A Wichita pediatrician who diagnosed a then 14-year-old girl as a victim of child torture told social workers the girl’s adoptive parents were a physical danger to her and other children in their home and no amount of therapy would change that.
The doctor recommended terminating the adoptive parents’ rights.
The doctor, who specializes in child abuse and neglect, said that “based on the severity and extent of the torture and abuse that (the girl) endured, it would be an extreme risk to her physical and mental health to have any contact with parents,” an amended child-in-need-of-care petition seeking the termination of the parents’ rights says. The doctor recommended that the three other children also not have contact with the parents “because they have suffered and witnessed horrific physical and mental abuse . (The doctor) stated parents are a physical danger to the children, and the situation will not become safe with any amount of therapy or services. She supports the termination of parental rights.”
The doctor examined the girl after she and three other children were removed from their home March 28 due to allegations of child abuse and neglect. The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office recently learned there were at least 18 prior reports of abuse or neglect involving the girl, who is now 15.
The Eagle has been writing about the girl since June as part of its “In Need of Care” series examining child abuse and neglect in the Wichita area. The Eagle is not naming any children in the series. It also is not naming any parents because doing so could identify the children.
On Wednesday, prosecutors, acting on questions raised by The Eagle after the newspaper received a tip, requested a court hearing to find out just how many times people contacted the Kansas Department for Children and Families to try to get help for the girl.
The amended petition, reviewed Thursday by The Eagle, said the girl suffered from torture, neglect and physical abuse and had several medical conditions related to her alleged abuse and neglect. The family was to have been her refuge after her biological mother neglected her. The family fostered the girl and later adopted her, court records show.
“It was reported that (the girl) had extensive unmet needs in multiple spheres of her life, including emotional neglect, educational neglect, medical neglect, neglect of safety and neglect of most basic needs. Due to (the girl’s) extensive unmet needs, (the doctor) diagnosed her with child neglect. (The girl) will suffer long-term medical problems as a result of this neglect,” the amended petition says.
The doctor recommended that the girl needed close follow-up, intense mental health counseling, a psychological evaluation, urgent dental care, continued follow-up with vision specialists, a hearing evaluation, an age-appropriate high calorie diet and x-rays of her hips.
The girl’s parents are accused of keeping her in a windowless, locked basement room, where she allegedly was forced to use a bucket to go to the bathroom. Prosecutors have accused them of beating the girl — who weighed 66 pounds when police removed her from her home — with a foam hard-core bat and a broken curtain rod “whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death” could have been inflicted.
The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges with the exception of criminal damage to property.
A therapist reported that the father thought the children were “wrongly taken,” the amended petition says. The licensed psychologist who met with the mother reported she did not understand why the children had been removed and said “(the girl) tried to get everyone to feel sorry for her and enjoyed attention.”
The psychologist diagnosed the mother with adjustment disorder and anxiety and said it was unlikely she “would benefit from individual therapy due to a lack of insight and patterns of concrete thinking.”
The parents have denied the allegations in the child-in-need-of-care and criminal cases. Their preliminary hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for next week. Their trial in the child-in-need-of-care case is scheduled for next month.
The girl told a social worker that she did not want to go back home “because she is terrified of parents” and had been having nightmares at night “about mother breaking into the home to kill her.”