Angelina Jolie has been no stranger to scandal over the years, but the latest storm that’s brewing could be one of the most serious yet — if it proves to have any merit at all, that is. Mounh Sarath, an aid worker in Cambodia, is claiming that he listed himself as the father of Maddox Jolie-Pitt on the boy’s adoption papers to help speed up the process for the actress in 2003. “She had to change his name, so the only way was for me to do it. I said he’s my son,” he explained. Allegedly, Jolie was supposed to fix that detail later, but according to Sarath, she never did. Based on this, the 51-year-old is arguing that he actually still has power of attorney over the 15-year-old boy.
On Sunday, Sarath produced the document he’d filed with a court in Battambang, Cambodia, in August 2003, which seemed to confirm the court considered him the father, according to the Sun; however, his documentation does not seem to prove that either Jolie or her then-husband, Billy Bob Thornton (who originally adopted Maddox too), knew Sarath had done this. Neither has commented on the allegations.
Around the time that Jolie took Maddox into her care, the United States was tightening restrictions on Cambodian adoptions because of fears of trafficking. Further muddying the waters is the fact that Lauryn Galindo, the agent who arranged the adoption, served 18 months in jail in the U.S. for falsifying names, birth dates, and places of birth of Cambodian children she placed with U.S. parents.
Jolie has previously insisted that she went to “great lengths” to ensure Maddox did not have a living birth mother in Cambodia. “I would never rob a mother of her child. I can only imagine how dreadful that would feel,” the actress, who has six children in total (including two other international adoptees), stated. In addition, she has said that she would never break the law to adopt a child. “Personally, I prefer to stay on the right side of the law. I would never take a child away from a place where adoption is illegal,” she said, possibly taking aim at fellow celeb mom Madonna for adopting a child from Malawi. “It’s a country where there is no real legal framework for adoption,” Jolie explained.
It has been a rocky few months for the 41-year-old star, who split from Brad Pitt in September after two years of marriage and almost a decade together, amid allegations of child abuse against Pitt. She earned Cambodian citizenship herself in 2005, but not everyone is happy about that. “I would be happy if Cambodia didn’t see her again,” Sarath said.