Tag Archives: Child Innocence

TX Cares About Children And Families

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
Some child abuse pediatricians have implicated parents who appear to have credible claims of innocence, an investigation by NBC News and the Houston Chronicle found.

Texas lawmakers want to protect families wrongly accused of Child Abuse

In response to an NBC News investigation, lawmakers want families to be allowed a second medical opinion before a child is taken from a home.

HOUSTON, TX  –  Texas lawmakers are calling for stronger safeguards in the state’s child welfare system after an NBC News and Houston Chronicle investigation found children had been taken from their parents based on disputed medical opinions from doctors trained to spot child abuse.

The reporting showed that child welfare workers removed some children from homes after receiving reports from state-funded child abuse pediatricians that were later called into question, leading to traumatic family separations and months-long legal fights.

Rep. James Frank, chairman of the Texas House of Representatives committee that oversees the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, said the investigation exposed serious problems.

“I’m very concerned with the premature, unnecessary removal of children, and I think it happens a lot more than people in Texas understand,” said Frank, a Republican from northern Texas.

Frank said he plans to call for a series of legislative hearings in the coming months to explore potential improvements.  Some legislators have suggested creating a way for courts, child welfare workers or accused families to request a second medical opinion before the state removes a child from a home.

Texas provides $5 million in grants each year — including $2.5 million from the agency that oversees Child Protective Services — to support the work of child abuse pediatricians, a small but growing subspecialty of doctors who examine children who come into hospitals with suspicious injuries.  The Texas grants deputize some of the doctors to review cases on behalf of child welfare investigators, who then rely on their reports when deciding whether to remove children from parents.

Frank acknowledged that these state-supported physicians have a difficult job and that they play a critical role in protecting abused children, likely saving lives.  But he said he’s heard from numerous parents in recent years whose children were removed by Child Protective Services based primarily on a report from a child abuse pediatrician and despite contradictory opinions from other doctors.

In those cases, Frank said he thinks child welfare workers are sometimes too deferential to agency-funded abuse doctors and fail to complete a thorough investigation before taking children.

“In most cases, the doctors aren’t saying ‘This is child abuse,’” Frank said.  “They’re saying that they are concerned that it’s child abuse.  And so I don’t know there are enough checks and balances to make sure that we have confirmed that it really is child abuse.”

Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., a Houston Democrat and lawyer who has represented a mother who says she was wrongly accused by a child abuse pediatrician, said he has begun discussions with Frank to figure out potential improvements.

“We haven’t come up with anything yet, but we’re working towards it,” he said.  “One of the things that needs to happen is we need to better define when CPS should remove children.  We’ve got to do a better job of that.”

In a statement, Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, said the agency relies on the expertise of child abuse pediatricians when its caseworkers and other medical specialists are unable to determine if a serious injury is a result of abuse.

“We believe this process has worked well to detect abuse in complex cases and has protected children,” Crimmins said.  “But any process — particularly one with the lives of children and their families at stake — can be improved, and we want to work with legislators and stakeholders to do just that.”

In interviews, leading child abuse pediatricians said they are careful to rule out underlying medical conditions and accidental causes before issuing their opinions. The doctors acknowledged that a mistaken child abuse diagnosis can result in a child being taken from caring parents.  But overlooking warning signs, they said, could lead to a child being left in a dangerous home, with potentially fatal consequences.

To state Rep. Gene Wu, the issues raised by the NBC News and Chronicle reporting were familiar.  Wu, a Houston Democrat and lawyer, sometimes handles cases involving Child Protective Services and allegations of abuse.

“I have personally dealt with a couple of cases … where you had day-to-day physicians who said, ‘This is a typical type of bone break that is common in children of this age because they’re learning to walk,’” Wu said.  “Then the case gets looked at by the child abuse expert and they say it might be child abuse, and then everyone sort of freaks out.”

In those instances, Wu said, “CPS is sort of caught in this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation.”

Child abuse pediatricians are trained not only to identify abuse, but to identify medical conditions that can mimic abuse.  The doctors say they rule out or fail to confirm abuse more times than not.

But Wu said when medical specialists are focused on finding and preventing child abuse, it’s natural that some run-of-the-mill injuries may appear more sinister.

“If you’re a hammer, then everything is a nail,” Wu said.

In many cases, the only doctor consulted by Child Protective Services and called to testify in court is the child abuse expert who initially flagged the concerns, in part because many families do not have the money to hire seasoned lawyers or outside medical experts.

To address that, Frank and other lawmakers have suggested requiring Child Protective Services to seek additional medical opinions in some instances before removing children.  Another fix, Wu said, might be to create a mechanism for courts across the state to bring in independent experts to evaluate medically complex cases and offer a second opinion.

“We could create a pot of money that courts could dip into,” he said.  “One party could make a motion to the judge to request an independent expert, and the state could have a list of medical experts to take a look at it.”

There are no “easy solutions,” he cautioned.

“I’ve described the CPS system as a very finely balanced seesaw,” Wu said, “and if you tip it too much you’re going to take kids away from good parents, and if you tip it the other way, you’re going to have dead kids. …  Whatever we do, we need to make sure that this policy solution doesn’t tip the balance.

Michigan Man Denied Bond In Death Of Toddler

.jpg photo of man accused of child abuse and murder of michigan toddler.
Damian A. Garrett, 23, of Augusta, Michigan.

Man charged with murder, Child Abuse in Midland toddler’s death

MIDLAND, MI  –  A Kalamazoo County man is charged with murder in connection with the death of a Midland toddler.

Damian A. Garrett, 23, of Augusta, on Friday, Sept. 20, appeared in Midland County District Court for arraignment on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse.  Both are life offenses, with the former mandating no possible parole if convicted.

The arraigning judge denied granting Garrett bond.

Police had arrested Garrett in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 19.  Two days prior, at about 3:05 p.m., police responded to an apartment in the 5200 block of Hedgewood Drive for a report of a child not breathing.  They arrived to find emergency medical responders in the process of rendering CPR to an unresponsive girl.

The 21-month-old girl, identified by Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks as Skylar N. Papple, was transported to Mid-Michigan Medical Center where staff pronounced her dead.

Garrett was in a dating relationship with the child’s mother, police have said.
Brooks said Skylar died due to drowning and also suffered some secondary head trauma.  Garrett had been home alone with Skylar, giving her a bath, Brooks said.

At some point, he ran to neighbors’ homes seeking help, then flagged down a UPS driver, who called 911, Brooks said.

Garrett is to appear for a preliminary examination at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15.

Aborting Two 13-Year-Olds Led To Misdemeanor Charges

.jpg photo of Doctor whose home was found containing over 2,000 aborted fetuses
Dr. Ulrich Klopfer

2,246 fetal remains found in Illinois home
of abortion doctor

After Dr. Ulrich Klopfer died in rural Crete, Illinois, on Sept. 3, authorities found “2,246 medically preserved fetal remains” in his home.

Klopfer performed thousands of abortions in northern Indiana clinics before his medical license was revoked in 2016.  But it’s unclear where the fetal remains came from, though the Will County, Illinois, Sheriff’s office said in a news release there was no evidence that Klopfer performed abortions on his Illinois property.

Public records show that Klopfer had not been licensed to practice medicine in Illinois since 1990, when he failed to renew his license.  Records do not show Klopfer holding any other state’s medical license after the Indiana suspension.

Authorities are not saying if they think Klopfer, 79, transported the remains from Indiana, how the fetal remains had been preserved or why the remains may have been in his possession in the first place.

Kathy Hoffmeyer, Will County, Ill., Sheriff’s spokeswoman, on Monday called this a sensitive investigation and declined to release details.

Indiana records allege the doctor, first licensed in 1979, had a history of bad record keeping in his clinics.

According to a complaint filed by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, Klopfer worked in clinics in South Bend, Gary and Fort Wayne from 2012 to 2015.

The board in 2016 found that Klopfer failed to properly file paperwork regarding abortions performed at the clinics, including some that were dated the same day as the procedure, a violation of Indiana’s 18-hour waiting period.

The licensing board found he performed abortions on two 13-year-olds without filing paperwork within three days as required by law.

The allegations regarding the 13-year-olds led to misdemeanor criminal charges in two counties, which Klopfer was facing at the same time he fought to keep his medical license, records show.

He was charged with failing to timely file a public report and admitted wrongdoing in St. Joseph County in 2014 and Lake County in 2015, according to the licensing board’s complaint.  Under terms of the pretrial diversion agreements, the misdemeanor charges were later dismissed.

None of the Indiana allegations against Klopfer were related to fetal remains.  How such remains ended up on Klopfer’s property are a mystery.

In the news release, the sheriff’s office said a lawyer for the Klopfer family first told officials about the discovery of the fetal remains.  IndyStar left a message on Monday for the attorney, identified by WMAQ-TV (Channel 5) Chicago as Kevin P. Bolger.

Klopfer’s family had no idea the fetal remains were inside the doctor’s rural home, Bolger told WMAQ on Saturday.

“No one has any answers,” Bolger told the station.  “The family is cooperating 100%.”

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill told IndyStar on Monday that the discovery of the fetal remains “shocks the conscience.”  Hill said his office will work with the office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on an investigation into the “grisly” findings.

Do You Supervise Your Children’s Phones?

.jpg photo of child predators arrested in arizona sting operation
These 25 men were arrested for arriving at a home to sexually abuse children in Arizona last month.

25 Reasons You Should Know What Your
Children Are Doing On Their Phones

These 25 men were arrested for arriving at a home to sexually abuse children in Arizona last month.  They responded to ads on various apps and websites by attempting to make a deal for different sex acts with children.  Luckily, undercover officers were the ones behind the ads, not traffickers selling real children.

Unfortunately, the type of sting operation used in Operation Summer Shield works well because of the shocking amount of real ads of real child victims who are being exploited sexually online.

In addition to traffickers selling children online, social media has become a wide open field for predators to find and extort vulnerable children.  Today’s youth need to know the dangers online.

“Predators no longer lurk in chat rooms,” Senator Marsha Blackburn said (link tweet), “ Predators use the apps our children use.”  These 25 men are the 25 reasons that you should know what your children are doing on their phones, because children are being targeted by online sexual predators.

“Traffickers look for the vulnerabilities and a child.  They look for what they are talking about online,” said Dr. Roe-Sepowtiz.  “And they find what it is that is missing, whether it’s attention, or love, or [physical] things.”

“I think it’s really important that if someone slides into their DM, that they know that that’s a predator, and to cut that person off,” she said.

These men all sought to have sex with children in other states around the U.S. in the last few months through Snapchat, Instagram, and other popular social media apps and websites

Two To Ten Years For Murdering A Born Alive?

.jpg photo of three women born after an abortion procedure
Three women born after an abortion procedure attended the TX House vote.

Texas House approves bill penalizing
doctors who fail to care for infants born
after abortions

I hope no one reading this is easily deceived, contrary to what Democratic Rep. Donna Howard (who has a background as a nurse) says here, far too many members of the medical community takes it upon themselves to pick and choose who will live and who will die, and quiet obviously the oath these people once took has faded into a Hypocrite’s Oath.
Robert StrongBow

AUSTIN, TX  –  After a tense moment, Texas House members gave preliminary approval to legislation imposing a six-figure fine and possible prison time on any physician who fails to care for an infant born alive after an abortion.

The bill, from Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, prevailed Tuesday evening after Austin Democratic Rep. Donna Howard stressed that there’s no record of post-abortion births in Texas and infanticide is already illegal.

Members divided mostly along party lines, by 93-1, to advance the “Born Alive” act, which also would impose prison time in cases of gross negligence.

But 12 Democrats, including Dallas Rep. John Turner and others mostly from Catholic-rich South Texas, joined all but two Republicans in voting for the measure. GOP Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston, filling in at the time for House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, was marked “PC,” presiding chair.  Bonnen didn’t vote, as is common practice by a speaker.

Houston Democrat Harold Dutton cast the “no” vote while 50 Democrats voted “present, not voting” at the urging of Howard, who criticized the “blatantly false, inflammatory and dangerous” proposal as a political box to be checked on legislative scorecards kept by influential GOP groups.  They included Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, who was earlier part of a brief March boycott of the Leach-led committee hearing on the proposal.

Turner said after the vote that he didn’t view the bill as being about reproductive rights.  It “addresses an extremely rare circumstance,” he said.  Turner said while running for office last fall that he would not vote for any legislation that would further restrict abortion access.

Texas is one of 26 states with laws requiring physicians to provide medical care and treatment to born-alive infants at any stage of development, according to Americans United for Life.  But Leach told colleagues his measure adds a vital enforcement element.

Leach said enforcement “teeth” still are needed.

“It’s a good strong law,” he said.  “But I don’t believe that it goes far enough.”
Leach said House members had an opportunity to unite across party lines “and as much as the issue of abortion has historically divided this country, this state and even this body at times, to me there should be no debate on this issue.”

Howard, the sole Democrat to engage with Leach before the vote, responded that Leach’s proposal didn’t merit debate.

She said the proposal is likely to further stigmatize women’s health decisions while imposing more trauma for families faced with the tragedy of a fetus with severe abnormalities.

“To debate this bill or to try to amend it would legitimize its false narrative,” Howard said.  “The misinformation perpetuated by this bill is dangerous and is the exact type of rhetoric that leads to threats against providers.  We refuse to waste the limited time that we have here to take care of the people’s business by entertaining malicious and purely political attacks against women and doctor.”

Noting her background as a nurse, Howard told the House: “I am insulted. I am insulted by the implication that I or any other nurse or doctor … would not do any and every thing in our power to provide care to any medically stressed human being.”  She added that no legislator, “not one,” supports infanticide.

Leach said he wouldn’t try to refute Howard’s individual critiques.

“This legislation is about protecting innocent life, a baby who is born alive,” he said before calling for the vote.

Passage likely

Passage of a “Born Alive” proposal into law — among three abortion-related priorities declared by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — seems likely under GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.  A Senate-approved version differs only in its penalties.

Nationally, anti-abortion advocates have noted mild momentum for such measures. Bills have gained ground but not yet passed into law this year in Missouri, Montana and North Carolina partly in reaction to events in New York and Virginia–states mentioned by Leach–and a stymied Republican move in Congress.

Well before Tuesday’s vote, nearly every one of the House’s 83 Republicans had signed on to Leach’s legislation.  Sitting out: Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland, the former House speaker, who said he rarely co-sponsors bills, and Davis, who has advocated for abortion rights.  Speaker Bonnen also wasn’t a co-sponsor though his brother, Friendswood Rep. Greg Bonnen, was among four joint authors.

Under the House plan, the state attorney general could sue a physician who fails to treat a live infant to recover a fine of at least $100,000.  Leach’s bill also permits a third-degree felony charge, potentially leading to imprisonment for two years to 10 years, if a doctor shows “gross negligence.”  The Senate-passed “Born Alive” measure calls for the same fine and a third-degree felony charge without requiring a determination of gross negligence.  Neither proposal would penalize patients.

No Texas infants born alive?

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, there were no reports of infants born alive in the state after abortion procedures from 2013 through 2016, the latest year of available figures.  Over the four years, more than 219,000 abortions were provided in the state, the agency says.

However, government-collected figures suggest that 25 babies were born alive during abortion procedures in 2017 in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

Established Texas laws

Lawmakers in 1979 revised state law to give a child born alive after an abortion or premature birth the rights of a child born after a normal gestation.  Later, the 1995 Legislature, under Gov. George W. Bush’s signature, gave rights to any person born alive.  As president, Bush in 2002 signed into law a measure similarly stating: “A living human child born alive after an abortion or premature birth is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this state to any other child born alive after the normal gestation period.”

Before the House action, Drucilla Tigner, a strategist for the Texas ACLU, told a House panel chaired by Leach that his “Born Alive” measure isn’t needed because state and federal laws already outlaw murder, protecting people regardless of age. Lawmakers passing the legislation, Tigner said in an email, “would at best be redundant and at worst it will distort public perception of safe, legal abortion care and unfairly target those who provide it in order to restrict access.”

Among objectors, Austin physician Karen Swenson, speaking on behalf of the Texas chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in written testimony that the idea “that physicians deliver, and then kill or neglect treating, a viable fetus is unfounded and dangerous misinformation.”

Leach and other committee members also heard testimony by three women who each said she was born after an abortion procedure — one of whom said she was born during the botched abortion.  Leach introduced one of them to House members.  Claire Culwell of Pflugerville was in the House gallery.

A national spark

In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed into law a proposal described by abortion rights advocates as aligning state law with what federal courts have permitted since the Supreme Court legalized a woman’s right to choose an abortion in 1973.  The revised law permits an abortion at any stage of pregnancy if there is an absence of fetal viability.  Previously, women in New York could only get abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if their lives were threatened, the fact-checking PolitiFact project reported.

In Virginia, legislators took testimony on a proposal to remove abortion-related restrictions, including a requirement that three physicians sign off on an abortion in the third trimester.  Elizabeth Nash of the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, said in an email that the Virginia bill would newly have enabled a single physician to determine an abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s life or if there’s a severe health condition.

Nash wrote: “The New York bill was really about changing their law to match up with U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  And the Virginia law was about getting care to patients in pretty serious situations a little faster since you wouldn’t have to track down two other physicians.  The political firestorm around these efforts is a far cry from the actual measures, and it’s really about manufacturing outrage over abortion generally,” Nash commented.

Meantime, conservatives in the U.S. Senate in February tried to pass legislation threatening prison for doctors failing to save infants born alive after abortion procedures.  Democrats blocked the measure, the Associated Press then reported.