Originally created 10/24/98

Moceanu not pressured to sue parents



HOUSTON -- Gymnast Dominique Moceanu says her decision to sue her parents was "the hardest thing I've done in my life" and insisted no one influenced her decision.

"Let me make it perfectly clear, no one is pushing or pressuring me into this decision," the 17-year-old said in a prepared statement read aloud by her attorney, Roy W. Moore. "It is something I have thought about for a long time and recent decisions by my father made it clear to me that it had to be done immediately."

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist fled her parents' Houston-area home late Sunday and on Monday filed a lawsuit demanding to be declared a legal adult so she could get answers about how her earnings are being spent, primarily by her father, Dumitru Moceanu.

"I want whatever I have earned to be under my control so I know how my earnings are being used and I want to be able to train and compete in the sport I love for the right reason, because I love it, not because my father tells me I have to make more money," Moceanu said in her statement.

On Friday, her parents -- Dimitru and Camelia Moceanu -- fought back, asking a judge Friday to dismiss their daughter's lawsuit, and the temporary restraining order against them.

In four petitions filed with the 309th state District Court in Houston, they asked a judge to dissolve the temporary restraining order and return their child to them, that Miss Moceanu's request for adult status be dismissed and that a new hearing be held on the matter. A judge will consider the motions on Nov. 4 and on Nov. 11, a judge will consider whether to grant Miss Moceanu adult status.

"It is really emotional for them," said Jimmy Phillips Jr. an attorney for the Moceanus. "They have worked with their child, they have been a family unit."

The gymnast claimed her trust fund was being squandered by her father, that her earnings, socked away in a trust fund, have bankrolled a $4 million gym bearing her name and other, more risky investments without her approval.

Phillips claims Texas family law requires that at least one parent or a legal guardian must support a minor's request to be legally declared an adult before a judge can approve it. He claims it's doubtful whether Moceanu is "sufficiently sophisticated" to take care of herself.

"In her instance, it means more than having enough money for food and lodging," the Moceanus' attorney said. "She has a terrific ability and I'm not so sure she has the sufficient sophistication to handle the legal contracts, the money she does receive."

But the gymnast's attorney Roy W. Moore, disagreed.

"He's stretching," said Moore."It's our belief that the parents in this action -- because of their diametrically opposed position of the petition -- that they are, of course, unavailable to sign the petition."

Except for an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Moceanu, a senior at the private Northland Christian School, has remained in seclusion all week.

In her statement, she said the decision to sue for adult status, is not one she recommends.

"I'm not saying this is right for all minors ... but under this circumstance, it is," she said.