A Lithuanian court on Monday chose not to drop charges against Neringa Venckiene, the former Lithuanian judge who fled to Crystal Lake and was later extradited back to her native country after exposing an alleged pedophilia ring.
Venckiene had hoped that video footage of the day police and social workers reclaimed custody of Venckiene’s niece would exonerate her of criminal charges. On Monday, however, Venckiene’s request to dismiss the case was denied.
“They refused,” Venckiene said. “They want to prosecute me at any cost.”
Venckiene moved to Crystal Lake with her son in 2013 after she outed an alleged pedophilia ring, which she said involved her then-4-year-old niece. After spending about two years in a Chicago jail, Venckiene was extradited back to Lithuania in November 2019 without an asylum hearing. Venckiene remained free in Lithuania on Monday on a 10,000 euro bond and under Vilnius Regional Court supervision, according to LRT News.
The charges – resistance against a civil servant or a person performing the functions of a public administration (involving bruising a police officer) and hindering the activities of a bailiff – stem from an incident May 17, 2012. On that day, police and an attorney for the girl’s mother ripped the screaming child from Venckiene’s grip as a crowd of hundreds surrounded her home.
Venckiene hoped the most recent footage, which she posted to her Facebook page, would bolster her case.
“The video shows the Lithuanian officials committed the crimes,” Venckiene said. “The Lithuanian police, child protection officers and my niece’s biological mother used violence against my brother’s daughter.”
Venckiene told the Northwest Herald she believes the video was shared with her accidentally by the Lithuanian prosecutor on her case. She came across it while reviewing the evidence that prosecutors turned over during the discovery process, she said.
“Nobody saw this video until now,” Venckiene said. “Lithuanian government didn’t send it to USA.”
The video shows the girl clinging to Venckiene as Lithuanian officials and the girl’s mother pry her fingers from Venckiene’s sweater, which she had been clinging to.
“The Lithuanian government lied to the United States, by claiming in the extradition request that they had a video recording that I am using violence,” Venckiene said. “The video proves that they lied. In reality, the Lithuanian government used violence against my niece and me.”
The removal happened while Lithuanian officials held Venckiene’s arms behind her, dislocating her shoulder in the process, she said. At one point, Venckiene can be seen using her foot to push the girl’s biological mother away as the woman tries to pull the girl by her arms away from Venckiene.
Venckiene’s son, Karolis Venckus, said the video also underscores the Lithuanian government’s response to child sexual abuse allegations. In 2008, Venckiene’s niece told her grandparents she was being molested by three men who were friends of her mother’s. They later were identified as Lithuanian public officials, according to court documents.
“The video shows how the Lithuanian government decided to return an 8-year-old girl back to the mother that she was testifying against in a pedophilia case,” Venckus said. “And when the girl refused to go with them, they twisted her arms, pulled her by the neck, and carried her out screaming. This is what children’s rights look like in Lithuania.”
Following the court hearing, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith issued a statement Monday urging the Lithuanian government to end its case against Venckiene.
“These proceedings are highly irregular, taking place, I am told, after the statute of limitations has expired – and while Lithuania and the world are focused on the COVID-19 crisis,” Smith said. “Regrettably Judge Venckiene was extradited to Lithuania before her scheduled asylum hearing in the United States.”