by Health Impact News Staff
A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that the actions of a judge and Child Protective Services, in keeping a medically kidnapped child away from her family, are “an example of judicially-created parental alienation.”
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the termination of parental rights that had been decreed under Judge Lyris Younge of Philadelphia Family Court.
According to the ABA Journal, a child referred to as N.M. was taken from her parents after she was found to have two broken ribs. (Source.) The appellate decision is public record, with the parents and children identified only by their initials. (Source.)
The family’s story reads like dozens of others we have covered at Health Impact News. It shows a typical progression of events as well as common responses by Child Protective Services. The difference in this family’s case is that the lower court decision has been reviewed by an appellate court.
According to an article by The Legal Intelligencer, Judge Younge has a history of violating parental rights in her courtroom,
But because family court records and rulings are kept confidential on a non-public docket—unless appealed—they do not draw scrutiny. “There isn’t the natural control of public exposure,” the advocate said. (Source.)
The actions of Judge Younge, social workers, and Child Abuse Specialists are repeated in family and juvenile courtrooms across the country, but few reach public exposure. Most are shrouded in the secrecy that confidentiality rules and closed courtrooms afford.
The abuses of power in this case are things that we see at Health Impact News on a regular basis, unfortunately.
In this case, the baby was taken to the doctor after signs of “increased fussiness.” The pediatrician had the family take the baby to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where they ran a series of x-rays.
Note: CHOP is the hospital where Jessica Battiato’s children were taken, based on similar allegations by a Child Abuse Specialist:
When two fractured ribs were found, the Child Abuse Team, including Dr. Natalie Stavas, decided that the only explanation was abuse. The Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) was called on April 7, 2016, and the baby was seized from her parents. DHS refused to place the baby with her grandparents, and she was placed into foster care. The parents’ rights were terminated.
It is apparent from the appeals document that there are other medical possibilities for the baby’s injuries that were not considered. The family was not permitted to have other medical experts testify as to other possible diagnoses. Because the parents did not have an explanation, the foregone conclusion at CHOPS was “abuse.”
… while the results of N.M.’s blood tests and lab work did not uncover any specific genetic disorders to explain the fractures, testing showed that N.M. has a genetic variant that, while unlikely to contribute to her bone health, could not be definitively ruled out by Dr. Stavas as contributing to her fractures, noting that the mutation is “not in the literature.”
The possibility of infantile rickets does not appear to have been considered at all. Dr. David Ayoub, a radiologist and expert on infantile rickets, has stated that the fractures in young babies are often misdiagnosed as abuse.
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Appeals court criticizes ‘judicially created parental alienation’ in case of baby with broken ribs
A state appeals court has accused a Pennsylvania judge of “judicially created parental alienation” and a failure to provide due process when she kept a baby in “protracted foster care” after receiving no explanation for broken ribs and then terminated parental rights.
The judge, Lyris Younge of Philadelphia Family Court, abused her discretion when she refused to place the child known as N.M. in the care of a grandmother, according to the May 4 decision by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Younge also refused to allow the child’s mother to be represented by two lawyers at once, and refused to allow introduction of expert medical reports that attempted to explain N.M.’s broken ribs, the court said.
Younge’s refusal to allow the grandmother’s care or to reunify N.M. with her parents “provided the evidentiary platform” to support social workers’ petition to terminate parental rights, the appeals court said. “In essence, this is an example of judicially-created parental alienation.”
“In short, despite the goals of the Child Protective Services Law, the trial judge seems to have done everything in her power to alienate these parents from their child, appears to have a fixed idea about this matter and, further, she prohibited evidence to be introduced that might have forced her to change her opinion,” the appeals court said.
The court reversed Younge’s refusal to place the child with the grandmother, vacated the judge’s decision to terminate parental rights and strongly suggested that, if a petition for recusal is filed, Younge “give serious consideration as to whether her apparent bias warrants that she recuse herself.”
…When Younge refused to move N.M. to the care of her grandmother, the judge said that no one had yet confessed to the abuse and there needed to be some closure about how the injury happened. “Either someone has to cop to it or there has to be a plausible explanation” for the injuries, Younge said.
“If I leave her [in foster care] maybe I get closer to an answer as to what happened instead of moving her to grandmom. … So, I’m not going to consider kinship care.”
The appeals court noted the comments in a footnote at the end of the opinion. “While this court must take and does take the issue of abuse of a child very seriously,” the footnote said, “the fact that a trial judge tells parents that unless one of them ‘cops to an admission of what happened to the child’ they are going to lose their child, flies in the face of not only the CPSL, but of the entire body of case law with regard to best interests of the child and family reunification.
“We find that the record herein provides example after example of overreaching, failing to be fair and impartial, evidence of a fixed presumptive idea of what took place, and a failure to provide due process to the two parents involved.”
Read the full article at ABA Journal.
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