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Father falsely accused of child abuse

Maryland parents may have read about a father in Texas who was in danger of losing his parental rights to his baby girl because he was believed to be a child abuser. Several doctors saw X-rays that revealed multiple fractures and ruled the fractures as not being caused by an accidental injury, casting suspicion onto the father. As a result, he was unable to exercise even his visitation rights without court-appointed supervision.

Despite the mother, nanny and pediatrician saying that they have never seen evidence of abuse, the courts charged the father with the felony of second degree bodily injury to a child. The parents spent months trying to clear his name and visited specialists across the United States in search of the true cause. It was not until another couple heard about the situation and contacted the parents with their own similar story that everything changed.

The second couple also lost custody of their children until a geneticist diagnosed them with a bone disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This inherited disease makes the underlying structure of the body fragile, so just holding a baby can cause fractures. Many doctors are unaware of it, but it is actually quite common and varies in severity. Since finding out about the disorder, the mother and baby girl in Texas have been diagnosed with it. All of the charges against the father have since been dismissed and he has moved back in with his family.

Studies have shown that it is in the best interests of the child to stay in contact with his or her parents during a period of family turmoil. A court will usually take this principle into account in making custody and visitation determinations during divorce proceedings.

Source: WFAA, "Rare bone disease leads to bogus child abuse allegations", Janet St. James, November 15, 2013

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