Kelly Rutherford explains her attempt to keep children in the US: 'They got really panicky'

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Kelly Rutherford has defended her decision to try and keep her children Hermes and Helena in America earlier this month instead of sending them back to their father Daniel Giersch in Monaco. The Gossip Girl star, who was accused by her ex of kidnapping their children, said the youngsters were "panicky" when it came to the end of their stay with her.

"They were totally great the entire time. We were painting, horseback riding," Kelly explained to People of the children's five-week stay with her. "Then right when they knew they were going to go back, they got really panicky. My daughter was crying, my son started saying, 'Mommy, I'm afraid.'"

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Kelly Rutherford opened up about her ongoing custody battle

Kelly decided that instead of travelling back to Europe with them as planned, she would make another attempt to extend their stay as she believed she "may never see them again" once they were back in their father's custody. However the 46-year-old was ordered to return her children by a judge in Manhattan on 11 August – five days after she had originally agreed to send them back to Monaco.

"This whole time, what I've had to do is take an overall situation that's so bizarre and try to keep my kids healthy. I have to keep knowing if I'm okay, they're going to be okay. I don't want them to be fearful," Kelly said. "My children ask me all the time if I am still fighting for them… I always tell them the day will never come when I say no."

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Kelly said her children were "panicky" when they had to return to Monaco

Lawyer Robert Michaels said after the hearing that there have been no changes made to the original custody order which "entitles Mrs Rutherford free and consistent access to the children in Monaco and to have them come here and spend holidays and half the summer with their mother."

It was the latest twist in the bitter custody battle between Kelly and her ex-husband Daniel, who split in December 2008 when she was pregnant with Helena. A judge ruled in 2012 that it was in the children's "best interests" to live in Monaco with their father, who has been unable to enter the US since his visa was revoked that same year.