Three court decisions this winter continue a recent surge of good news for families fighting misguided abuse accusations.
In Michigan, a judge offered an apology while dismissing charges against Allie and Jimmy Parker, separated for eight months from their two young children after they were accused of abusing their 6-week-old son. Dr. Douglas Smith, who uncovered the medical reasons for the findings that led to the diagnosis, has posted an excellent review of the case on the Torn Family web site, a resource for parents wrongly accused.
For the news treatment, see the WXYZ coverage. Reporter Heather Catallo also produced a broader piece about the over diagnosis of abuse,”Child Abuse Pediatricians: Are parents being wrongly accused?“, featuring Dr. Smith and law professor Keith Findley, founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Both articles invite readers to contact the reporter.
In Maine in late December, a judge granted a pardon to Brandon Ross, a father who had accepted a plea bargain in order to reunite his family when the state refused to accept an Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis—even after his son suffered another fracture in foster care. The WMTW8 coverage features the text version of the story and two touching video treatments.
And in South Carolina, a family court judge reunited a toddler with his parents and derailed a fast-track adoption last week, after accepting a defense doctor’s diagnosis that the boy’s fractures were due to a vitamin D deficiency. Parents Joshua Coker and Ashley Joyner still face criminal charges, but they are with their son again.
After the decision, the family’s attorney, Ryan Schwartz, posted a joyous Facebook entry in which he wrote:
Today was the highlight of my legal career. On May 8, 2017 my client’s child was taken away by DSS after they rushed their infant child to the hospital after they discovered a swollen leg. They had their child taken away after it was discovered he had 16 fractures but never any bruises or ANY evidence of child abuse. They not only had their child taken from them for two years (only seeing him 2 hours a month at the DSS building and supervised) they missed his first words and steps and they were humiliated in the news when they were arrested and charged with child abuse. It took a lot of work, late nights and a ton of research and help from great friends but today we were able to wrap up a three day trial where the Department of Social Services attempted to terminate their parental rights forever and adopt out their child. At the end of trial DSS was ordered to return the child immediately and pay for their counseling for the next year…
Don’t believe everything you read.
Maybe the tide is turning.
copyright 2019, Sue Luttner
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