Mother who adopted girl with alleged, rare disorder faces child assault charges

A Washington mother who adopted an orphan girl from Africa is now facing assault charges after reports that the girl had been undergoing unnecessary medical procedures and visit according to KING 5. Sophie Hartman told KING 5 in 2019 that her child had alternating hemiplegia of childhood, or AHC, which is a rare neurological disorder.

A document from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says the mother was “subjecting her 6-year-old child to medically unnecessary surgical interventions and restraints.”
Hartman has been charged with one count of second-degree assault against a child and one count of attempted domestic violence assault against a child in the second degree according to news station. Court records filed May 24, claim the girl had more than 474 medical appointments since 2016.
In July 2017 the girl had a surgical procedure to put in a gastrostomy tube to her digestive system, which provides nutrients if the patient cannot eat, according to the records. The girl went through a procedure that fed nutrients directly into a vein, the charging record said. The girl had a surgical placement that stops the early onset of puberty, a procedure that requires anesthesia.
However, earlier this year the unidentified girl underwent a 16-day observation at Seattle Children’s hospital, where results showed the girl was able to drink fluids on her own without a feeding tube, use the bathroom voluntarily without a tube to flush out her intestines and run and walk without the need of a leg brace or a wheelchair according to KING 5.
“This is not based on one investigator,” King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney said. “It’s not based off of a quick investigation. This was months of investigation by police and several experts who weighed in.”
The allegations claim Hartman are based on a report by the Safe Child and Adolescent Network, or SCAN, at Seattle Children’s. Along with an investigation by the Renton Police Department. The allegations questioned the girl’s AHC diagnosis.
Adam Shapiro, Hartman’s attorney, however, says the allegations against his client aren’t true.
“The doctor from Seattle Children’s hospital who’s largely behind the charges for this case is not an expert on this disease,” Shapiro said. “She probably has little to no experience in this disease.”
Shapiro says a doctor from Duke University had been evaluating the girl for years.
“Contrary to the allegations of the King County Prosecuting Attorney, the child’s diagnosis was made by more than one doctor, is legitimate, and is based on a substantial record beyond the reports and information provided by Ms. Hartman. That record includes independent medical examinations by multiple doctors, direct observation of the child by doctors and nurses at Duke and at Seattle Children’s Hospital, standardized testing results, video tapes of the child’s symptoms, MRI, EEG and other diagnostic tests. The King County Prosecuting Attorney has the medical records from Duke as well as records from Seattle Children’s Hospital amply supporting the diagnosis and the consistent reports of Ms. Hartman,” a statement from Shapiro reads, in part.
Shapiro has consulted with an independent medical child abuse expert, Dr. Eli Newberger.
“From my review, there is no history, psychological, physical examination, or neurological evidence that contradicts the diagnosis of AHC, much less justifies a diagnosis of “medical child abuse,” Newberger stated in a letter.

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