February 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The case of Kaylene Bowen, Ryan Crawford and their son Christopher raises the issue of medical child abuse (Fort Worth Star Telegram, 12/8/17). Medical child abuse is rarely or never the wrongdoing of a single person. It is a systemic problem. Crawford, having seen his son undergo 323 doctor visits and 13 major surgeries in his first seven years of life and himself sidelined by a family court judge and child protective services when he tried to sound the alarm, gets that all too well.
“It’s horrible for my son, or any kid because obviously my son is not the only one that has had to go through this type of torture,” Crawford said. “The system has to be exposed — all the weaknesses that are in the system — because the kids don’t deserve that.”
As I reported yesterday, Family Court Judge Lori Hockett simply ignored Crawford’s attempt to show her medical records that contradicted Bowen’s claims that Christopher had variously, a rare genetic disorder, cancer, a heart attack, was comatose, etc. But Hockett wasn’t the only one to kick a protective father to the curb because he didn’t believe his son was gravely ill. Dallas Child Protective Services got in on the act too.
Crawford said he had notified Child Protective Services about his concerns with Bowen in late 2010 or early 2011, and again in 2012. He said he believed investigators looked into it but ultimately did nothing and closed the case.
But the CPS petition to remove Christopher and his half-siblings only mentions a previous 2015 CPS report made by doctors.
Marissa Gonzales, a CPS spokesman, said she could find no records of earlier investigations or reports, though acknowledged that some records may have since been expunged.
Excuse me? A father reports possible abuse of his son and CPS has no record of it because, in an ongoing case, the records “may since have been expunged?” Is that a habit of CPS? My guess is that it’s some form of criminal wrongdoing, but I can’t be sure. Whatever the case, destroying allegations of child abuse for a boy who’s still a child and therefore potentially the subject of a CPS investigation is beyond outrageous. It all but guarantees future negligence by the agency should additional claims of abuse be made.
Still, CPS eventually looked into the matter of Kaylene Bowen and her son.
In the November 2015 report, a care provider for the boy reported to CPS that they feared Bowen and the child’s stepfather at the time were medically neglecting Christopher.
The concerns included that Christopher would lose weight while at home, but gained it back at the hospital, and that the mother had reported a multitude of symptoms involving various organs, leading to tests and invasive procedures, yet nothing wrong was found.
The doctor also suggested the mother might be seeking medical care elsewhere to keep the boy in the “sick role.”
“There has been a long-standing concern for possible medical child abuse by many providers; however, as in the case, this type of abuse is insidious and hard to pinpoint,” a Dallas doctor wrote in a 2015 letter referenced in the CPS petition.
Stated another way, CPS did little or nothing when Crawford complained, but when a doctor did, caseworkers investigated and – lo and behold! – found evidence of serious child abuse by Bowen. Needless to say, if they’d done that earlier they’d have found much the same thing and Christopher would have been spared years of suffering.
But, as is so often the case with state child protective agencies, Dallas CPS isn’t done yet. It’s still treating Christopher’s father like a persona non grata.
More than three years later and even after Bowen’s arrest, Crawford is still fighting — this time trying to get Christopher out of foster care and home with him.
So, when Bowen was arrested, why wasn’t Christopher turned over to his father? Has anyone claimed Bowen is abusive or neglectful, unfit or incapable? No. He’s none of those things, but CPS still hasn’t allowed him to have custody of his son.
He said CPS has expressed reservations about moving the boy out of foster care because Christopher doesn’t know his father very well. Never mind, Crawford points out, that Christopher doesn’t know his foster family well either.
“That’s taxpayer money. Why spend all that extra money when he has a father that has been there from day one, that’s been fighting for this?” Crawford said.
His workplace has since started a Gofundme page to help raise money for Crawford’s ongoing legal battle.
Yes, CPS created a fait accompli. First it refused to investigate Crawford’s well-founded suspicions of abuse. Then, when they were proven true, instead of handing the child to him, caseworkers placed Christopher with strangers. Having done so, they now resist Crawford’s parental claims by saying the boy doesn’t know him well enough. Gee, I wonder how that happened.
And of course Crawford’s right about CPS’s use of our tax dollars. Texas taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay Crawford a cent for caring for his own son, but they do pay his foster family.
It takes a village, you know. To medically abuse a small boy took more than the abuse by his mother. It also took the blind participation of at least two judges and several CPS caseworkers and managers to ensure that one kid spent the first seven years of his life seeing little but doctors’ offices, hospitals and operating rooms. And it took all of them to deny him the one person in the world who had his best interests at heart – his father, Ryan Crawford.
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