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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

May 20th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A Houston area three year old was taken into foster care by Child Protective Services despite there being no finding of abuse or neglect on the part of her parents.  Once in foster care, she was heavily dosed with the psychotropic medications Risperdal and Clonidine.  FDA regulations prohibit children under the age of 10 receiving Risperdal.  Read about it here (My Fox Houston, 5/16/12).

Christina Harrison, Rachel’s mother, was known to CPS almost from the time the child was born.  Christina tested positive for marijuana shortly after Rachel’s birth and, despite there being no sign of abuse and neglect of the child, she was taken into foster care.  That ended after a couple of months of CPS malfeasance.  In foster care, Rachel developed a serious case of diaper rash that two separate CPS caseworkers noticed, but did nothing about.  Eventually a judge ordered medical care for Rachel’s condition, but CPS ignored that too.  Eventually she was returned to her parents, David and Christina.

In 2010, Christina again tested positive for a controlled substance, cocaine, again Rachel was taken into foster care and again there was no allegation of abuse or neglect.  For the next year, CPS tried to terminate the parental rights of both David and Christina, even though David has never been charged with any wrongdoing.  But CPS’s effort to take a child from her parents ran aground when David and Christina were first allowed to see Rachel two months later.

The little girl had lost weight and appeared lethargic.  Worse, she drooled and stared, and, most tellingly, was playing a brand new game.  Three-year-old Rachel was playing at being a “doctor” by “writing prescriptions” that she would then hand to someone saying “go take your medicine.”

David and Christina asked CPS many times if Rachel had been prescribed medication and CPS always denied it.  It was only during a court hearing in which a caseworker admitted under oath that in fact Rachel had been prescribed Risperdal whose indicated usage is for schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, and Clonidine.  The former drug is prohibited for use by anyone under the age of 10.

Once CPS’s lies were uncovered, the agency backtracked on its efforts to terminate David and Christina’s parental rights and soon returned their daughter to them.

Still, the case raises questions that demand answers.  First, why was a three-year-old who exhibited no odd or exceptional behaviors placed on psychotropic medication in the first place, or indeed, any medication at all?  CPS isn’t saying, but David Harrison thinks he knows the answer.

“There’s paperwork saying she was screaming for mommy and daddy,” Rachel’s mother said.

“And the easiest way to handle her acting up was to medicate her,” said Rachel’s father.

That raises another question: who would prescribe such powerful medication to a little girl who was behaving normally?  The answer to that seems to be “CPS’s favorite ‘Dr. Feelgood.’”  In the nation’s fourth largest city, that person turns out to be a psychiatrist named Dr. Owen Osagie.  In addition to prescribing medication for a three year old that’s prohibited to anyone under the age of 10, Dr. Osagie also prescribed Clonidine in excess of the dosing guidelines.  For his trouble, Dr. Osagie has been ordered by the Texas Medical Board to attend 24 hours of continuing medical education and pay a $5,000 administrative fee.

Now for the kicker.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Osagie has treated 755 children in CPS foster care and continues to do so.

We all can guess what that means.  When CPS takes children from their parents, the kids become upset; when they become upset (as David Harrison said) the easiest thing to do is medicate them into submission; to do that, you need a doctor on call who won’t pay too close attention to niggling details like what the medication is actually supposed to be used for or how much to give; when CPS finds such an unscrupulous doctor, it sticks with him; it sticks with him even after he’s been disciplined by state medical regulators.  Hey, doctors like Osagie can be hard to find.

Surely the next legal step for David and Christina Harrison is to sue the pants off CPS and Dr. Owen Osagie.  I hope they do and I hope they win big.

In the meantime, we need to think about how often this may happen nationwide.  We know, for example, that in the case of Marianne Godboldo in Detroit, CPS demanded she give her daughter Risperdal (that drug again), and when she refused, took the girl into care.  My guess is that this is a pretty frequent occurrence.  After all, Osagie alone has “treated” 755 kids and I’d bet money most of them received psychotropic medication.  He’s certainly not the only doctor and Houston CPS is not the only child welfare agency to resort to drugging kids who, like their parents, object to being shanghaied into foster care.

Of course the irony of all this is lost on no one.  CPS took the child because Mom had cocaine in her system; a year later they got Rachel back stoned to the gills on some of the most powerful medication in existence.

“She was never abused or neglected in any way except by CPS,” said Debbie Flores, Rachel’s grandmother.

Finally I’ll leave it to David Harrison to say what so many have before and so many will again about CPS:

“You’re powerless against these people, they hold all the cards and do whatever they want,” said Rachel’s father.

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