4 Nov 2010

Orthodox mom indicted in Jerusalem for deliberately starving and harming infant son

The Jerusalem Post - August 4, 2009

'Child-starving' mom indicted in J'lem


The state on Tuesday charged the mother who allegedly starved and caused deliberate injury to her son with several counts of abusing a minor under her care. The defendant, identified as Y., is liable to get up to nine years in jail if convicted.

Meanwhile, a court discussion on the terms whereby the woman will be allowed to remain out of jail during the trial is due to resume on Wednesday. She spent 10 days in custody after her arrest, was released from jail on July 17 and was placed under house arrest at the home of Rabbi Avraham Froelich.

A week later, she was allowed to return to her own home and be with her other four children, but is still prohibited from seeing her son, C., whom she allegedly abused.

According to the charge sheet presented to Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday, C., who is now three years and seven months old, was hospitalized seven times between July 2007 and June 2009. Each time, his mother complained that he suffered from constant fever and vomiting. In later hospitalizations, Y. also complained that C. was not gaining weight, suffered from an infection on the surface of his stomach and skin lesions.

During these hospitalizations, the doctors conducted many tests on the child, some of them intrusive and even life-threatening. Among other things, the doctors took a bone marrow sample under sedation, a head scan, many blood tests, a brain MRI under total anesthesia, a stomach biopsy, a second brain MRI and bone mapping under total anesthesia, and an operation to allow doctors to feed the child directly through the stomach to the stomach cavity.

In summing up the first six hospitalizations, prosecutors Maayan Oren-Rimon and Tal Wisman-Ben-Shahar wrote, "On many occasions, the dates of which are unknown to the prosecution, the suspect gave the medical team false information about the results of readings of C.'s temperature, saying it was higher than it really was. She also insisted on measuring C's temperature through the rectum very frequently and unnecessarily, in such a way as to cause him pain and suffering and contrary to the instructions of the medical team."

The mother also allegedly disconnected the tube that carried fluids through his veins, as well as the tube that brought food directly to his stomach. On several occasions she withheld food from her son despite his pleadings.

C.'s final hospitalization began on February 12. During the next few months, his mother tampered with the tubes delivering food, fluids and medicine to her son, preventing him from eating and drinking and causing constant infections that had to be treated with antibiotics. He also underwent "harmful, painful and life-threatening examinations," including another MRI under total anesthesia.

When none of the treatments appeared to work, the doctors began considering a bone marrow transplant. Before doing one, however, on June 22, the medical team decided to feed C. at night, when his mother was at home. During the following week, they gave him increasingly large food infusions. C. digested them without vomiting or stomach pains and without leaving residues in his stomach.

On June 29, the medical team started taking C.'s temperature, which turned out to be normal on all but one occasion. Five days later, the Jerusalem Juvenile Court issued an emergency order prohibiting Y. from seeing her son. The police arrested her on July 8.

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