Tag Archives: Child Abuse

How Can This Be Simple Child Abuse

.jpg photo of mother charged with child abuse
Kaylene Bowenwright, 34, was charged with child abuse.

Texas mother charged with Child Abuse
after son had 323 doctor visits and
13 major surgeries

Dallas County, TX  –  A community in northeast Dallas is reeling over a 34-year-old mother charged with child abuse after spending the past eight years taking her son to 323 doctor visits and putting him through 13 major surgeries.

Kaylene Bowenwright, of Lake Highlands, was arraigned in Dallas County Dec. 6 on a warrant accusing her of injury to a child with serious bodily injury with bail set at $150,000, according to court documents.  Bowenwright was also ordered not to communicate with her son Christopher, 8, and have no contact with other minors.

“Throughout his young life, Christopher has been placed full time on oxygen and, at times, used a wheelchair.  He’s endured invasive procedures and surgeries, including being fitted with a feeding tube that fed directly into his small intestine and led to multiple life-threatening blood infections,” the Star-Telegram reported.

Dr. Suzanne Roper-Dakil of Children’s Medical Center Dallas suspected that Bowenwright may have been trying to make Christopher sick, according to an affidavit included in a Child Protective Services petition for Christopher’s removal from his mother obtained by the Star-Telegram.  This suspicion was raised after Bowenwright recently took Christopher to the center because of a supposed seizure.

“I am very concerned that mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” Roper-Dakil wrote in the affidavit.  “If mother has given Chris something to induce a seizure, this is potentially fatal.  At this point, I am very concerned for his welfare.”

A request for comment has been placed with Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

Christopher’s father Ryan Crawford tried convincing a Dallas County family court judge that his son was not as sick as his mother claimed and she was just fishing for attention.  Crawford believes Bowenwright may exhibit Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which a person creates or induces symptoms in others to gain attention.

Bowenwright’s claims regarding her son’s poor health even inspired the Dallas community to start a YouCaring campaign two years ago for Christopher that has raised more than $8,000.

“Christopher is battling a severe case of Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in his lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and brain. Diagnosed at the age of two, the congenital condition is slowly taking the wind out of the sails of this bright and active boy.  His sparkling eyes and ready smile belie the fact that his arteries and veins are no longer working as they should to deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout his body,” the YouCaring campaign states.

A GoFundMe campaign called “Christopher’s Beach Bash” was launched in Aug. 2016.  It raised $610 before being shut down.  The campaign appears to have been started by a family friend, according to a preserved version of it on Google.

“Never in your life do u want to hear the dreadful ‘C’ word about anyone but hearing it when it comes to a 7-year-old that you love like your own is what I’m facing right now.  One of my very dear friends, Kaylene, has a son who has been diagnosed with cancer.  Christopher has been given 6 months to love by the doctors but I know the God that I serve and he is more powerful than the words of doctors or attacks from satan,” Lori Hawkins-Sims wrote in the campaign description on GoFundMe.

Doctors determined that Christopher does not have cancer or many of the symptoms that Bowenwright claims and which inspired the YouCaring and GoFundMe campaigns, the Star-Telegram added.

A request for comment has been placed with Bowenwright’s public defender.

AZ Official Charged With Child Abuse In MN

.jpg photo of old Gila County Courthouse
Old Gila County Courthouse

Gila County official charged in MN with Child Abuse shortly after he was rehired

A manager for Gila County’s health and emergency services agency is scheduled to stand trial early next year in Minnesota on charges of abusing his two children, according to court documents.

Joshua Beck, 40, is charged with two counts of assault and two counts of endangering a child, according to court records in Cook County, Minnesota.  His trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 29.

Beck was the Cook County Health and Humans Services director in Minnesota before he resigned on July 21.  His charges were filed in Minnesota about a week later.

Before moving to Minnesota, Beck had worked as manager of Gila County’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness, a program within the department, in Globe.

Gila County hired him back after he left Minnesota, for the same position, a role that helps oversee the county’s 53,000 residents’ safety in event of a public health emergency.

Gila County Manager James Menlove said he was aware of Beck’s pending criminal court case.  He said Beck had applied for the job and was hired before the charges were filed.

“Gila County takes the charges against Beck very seriously, but as is the case with anyone in the criminal justice system who has yet to be convicted, Beck is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” according to an emailed statement.  “Gila County remains steadfastly committed to the safety of its employees and the residents it serves.”

Beck was rehired on July 18, before the charges were filed on Aug. 1 in Cook County, the statement says.  He had two previous stints with the county from November 2012 to May 2013 and again from March 2014 to September 2016.

His current annual salary in Gila County is $62,042.

‘We believe this is a witch hunt’

Through his lawyers, Beck denied the allegations.  He said the false claims of abuse are at the center of a custody dispute involving his stepson and stepdaughter and other family members.

“He adamantly disputes the allegations and is taking the steps to defend himself in court,” said Tyson Smith, a lawyer for Beck, in a phone interview.

Christa Jacqueline Groshek, another Minnesota lawyer for Beck, said in a phone interview Beck is innocent and the children’s grandmother has been seeking custody.

Groshek said Beck has three biological children with his wife and none of them have alleged they’ve been abused.  She added that Beck has worked in public health policy for a long time and he cares for families and children “so he wouldn’t hurt children.”

“We feel like he’s been wrongfully accused,” she said.  “We believe this is a witch hunt that started with the maternal grandmother.”

Groshek made these arguments on Monday to a judge in Cook County at a hearing seeking to dismiss the prosecutor’s evidence. She said she expects the judge to make a decision whether to dismiss the charges or not in the next couple of weeks.

Allegations of abuse

According to a probable-cause statement, the 10-year-old girl told a staff member at First Witness, a child well-being advocacy organization in Minnesota, Beck had abused her since before moving from Arizona.

“She indicated that the defendant calls her names, pulls her hair, throws objects at her, forcibly wakes her up, and takes away her cochlear implants so she cannot hear,” the complaint said.

In one instance, the girl told the staff member Beck grabbed her neck and choked her until she couldn’t breathe, the court document says.  The girl said the choking gave her a bruise and affected her sense of smell, the document says.

In another instance, she said Beck pulled her hair, slapped and threw toys at her face, the document says.

Both children also told the staff member, according to the court document, that while they lived in Arizona, Beck threw them both to the ground.  The boy’s head hit some rocks and his head began to bleed and one of the girl’s ankles was injured, the document says.
The children said they didn’t receive medical attention for their injuries and the girl couldn’t walk on the ankle for a few days, the probable cause statement says.

The boy also said Beck “likes to cause him pain,” the court document states.

Both children said Beck encourages the three younger children to mistreat them, too, by hurting them physically or calling them derogatory names, according to the court document.

Mother Of Sherin Mathews In Same Building As Wesley

.jpg photo of mother of Child found dead
Sini Ann Mathews was arrested on a charge of child endangerment.

Sini Mathews Arrested On
Child Endangerment Charge

Dallas, TX  –  The mother of a North Texas toddler whose body was recovered last month from a drainage culvert weeks after she was reported missing was arrested Thursday on a charge of child endangerment.

Police said she and her husband left their 3-year-old adopted child, Sherin Mathews, home alone while they went to dinner just hours before they claimed she had disappeared.

Sini Ann Mathews, who has maintained her innocence in the death of Sherin, surrendered to Richardson police Thursday and is being held on $250,000 bond on the state jail felony charge.

She was arraigned Friday morning and did not respond to reporters questions when she was transferred to the Dallas County Jail Friday afternoon.

In a statement Thursday, Richardson police said detectives learned Sini Mathews, 35, and Wesley Mathews took their 3-year-old biological daughter to dinner and left Sherin alone at home, placing her in “imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”

“The time that they left, she was not under the care of any other adult or of any other person, she was left home alone by herself and it’s for that reason that you see this particular charge,” said Kevin Perlich, with the Richardson Police Department.  “It’s not necessarily related to her death, it’s related to her care that she was being given while she was in that home.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, detectives used cell phone records to show Wesley and Sini went to a North Garland restaurant on the evening of Oct. 6.  The theory is supported by a receipt obtained by police that showed the couple purchased only one child’s meal in addition to their individual meals as well as the testimony of a waiter who said only one child was present at the table.

During an interview with detectives, Wesley Mathews, 37, admitted to leaving Sherin home alone after growing frustrated she wouldn’t drink her milk and said they returned home about 90 minutes later and found her where they left her, in the kitchen.

Both Sini and Wesley told police the child was alive when they returned home from dinner, though police have not confirmed that information.

Hours later, on the morning of Oct. 7, Wesley Mathews called police and reported Sherin missing.  In a story he would later change, Wesley originally told police Sherin disappeared overnight after he ordered her to stand outside at about 3 a.m. for not drinking her milk.  When he returned, Wesley said she had disappeared and that her location was unknown.

Weeks later, Wesley Mathews changed his story and said he “physically assisted” her in drinking her milk and that she choked and died at the home.  He said he then moved the girl’s body and later called police to report her missing.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to determine what killed Sherin Mathews.

Sini Mathews said she was sleeping when Sherin disappeared and was unaware of what took place overnight between the child and her father.

Meanwhile, Wesley Mathews remains jailed on a charge of felony injury to a child and is being held on a $1 million bond.

Sini Mathews’ attorney has maintained throughout the investigation she had nothing to do with her daughter’s death and that she was distraught during her daughter’s disappearance.

NBC 5 confirmed Friday that at some point in the last month Sini Mathews was terminated from her job at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where she worked as a case manager.

On Thursday, her attorney Mitchell Nolte thanked Richardson police for allowing his client to surrender.

“We learned this morning that the Richardson Police Department had obtained an arrest warrant for Sini Mathews for the offense of Abandoning/Endangering a Child.  The police were professional and courteous and allowed us to bring Mrs. Mathews to the Police Department and surrender herself into custody,” Nolte said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Wesley Mathews’ attorney, David Kleckner, said his client loves his children and wife and that he’s a good family man who wants custody of their surviving daughter to be returned to her mother.

Sini Mathews was in court as recently as Monday asking for custody of the couple’s child to be returned to her, but that hearing was rescheduled 1 p.m. Nov. 29.

The couple’s surviving child has been in foster care since shortly after her sister’s disappearance.  The child was expected to be placed in the care of family in the Houston area following Monday’s hearing.

Alarming Study Of Baby Foods And Formulas

.jpg photo of Baby in high chair
A new study by the Clean Label Project suggests most baby food contains dangerous contaminates.

These baby foods and formulas tested
positive for Arsenic, Lead and BPA
in new study

An alarming study released Wednesday found many baby food products test positive for arsenic, including 80% of infant formulas. And, that’s not the only dangerous contaminate found.

Best five products compared to the worst five tested:

  • 170% more ARSENIC than the best.
  • 35% more CADMIUM than the best.
  • 30% more LEAD than the best.
  • 20% more ACRYLAMIDE than the best.

The Clean Label Project, a nonprofit advocating for transparent labeling, tested baby food, infant formulas, toddler drinks and snacks purchased within the past 5 months.  The group, which did not publish findings in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at top-selling formulas and baby food using Nielsen data, and also included emerging national brands.  After about 530 baby food products were tested, researchers found 65% of products tested positive for arsenic, 36% for lead, 58% for cadmium and 10% for acrylamide.  All of these chemicals pose potential dangers to developing infants.

  • Certified “ORGANIC” baby food products Tested have OVER 2X the ARSENIC compared to conventional baby foods Tested.
  • Nearly 80% of infant formula samples Tested POSITIVE for ARSENIC.
  • 60% of products claiming to be “BPA FREE” Tested POSITIVE for BPA.

Jennifer Lowry, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., who is not affiliated with the research, said these chemicals can affect fine motor skills and cognition.

Mainstream brands including Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics and Sprout were among the worst offenders — scoring two out of five in the Clean Label Project’s report card for toxic metals.  Plus, 60% of products claiming to be “BPA free” tested positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A.  The quantities of contaminates range, but some products tested positive for up to 600 parts of arsenic per billion.  That’s far more than just trace amounts.

Environmental group warns of lead in baby food

Arsenic was the most common contaminate spotted in the Clean Label Project study.  Nearly 80% of infant formula samples tested positive for arsenic.  The toxin is associated with developmental defects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes and even cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of Clean Label Project and a food safety scientist, said rice-based baby food such as snack puffs had some of the highest levels of arsenic.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn’t enforcing that limit.  Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.

“It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food,” Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson.

Lead, also found in food tested by the Clean Label Project, has been found in baby food before.  Just a few months ago, the Environmental Defense Fund found 20% of 2,164 baby food samples tested contained lead.  No amount of lead is safe, but it’s not regulated.

Low levels of lead in children’s blood have been connected to lower IQs, slowed growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and anemia, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clean Label Project posted a list of products it tested, along with a star-rating grade informed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, on its website.  Bowen said she hopes the data helps parents become better advocates for their children’s health, and creates change in the baby food business.

“The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,” Bowen said.

Cameron County TX DA’s Office Making A Difference

.jpg photo of Cameron County Assistant DA and Child Abuse Investigator
Cameron County TX DA’s Office Cares About All Children

Cameron County Child Abuse Unit works to aid those in need

Cameron County, TX  –  Often, the person who sexually abuses a child is someone the child knows or trusts.

When Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Rodriguez first started working for the Child Abuse Unit, he was surprised to find that many times, the sexual abuse is happening quietly.

“I always felt that sexual assaults were something loud and vicious, but a lot of what we see is a silent horror,” Rodriguez said.  “It’s quietly an uncle (or another family member) molesting a child.”

Right now, the CameronCountyDA’s Office is working on 50 cases pertaining to child abuse, but more are always coming in.

Not every incident that is reported makes it to court or even the Child Abuse Unit’s desk.  Investigators may determine that there is not sufficient evidence for a case, or if the case does reach the unit, witnesses may drop the charges or change what they say, said Brandy Bailey, supervisor of the child abuse unit.

“We’ve had quite a few cases where the mothers or grandmothers will say that it didn’t happen.  That’s why it’s so important we all have that relationship with the therapists and professionals,” Bailey said.

Law enforcement helps, too, with the amount of evidence and statements it is able to provide for a case, Rodriguez said.

Gabriela Cruz, the Child Abuse Unit’s paralegal, helps keep the unit running, too, said Yvette Vela, public information officer for the DA’s Office.