Dominique Moceanu, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic gymnastic team that won a gold medal, has filed a petition that asks for the "removal of disability of minority." If it is granted, she will be declared an adult.
She claims the money she has earned has been squandered by her parents. Having just turned 17, Dominique has another year under her parents' guardianship until she is a legal adult in Texas.
Her parents are fighting her petition. A hearing is set for November 11. In the meantime, a guardian has been appointed by the court.
Dominique's attorney, Roy Moore, says, "She's asking to be allowed to act as an adult and be out from under the thumb of what she considers not good management by her parents."
Her father, Dumitru Moceanu, says this comes as a surprise:
"We never discussed this. This is new to me." And he adds, "Nothing is true. I don't know where he (Moore) is getting this informationÂ….If he's a father, if he has children, he should speak out, he should bring Dominique out, let me talk with her, me and my wife. And let's resolve this."
Morceanu says the $1 million that his daughter has earned has gone into her trust, "which is the gym and the property."
As for criticism that he drives expensive cars, Moceanu says,
"I always drive nice cars since I came to the United States. This is nothing new. I drive always Mercedes. So, if Mr. Moore is not informed, I will tell him right now, I work hard in this country for the last 18 years. I own a lot of money and I deserve it. I always have beautiful houses since I came to the United States."
Moore says that there is more to the story: "I don't think he's telling it exactly like it is. I do not know really anything about Mr. Moceanu. I know his daughter cares for him. She is deathly afraid of him. She is backed certainly by a lot of people who have told me things that I take for granted as being told... If my child were 17 years of age, I would certainly let her be emancipated, as this woman has asked to do. But then I never lived off my child."
Moceanu denies allegations that he struck Dominique and tried to prevent her from training in a gym in Plano, Texas by forcibly removing her and returning her home.
Moceanu believes someone else is leading his daughter into this legal battle: "I think it's somebody behind, it's somebody behind thisÂ…not Dominique."
Dominique says she want to be out from under the strain so she can train for the Olympics in Australia in 2000.
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