How a stranger can snatch a child away from his parents, control the finances.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: Gautam (Tom) Nithyanand, 21, was born in India and traveled to Columbus, Ohio, with his parents in 2003.
When he was a student in high school in Detroit, Michigan, back in June of 2010, Tom was walking home from a friend’s house when he was struck by a vehicle while running from a lunging dog.
After spending the next month in a coma, Tom was eventually discharged from the hospital. He went to Rainbow Rehabilitation in Farmington Hills in Novi, close to Detroit, and was there three weeks before a doctor determined Tom’s best hope for recovery lie with him living at home with his family.
Typical of such accidents, the family received an insurance settlement through the driver of the vehicle that hit Tom.
The family was duly advised that as non-US citizens, Tom needed a court-appointed conservator so that he could legally set up a trust for the insurance money received from the accident. It was recommended by their attorney that the family use a professional guardian/conservator based in metro Detroit named Steven Siporin, who was named by the court in early 2014.
He had two subsequent meetings with Tom and his father, Anand (Andy) Sadashivan — but that was the last they heard from Saporin. His parents got divorced in 2004.
What happened next, as recounted on Learnfromtom.com, is barely recognizable as anything other than kidnap:
One day last June, Tom and Andy got into a verbal argument over spending money for an evening Tom had planned with friends – a typical argument for young adults and parents.
Tom mentioned the yelling argument to his case manager who was working close with Siporin, still co-guardian at the time. Full five days later representatives of Siporin showed up with court authorization that made him temporary full guardian and authorized him to rip Tom away from his home and take him to Rainbow Rehabilitation.
On July 23, Siporin managed to convince the court he should be sole guardian of Tom – cutting Tom’s father out of any decisions relating to Tom’s medical and financial activities. At a six-month review in February, a hearing was set for May 4 – Tom would be at Rainbow for another three months and the money for his care would keep flowing into the pockets of those who had the power to recommend his release.
Tom has been allowed to go home on weekends since the beginning of 2015 without incident. The next chance Tom has at being released from Rainbow Rehabilitation is after May 4-5, when a court hearing is scheduled on the matter in Oakland County Probate Court.
In the meantime, Tom’s father says Learnfromtom.com can help change a “system [that] significantly lacks the kind of checks and balances a system like this needs. The same parties who have the most to lose are the same who have the most influence over how much they lose. We feel that kind of system is flawed and want to draw attention to it so others don’t end up in a similar position.”
Tom and his family have a petition at Change.org that is still accepting signatures.