her, she replied: 'I wouldn't say that he beat me, but there were some physical altercations. I just feel like he left a scar on me, and that's something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life.'

Asked what punishment she sought for him, she said: 'I don't know, I just want him out of my life for good.'

Sofia Roberts father Igor Petrov

'What he did is not right, and never will be. So many children stay silent out of fear, and I was also this way'. Picture: NTV channel, Russia

In a desperate appeal to her mother - who appears deaf to her daughter - she said on Facebook: 'I love my mom and my sister very much, and don't know what I would do if something bad happened to them'.

She begged critics of her mother and stepfather not to 'terrorise' them and to stop passing their contact details to people who have harassed them.

'They don't deserve harassing and threatening phone calls. It's not helping me in any way. All it's doing is adding more hate into this world, which is unneeded. I love my parents and don't want to fight fire with fire. Please share this so everyone is aware!'

Of her plight, living and working in a hostel in Novosibirsk which has given her a home and care denied her by her parents, she said: 'Everyone says that love hurts, but that's not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love, but in reality, love is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain and makes someone feel wonderful again.'

Sofia said she is overwhelmed by the support she has had, even if she doesn't yet have a route back to the US. 

In one entry, she wrote: 'Sitting here at almost 4 in the morning, and can't sleep. Yes, the reporters and blogs have helped me a lot to get my story out there, and I am very thankful for that. But it is you, regular people, that really make the difference, I read every single message and every comment, and while I cannot answer to all of them, I do want to say a huge thank you to all my supporters. 

'You guys are amazing! You guys give me the strength to keep fighting. And I hope that someone can take me as an inspiration and not be afraid, as a child we were told that adults were always right. But that's not true, they make mistakes just as children do. 

'I hope this all is not just going to help me, but help children all over the world. Children need to have a voice, and never be afraid. Remember always, that there are so many kind people all over the world that love and care about you. I am one of those. Thank you everyone for all the support!'

In another message, she said: 'If any of you are in the process of talking to lawyers and attorneys, please be aware that my legal name is Anastasiya Petrova.  But I am known as Sofia Roberts.'

Unlike her mother, who obtained US citizenship, Sofia remains a Russian citizen.

Comments (29)

BTW, someone above asked if her parents tried to get her help before abandoning her -- no they did not. Her former school in Virginia said they'd never been notified of any problems with Sofia. Everyone here was shocked at what happened and her friends are trying hard to find a way to get her back. Her mother and step father do NOT have her best interests at heart, at all. Nor Igor's for that matter -- he did not want to have her left with him, so far as I can determine from the stories.
Sue H, Boston, USA
25/11/2013 04:20
Sofia is a courageous girl who was shamefully abandoned by her wealthy parents and left for Igor to deal with -- both of them had to share his tiny apartment, he is said to drink frequently, and the school teachers and director tried to talk to her mother to have her moved out of his place. Her mother refused to discuss the issue with the director of the school. Her parents literally lied and tricked her into returning to Russia, a place she has never seen and did not speak the language. They maliciously canceled her green card application in the US and did not renew her US residency. I'm appalled that anyone would blame her for being abandoned, abused, and rejected for doing what many teens in the US and Russia do. Her parents also seem to be lying about some of the things she allegedly did. Her friends, and her Russian teachers, have all said she's a normal, studious, decent kid. Shame on you all for taking her parents die. I'm proud of her for pressing charges and sticking up for her right to live in a decent, peaceful, non-alcoholic home.
Sue H, Boston, USA
25/11/2013 04:18
Is it cruel? Lets see...
She is with the family on her homeland. Am I missing something?

Cruel would be and correct me if I am wrong to let this child do whatever she wants except what her parents ask of her. Accusations of all sorts including sex abuse are probably not that important, right?
So let's ALL participate and teach this young lady that it is the way cookie crumbles and she should use these approaches all her life (why not? it worked once) .
Don't you agree that the cruel action will be to actually allow that, because that is monstrous and consequences are way beyond imagination?
William Codd, New York
22/11/2013 19:10
I wanted to add that I do not condone shipping a child off in this manner, though. This wasn't right. I haven't read up on the entire story, as there are ALWAYS two sides, but that's not right. I would hope that this mother did everything she could to try to help her child. But I must add, time runs short through these years and swift action sometimes is necessary. Even still, family isn't suppose to abandon or give up on family-ever. A clear, set "contract" on what she needs to do is definitely a start.
Elyse, Seattle, Washington
22/11/2013 09:17
The issues this country is facing with teens is ridiculous and there isn't a lot a parent can do here. We have nearly NO recourse for a childs behavior. We can try to get "help" and we can set consistent rules, but a lot of the generation these days have NO conscience. A lot of the parenting we have come to depend on simply isn't working. Our kids are getting on drugs, they are running away, they are trying to set their own rules. I do not know if other countries are having similar issues, but I see it all over here and from the sound of it, this young lady is no different. If she truly wanted to get back home, she would work to meet the requests of her parents. Set clear guidelines on needs to be done and meet them-instead, she's fishing for peoples sympathy and grasping at straws. Just do what your parents tell you. When you are 18 and paying your own bills than you can have the say. I was able to do that along with much of the previous generations. I don't get why that's so hard for most kids these days. Get up, get your butt to school, do your homework and chores and follow the darn rules.
Elyse, Seattle, Washington
22/11/2013 09:04
I came to this site expecting to read a more detailed story of this unfortunate girl. The evidence I have seen here defends the actions of her mother and father. She is clearly in need of discipline and is displaying none.

Thank you for the detailed posts defining this story.
Bill, California, United States
21/11/2013 08:56
Look at her search for a "SUGAR DADDY" on the sugar-daddy website:

Anatoly, Novosibirsk
20/11/2013 22:35
20/11/2013 20:03
Want to add a bit about Sofia's father. I talked with him a couple of times and he made ​​me a mixed impression. He constantly confused in testimony, changes his statements and he is completely under Natalya Roberts influence. He does not have his own opinion, constantly repeats: 'I was told', 'American side considers' and so on. When I asked him directly - Did you try to sort out this situation by yourself? He answered me - No. When I learned that Sofia wants to sue him, I was surprised and thought it is too much, it is bad idea. I asked her, about her accusation and understood, that she can not quite articulate them. She just feels that his behavior was wrong. I saw this TV show on first channel, which mentions Sveta and it seems to me that Sofia's father looks like a child, but not as an adult person, I compared this with my own feelings and can say definitely - I could not live with such a man. No way. Look, there is a 'good' Russian family tradition - you can shout 'alarm' only when you are heavily beaten by your parents or there are some sexual harassment, violence. But if you parent bawls, pushes you and tells you nonsense while drunk - it's ok. It is your beloved parent, you must be respectful and silent. But is it normal? I do not want to say, Sofia is an angel, angels are in heaven. But please, before blaming her, just imagine - you are suddenly forced to live with a strange unfamiliar man, his behavior looks strange to you, you do not understand this completely - what will you do? Love can not be imposed by force. And not without reason many say that the real family based not on blood relations, but on spiritual closeness. Maybe it is worth not to take this story so emotionally, but to tale it as a parable of lack of understanding and alienation.
Asiya , Novosibirsk
20/11/2013 13:36
How can you hold a child accountable for the situation she is in now? Really? If she needed discipline than that is the mom's job. However, dropping off a child in a foreign land with strangers is abuse and neglect as well as cruel. An adult would have difficulty dealing with the situation. Does she sound aggressive? Maybe. I would, too. She is desperate to get home and be loved. She feels alone and desperate. I would help if I knew how to help. Her mother does not deserve children.
cory moeller, usa
20/11/2013 11:50
Shame, shame, shame on the girl!

What are the limits? Is there any?



Do not forget her "innocence" - real (!!!) American boyfriend from age of 14

or the Russian boyfriend (24 years old) - see her Facebook for the "juicy" pictures

O yes, she did use drugs even according to her:
Sveta, Novosibirsk
20/11/2013 09:15
жалко мужика, а не девицу
The local, Siberia
20/11/2013 06:25
If you approach this from a completely neutralized point of view, her tone and diction, behind the pleading, appears not wholehearted. There's a hint of aggression, just a strand of rebellious nature, still there. As her father said, she's trying to go about this in a foreign way in respect to the country she's in. If you actually stayed up-to-date with her story, there are many things she still does that seems questionable and frivolous, this obviously being one of them. I mean think about it: she mentioned multiple times that her mother offered her that she can come back on conditions. Why has she not met those conditions yet? Rather, she doesn't even note them and continue to try to do things her own way. She even pressured, trying to force rather, her father to say she's behaving? And why are we only hearing her side of the story, which is bias per se? Just think and observe for a moment without letting emotions cloud your thoughts, people; it may not be as one-sided as it seems.
The unbiased and emotionally non-clouded judgement, USA
20/11/2013 02:50
So. She is going to sue him for what ? She said he did not beat her, and the reports here indicate that this was when he tried physically restrain her for leaving her house after midnight, having to hold her down as she refused to stay home. Is this the definition of a physical altercation ? You can sue somebody for that ?! If she wins I will take it back, but I will be happy to bet that she will never win.

So she also staged a video to make her mother look bad. Nice... wow, just like she did with her friend who let her stay with her there.

Also, when I look at the video, it shows her father being beaten by Nikita, not the other way around. Look closely, are you sure that they did not go there to force him to call his ex-wife, he refused and so they beat him. I could be wrong, but its at least how it looks to me. Why is the reporting so biased against the father.
interestedone, USA
19/11/2013 22:32

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