Her adoptive parents, Michael and Kristine Barnett, have been cleared of cr*iminally neglecting her when they abandoned her and moved to Canada. The couple also legally changed her age to 23 overnight.
However, there are now fresh claims that may prove Natalia was a minor at the time. And prosecutor Beth Karas told DailyMail.com said she is ‘exploring’ legal action against the Barnetts and she has a ‘good chance of success’.
‘(Because of) the effect the re-aging had on her, she was denied an education, she says ‘my childhood was taken away from me,” Karas said, adding that the action may also see Natalia seek to re-age herself back to her original birthdate of September 2003.
‘If she can bring a case, it would look pretty good for her,’ Karas said.
Natalia confronts her adoptive parents in upcoming series The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, which premieres across three consecutive nights on ID beginning Monday, January 1, airing nightly from 9-11PM ET/PT.
The series also promises to finally reveal exactly how old Natalia really is through sophisticated DNA testing.
Karas, who also appears in the series, said she is ‘pretty confident that people will conclude what her age is, probably after two episodes’.
The strange saga of Natalia Grace began shortly after her adoption by the Barnetts in 2010 in Florida via a Ukrainian adoption center. Shortly after being adopted, the family claims she displayed violent, disturbing and erratic behavior, including threatening to k*ill them by looming over their bed with a knife and poisoning Kristine’s coffee.
Natalia Grace has never been charged with a cr*ime.
The Barnetts had her legally re-aged in 2012 and fled to Canada, they say for their lives, while leaving Natalia in an ill-suited apartment in Lafayette, Indiana.
When they were charged with neglect for leaving her in the apartment, her legal re-aging meant Michael and Kristine were only charged with neglect of a dependent instead of a child.
Michael was acquitted at trial in October 2022, and charges against Kristine were dropped before trial in March 2023.
But the adoptee has spoken out against her former family for the outlandish allegations against her, which also included trying to drag Kristine into an electric wire fence.
In an early look at the upcoming show, Natalia confronted Michael and sternly said: ‘I was never in y’all’s room with a knife.’
‘In every lie is a hidden truth, but you’ve got to dig enough to be able to see it,’ she said. ‘They’re not going to get away with this. This is my side of the story, do I look like a monster to you?’
While Karas said the Barnetts are safe from a cr*iminal perspective after their charges were dismissed ‘with prejudice’, they could now face a civil lawsuit from Natalia as she ‘explores’ legal action against them.
‘The burden of proof is much lower,’ Karas said of Natalia’s chances of success. ‘It’s not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s a preponderance of the evidence more likely than not that this happened.’
The legal expert said her case could be strengthened thanks to new perspectives seen in the upcoming series from people who ‘couldn’t talk before’, including Natalia, the lead prosecutor in Michael’s trial, and an investigator.
Karas pointed to Natalia’s legal age change in 2012 as the ‘defining moment’ in her case, and speculated that the Barnetts may have had ulterior motives in their decision to seek her re-aging.
The former prosecutor previously told DailyMail.com that the legal process used immediately made her feel that ‘something just wasn’t right about this case’.
She said Natalia was never represented in court and was left uninformed over the process, which she argued should raise doubt over its accuracy.
‘(It was) based on that affidavit alone, without any witnesses or hearing, Natalia did not have any guardian or anybody in court representing her, she was totally in the dark,’ she said.
Karas now claims that after further review of the re-aging process, a ‘f*raud was perpetrated on the court’, arguing that the court ‘didn’t have all the information about her age’ while the Barnetts withheld information.
One particularly striking allegation of this, detailed in the upcoming season, comes from a bombshell report from a doctor named only as ‘Dr Riggs’, who examined Natalia shortly after her adoption in June 2010.
Riggs established that the child was between six and eight years old, and a skeletal survey two years later at the same hospital then also determined that she was around 11.
Court records filed by prosecutors claimed Barnett acknowledged in an interview that he knew Natalia was a minor, before he moved his family to Canada in 2013 and leaving her alone in an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana.
Barnett’s attorney denies he ever made such an admission.
Karas said the Barnett’s re-aging was ‘always suspicious to me, continuing: ‘But it became more egregious than ever, and if I were the judge in that, knowing what we know now, I would not be happy.’
While the Barnetts claimed they moved her out of fear for their family’s safety, Karas said their case could have also been motivated by a desire to avoid paying for Natalia’s mounting expenses.
‘We know that Natalia needed a lot more medical attention and surgeries that perhaps the Barnetts were not aware of when they first got her,’ she said.
‘She was going to be financial drain. Not everything would be covered by insurance,’ she added, noting that Kristine may have been hesitant to spend money generated from her bestselling book ‘The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism’, about their gifted autistic son Jacob.
‘It looks like she had various plans to get rid of Natalia, either by having her psychiatrically committed, cri*minally charged or re-aged, and get her out of their lives.’
The Barnett’s previously made their case on ID’s initial series, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, where they detailed their growing suspicions over the new addition to their family almost as soon as they welcomed her in 2010.
This included a trip to Disney World, where Kristine claims she was stunned to discover Natalia, who they believed to be six at the time, had ‘full pubic hair’ while giving her a bath.
In the months after that, the couple allege that there was ‘a lot of escalation’. This included claims she had been hiding her period from them for months.
As the months wore on, Michael claimed it became apparent they were living with a menace, to the point she ‘threatened to stab’ her new siblings.
‘She would do as much as possible to cause hurt or harm or mental distress to the entire family,’ Michael said.
‘She tried to poison and k*ill my wife,’ he claimed. ‘(And) one night, I opened my eyes and Natalia is standing at the foot of the bed with a knife in her hand.’
Natalia said seeing these claims go unchecked in the show was ‘shocking’ and ‘frustrating’, and urged people to wait to hear her side of the claims before passing judgement.
‘It’s very frustrating to hear everything that’s being said from Kristine and Michael because I already don’t know who I am, and I want to know who I am, what happened to me,’ she said in an early look at the upcoming show.
‘But I’m hearing all this stuff that never actually happened from Kristine and Michael… And people are believing what Kristine and Michael are saying without even hearing my side.
‘This is my side of the story, and I’m gonna say what happened because I never got a chance to say what happened. Y’all have heard Kristine and Michael and what they have said, but you need to hear both sides in order to know what really happened.’
The center of Michael Barnett’s case in 2022 was his decision to move Natalia to her own apartment in Indiana shortly before the family moved to Canada.
Later in court, Natalia would testify that sustained herself mostly on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Ramen Noodles and an occasional pizza. She said she had limited use of her hands and arms, and struggled to open canned food.
It was also claimed that the apartment was not fit for purpose as she was forced to struggle up stairs on a daily basis, and neighbors recalled seeing her wearing dirty clothing, scuffed shoes and stinking of body odor.
Locals added that they were struck by Michael’s occasional presence outside the apartment in sports cars while Natalia was left inside a squalid apartment.
Those near her also described her as a ‘pest’ to the community, where she would enter homes uninvited and even faced allegations of inappropriate behavior with local children. She denied the claims.
Michael said the family left her in Indiana and moved to Canada to support his 15-year-old prodigy son’s time at college. But some of the family’s critics claim the move was motivated by the desire to get rid of Natalia.