11 Apr 2007

US couple seeks gag order to get fair trial over adoption scam

2:19 pm on 11 April 2007

An American couple accused of an adoption scam involving Samoan children wants prosecutors restricted in their public comments on the case.

Karen and Scott Banks are charged with duping birth parents in Samoa into placing their children for adoption.

The case has generated extensive publicity.

The Banks, operators of Focus on Children, contend that statements from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the federal agencies that investigated the case could hurt their chance of a fair trial.

A motion filed yesterday asks for a gag order until the case concludes.

In February, a grand jury issued a 135-count indictment accusing Focus on Children and seven of its operators, with fraud and immigration violations.

The indictment alleges that the defendants tricked and coerced Samoan birth parents into giving their children to the agency for adoption, then falsely told the adoptive parent that the youngsters were orphans.