March 1999












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Dominique and Father Reach Financial Settlement
Houston Chronicle Article - March, 1999

Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Moceanu and her father settled their legal fight Thursday by reaching a confidential financial settlement and dissolving a one-year protective order keeping the father away from the gymnast.

"This has been an extremely difficult time for my family and I hope that we can now begin to move forward in support of one another," Dominique, 17, said in a press release. "I know that deep down my father loves me, and of course I love him, so I need to find a way in my heart to give him forgiveness. I hope there is a chance that someday things in my family can be normal again."

Dominique's parents, Dumitru and Camelia Moceanu of Spring, could not be reached for comment. Their attorney Jimmy Phillips said, "I'm confident they'll be a family again."

Dominique's attorney, Ellen Yarrell, released a brief statement stressing that the gymnast feels safe despite the dissolution of the Dec. 9 ruling that ordered her father to stay at least 500 feet away from her.

"The parties entered into a settlement which includes a confidentiality agreement prohibiting discussion of the specific terms," the statement said. "However, it is important for Dominique's fans and supporters to know that she is confident that the settlement assures her personal safety and achievement of her financial goals."

Neither Phillips nor Yarrell would comment further, saying a press release would be issued within a few days.

The agreement was signed Thursday by presiding Family Law Judge Patricia Lykos. State District Judge John Montgomery -- who had issued the one-year protective order -- died Feb. 13 of pancreatic cancer. His order came after police revealed they were investigating Dumitru for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill two of his daughter's friends.

Dumitru Moceanu had been ordered by a judge to undergo a deposition March 10 concerning Dominique's finances, but the deposition was never held because of the pending agreement, Phillips said.

The family turmoil became public after Dominique sued her parents Oct. 19 to be declared a legal adult, saying her father had squandered the money she had earned in her 10-year professional career. She also said her parents had ruined her childhood by constantly emphasizing her career and sometimes hitting her at events.

The gymnast, who had run away from home Oct. 17, was declared a legal adult Oct. 29. She is currently training for the 2000 Olympics at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Moceanu parents, Romanian immigrants who were both members of that country's gymnastics team before defecting to the United States, have denied their daughter's allegations of misusing her money and destroying her childhood.

Dumitru Moceanu, 44, has said all of his daughter's earnings went into building a 70,000-square-foot gym at 6120 Louetta in 1996 with Dominique's blessings. Dumitru Moceanu has refused to say how much the gym cost, but his attorney Katherine Scardino said it was about $2 million.

Lawyers declined Thursday to discuss the fate of the gym, which was apparently closed in February. The Moceanu parents set up a trust fund for their daughter's earnings which they administer. Dominique did not have access to the trust until she turned 35.

Dominique sought a protective order against her father after police told her Nov. 13 they were investigating him for allegedly wanting to pay someone $10,000 to kill Dominique's friend Brian Huggins and her former coach Luminita Miscenco.
Huggins, 32, who helped with construction of the gym, and Miscenco, 26, had helped Dominique run away from home. The parents had accused the friends of "brainwashing" Dominique against them. Dumitru Moceanu denies any involvement is a plot to kill his daughter's coach or friend.

Dominique was born in Los Angeles in 1981 and moved to the Houston area in 1990 to train with famed gymnastics Bela Karolyi, also a Romanian immigrant. At 14, she was the youngest member of the 1996 U.S. gold medal-winning gymnastics team at the Atlanta Olympics. Copyright ©1999 Houston Chronicle

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