July 6, 2002 -- Did Angelina buy her baby?
SHE busted up the screen as video game vixen Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider," but Angelina Jolie might soon be better known as the "womb raider."
The star and her husband, Billy Bob Thornton, are at the center of a bizarre alleged baby-selling racket involving their adopted Cambodian son, Maddox, and a Hawaiian-born former hula dancer, Lauryn Galindo.
Dr. Kek Galabru, head of the Cambodian human rights agency Licadho, claims that baby Maddox was not adopted, but purchased.
Galindo, who acts as a go-between for American couples and Cambodian "orphans," charges an average of $9,000 per adoption (news reports have placed the fee paid by Thornton and Jolie as high as $230,000). But child welfare activists say impoverished mothers are often paid to hand over their infants - with Maddox going to Galindo for an estimated $100.
"I am certain that this child was not a real orphan and was not abandoned," Galabru told the Sydney Morning Herald. "There are a lot of desperate parents who are willing to sell their children, and some do it for as little as $50."
Maddox, nicknamed "Madness" by his doting parents, was adopted on March 11. "We visited an orphanage in Cambodia and met a little boy we felt a connection to and that we wanted to be our son," the Oscar-winning couple said in a statement at the time.
But they quickly ran into legal trouble. The U.S. government banned adoption of Cambodian children by Americans last December, in response to concerns over baby-selling rings. But Galindo, who delivered Maddox to Jolie while she was filming in Africa, organized a visa exemption for the child, who now lives with his new parents in Los Angeles. So far, 18 visa exemptions have been granted for U.S. couples, with hundreds more pending.
The attractive, raven-haired Galindo is a colorful figure in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where she still sometimes dresses up to give displays of hula dancing from her native Hawaii.
She admits that about half her fee is paid under the table to government officials - as "tips," not bribes. "It's fine because these guys can't live on their salaries," she told the Cambodia Daily. "I'm really happy to share the wealth."
Jolie said she hired private investigators to ensure her son really was an orphan. But Galabru's allegations are embarrassing for the actress, who has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Galabru claims to have a raft of evidence against Galindo, including testimony by a woman who says she was offered $700 by the hula hustler for three of her children.
Will Billy Bob come to her resuce?
Here is another one of the President