A mother of an orphan girl from Africa is currently facing assault charges after reports that the girl had been undergoing unnecessary medical procedures as well as visits.
Sophie Hartman stated back in 2019 how her child had (or has) alternating hemiplegia of childhood, or AHC, a rare neurological disorder.
A charging document from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office alleges Hartman of “subjecting her 6-year-old child to medically unnecessary surgical interventions and restraints.”
Hartman is 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.
The charging records – which were filed May 24 – said the girl had over474 medical appointments dating back to 2016.
And in July of 2017, the girl underwent a surgical procedure to insert a gastrostomy tube to her digestive system, which provides nutrients if the patient cannot eat, according to the records. The record stated how the girl also went through a procedure that fed nutrients directly into a vein.
In addition, the girl also had a surgical placement that stops the early onset of puberty — a procedure that requires anesthesia.
But after the girl underwent a 16-day observation at Seattle Children’s hospital in March, results revealed 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.
“This is not based on one investigator,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney. “It’s not based off of a quick investigation. This was months of investigation by police and several experts who weighed in.”
The allegations against Hartman are based on a report by the Safe Child and Adolescent Network, or SCAN, at Seattle Children’s and an investigation by the Renton Police Department. The report also calls into question the girl’s AHC diagnosis.
The report revealed a determining probable cause by the prosecuting attorney’s office, uncovering how the girl had gone through “genetic testing, which had not identified a variant in the gene associated with this disorder, and the diagnosis was therefore made on clinical grounds including the reports of symptoms made by the mother,” Dr. Mark Wainwright of Seattle Children’s Pediatric Neurology stated in a report for probable cause.
According to court reports, the SCAN report was signed by Seattle Children’s Dr. Rebecca Wiester and co-signed by other physicians who cared for the girl.
But according to Hartman’s attorney, Adam Shapiro, the allegations against the mother are false. Shapiro said a physician 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, videotapes 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.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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