Sunday, May 30, 2021

Alternating hemiplegia of childhood and medical child abuse

A Renton, Washington mother under investigation for allegations of "medical child abuse" has been charged with second-degree assault of a child and second-degree attempted assault of a child.

Charging documents from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office allege 31-year-old Sophie Hartman subjected her Black, adopted 6-year-old daughter to "medically unnecessary surgical interventions and restraints" for treatment of a rare neurological disease known as Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood.

The documents note that the child has undergone nearly 500 medical appointments since she was around 2 years old and was given a surgically implanted feeding tube and a cecostomy tube to help flush the intestines. In addition, the documents state the child also used leg braces and a wheelchair despite doctors telling Hartman that they were unnecessary.

Four medical professionals on the child’s care team issued a report to the Washington State Department of Children Youth and Families in February, reviewed and signed by the medical director for Seattle Children’s Hospital, in which they call the risk to her child "profound."

"This situation is a case of medical child abuse," the report reads. "It is not necessary to know the possible motivation of a caregiver, only the outcome of the behavior. It is my concern that this pattern has resulted in unnecessary medical testing, medication, procedures, surgeries and debility of this child." Following the report, DCYF contacted the Renton Police Department, who began their own investigation.

Hartman told Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2018 that AHC would make her daughter "go paralyzed" at any given time. 

"She can lose the ability to talk and go into all different types of seizures and have extreme pain," Hartman said. "It's really tough." 

She added that doctors and "even the best pediatric specialists, do not know what to do and do not have treatment options." 

"She needs access to oxygen because her breathing shallows and slows," Hartman continued. "She depends on her feeding tube when she's unable to eat."

In 2019, after her daughter received her wish, Hartman said her daughter's supposed disorder "has been likened to a time bomb, that is a human time bomb for which there is no cure."

"For us, this is what life looks like," Hartman added. "It's navigating constant traumatic chaos, making plans that will inevitably fall through and battling resentment and bitterness for all that is outside of our control." 

According search warrants, while Hartman's daughter was diagnosed with AHC, doctors told investigators the diagnosis was based on information directly from Hartman, and that none of the symptoms, including severe seizures, had been observed firsthand. The girl was removed from Hartman's care in March and admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital for a 16 day admission. 

"At no point during her admission were there any findings or reported symptoms to support any of her prior diagnoses," the court documents state. "All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests (redacted) is a healthy young 6-year-old." 

Court documents also reveal that investigators found a series of diary entries in which Hartman allegedly mentioned various instances in which she lied about having different illnesses when she was younger, including meningitis and mono. 

In one entry, Hartman allegedly said "when it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator."

Hartman's attorneys told Q13 Fox that Hartman is innocent of the "wholly unjustified" charges from King County prosecutors, adding that they are "based on false statements and misrepresentations of the medical record by a doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital who has never seen the child or spoken with Ms. Hartman," despite "overwhelming objective evidence" supporting the diagnosis. 

"Ms. Hartman’s child was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, by one of the few expert pediatric neurologists in the world from Duke University and by a neurologist at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma," the lawyers continued. "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 lawyers added that the King County Prosecuting Attorney has the medical records from Duke as well as records from Seattle Children’s Hospital "amply supporting the diagnosis" as well as "the consistent reports of Ms. Hartman." 

Make-A-Wish told Q13 Fox that it was "deeply saddened and dismayed to learn about the alleged child abuse case involving one of our former wish families" and that the health and well-being of its wish children are "always of paramount concern to us.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/washington-mother-charged-in-medical-child-abuse-case


12 comments:

  1. A Renton woman has pleaded not guilty to charges that she subjected her healthy 6-year-old adopted daughter to more than 470 unnecessary medical appointments and procedures, including surgeries, over a four-year period.

    Sophie Hartman, 31, entered the plea Thursday via Zoom in King County Superior Court to one count of second-degree child assault and one count of second-degree attempted child assault.

    According to court documents in the case, Hartman has cared for the adopted daughter and her older sister since 2015, when they came to the U.S. from Zambia. Hartman is white and both adopted daughters are Black, and Hartman formally adopted both of them in 2019.
    Beginning in 2016, Hartman began subjecting the younger daughter to medically unnecessary treatments and surgeries after claiming that the daughter experienced a rare disorder that caused her to have seizures and other health problems, the court records show.

    In July 2017, the daughter was forced to undergo surgical placement of a gastrostomy tube, a tube that provides direct access to the stomach to provide food, liquid, and medication when a child is unable to eat by mouth.

    In December 2018, the girl underwent surgical placement of a cecostomy tube, a tube that is surgically placed into the intestine so that liquids can be used to flush the bowels.

    Hartman also sought the surgical placement of a hormonal implant intended to suppress the early onset of puberty in her 6-year-old daughter, according to the court file. Placement of this device is invasive and requires anesthesia. (continued)

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  2. (continued) In addition to surgical interventions, Hartman has required her daughter to wear leg braces, orthotics and use a wheelchair since at least 2016, the court documents show. Hartman also allegedly told a paraeducator at her daughter's school that the girl could "leave us anytime."

    But doctors eventually became suspicious and told Hartman in June 2019 that their examination showed her daughter did not need braces, orthotics or a wheelchair. Nonetheless, Hartman continued to restrain the girl in leg braces and used a wheelchair when she met with a different specialist a few days later, court records show.

    Hartman also carried out a fundraiser around this time and used the money to buy a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, the court file shows..

    The director of the Seattle Children's Hospital, Dr. Rebecca Wiester, wrote a letter to the authorities saying the child was facing “profound risk” at the hands of her caretaker. She also asked the authorities to dig deeper in investigating Hartman.

    Dr. Wiester said: “All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests (the child) is a healthy young six-year-old who would continue to benefit from a de-escalation of medical support and normalization of her childhood experience.”

    Both daughters eventually were taken from Hartman.

    In March, the 6-year-old girl was brought to Seattle Children's Hospital for a 16-day stay where it was found that the surgically implanted tubes were unnecessary and that she could eat normally and have normal bowel movements.

    All of her medications were discontinued without issue or emergence of symptoms, and she also was able to run and walk without the use of orthotics and demonstrated no need for a wheelchair, according to court documents.

    "The importance and significance of this 16-day admission, during which care providers were able to objectively observe (the child) cannot be overstated," court documents say. "Since her discharge on April 2, 2021, (the girl) has met her hydration and caloric needs by mouth and her c-tube has not been used at all."

    Hartman’s attorneys deny the allegations against her, and say the girl was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, “alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC), by an expert at Duke University and by a neurologist at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma.”

    Hartman’s attorneys allege that “the child has been evaluated and treated by the doctors at Duke for three years.”

    At Thursday's hearing, Hartman was ordered to have only supervised contact with the two girls, to surrender any firearms and not to leave the state without permission from the court.

    https://komonews.com/news/local/charge-renton-mom-subjected-healthy-daughter-to-450-unnecessary-medical-procedures

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  3. Sophie Hartman of the Seattle suburb of Renton, Washington, who is white, adopted two Black children from Zambia where she worked as a missionary, according to court documents obtained by Atlanta Black Star. The children were removed from her home on March 17, 2021. One of Hartman’s daughters was held at a hospital, and doctors at the medical center informed authorities of the child’s “suspicious medical history.”

    Hartman carried her 6-year-old daughter to an estimated 500 medical appointments over the span of about five years, according to charging documents filed on May 24. Doctors said that as a result, she has received an “unnecessary medical procedure,” as well as a surgically implanted feeding tube, with a cecostomy tube, to flush out the intestines. Though doctors advised against it, the young girl was also committed to a wheelchair and wore leg braces at least as early as 2016, court documents said.

    In 2018, Make-a-Wish granted the child a wish. In a video sent to the foundation, Hartman explained that her daughter had Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC), a disease she said could cause her child to become paralyzed at any time.(continued)

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  4. (continued)“She can lose the ability to talk and go into all different types of seizures and have extreme pain. It’s really tough,” Hartman said in the video.

    The 31-year-old mother also said that even the “best pediatric specialists” have no idea what to do, and that “…she needs access to oxygen because her breathing shallows and slows; she depends on her feeding tube when she’s unable to eat.”

    Medical providers informed detectives that they did diagnose Hartman’s daughter with AHC, but only based on the symptom details that Hartman provided — symptoms that were only witnessed by her, according to search warrants.

    A Seattle Children’s Hospital physician advised detectives that according to medical findings, it was likely that the child was not afflicted with the disease.

    In 2019, “a group of (redacted) specialists and providers at Seattle Children’s Hospital” requested consultation of the Safe Child and Adolescent Network (SCAN) due to alarm concerning “a pattern of parental requests for increasingly invasive procedures based upon undocumented signs and symptoms reported by the parent,” read investigative reports.

    A report warning of the risk to the child was “co-authored by four medical professionals of the child’s care team,” and was “reviewed and signed by the medical director for Seattle Children’s Hospital.”
    “This situation is a case of medical child abuse … ” said the report. “It is not necessary to know the possible motivation of a caregiver, only the outcome of the behavior. It is my concern that this pattern has resulted in unnecessary medical testing, medication, procedures, surgeries and debility of this child.”(continued)

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  5. (continued)In February 2021, the report was sent to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The Renton Police Department was contacted, and commenced their investigation.

    Detectives also discovered diary entries written by Hartman, in which she allegedly described several instances in which she lied about having various diseases, such as meningitis and mono, in her youth, said court documents. Detectives noted that in one entry Hartman allegedly transcribed, “when it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator.”

    Hartman penned an account of her work in Africa in a book that she said initiated her decision to adopt, reported The Independent. She received a flurry of interest once she publicly revealed the youngest daughter was diagnosed with AHC, and A GoFundMe page was established for a wheelchair.

    The child’s various procedures date back to 2016, according to court documents. They also revealed that Hartman allegedly searched for “cochlear implants Black child,” “how to get paid to take care of a member of the family with a disability,” “making a pretend model of hearing aid,” and “funeral songs” on her iPad and iPhone.

    In March, the child was taken from the care of her mother and monitored for 16 days at a local hospital, according to investigators.

    “At no point during her admission were there any findings or reported symptoms to support any of her prior diagnoses. All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests (redacted) is a health young 6-year-old,” said court documents. Within the two week stay at the hospital, the child was able to eat and drink on her own, run and walk without the use of any aids and “demonstrated no need for a wheelchair”

    Hartman was charged with second-degree assault of a child and second-degree attempted assault of a child. The state requested her bail be at $100,000 based on the defendant’s likelihood to commit a violent offense and interview with the administration of justice.

    Hartman’s attorneys released a statement asserting that the charges “are based on false statements and misrepresentations of the medical record by a doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital who has never seen the child or spoken with Ms. Hartman.”

    In addition, they vouched for the legitimacy of the daughter’s illness, writing, “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,” the statement read.

    “Sophie Hartman is the mother of a young child with a rare neurological condition diagnosed and treated by doctors at Duke University Medical Center. … Ms. Hartman is innocent of these charges.”

    Representatives of the Make-A-Wish Foundation released a statement soon after news broke of the investigation. “We are deeply saddened and dismayed to learn about the alleged child abuse case involving one of our former wish families,” read a statement provided to Q13 FOX. “This is a very serious allegation and any threat to the well-being of a child is not in alignment with the child-centered focus of our mission. We hope this matter is quickly remedied in the best interest of the child.”

    https://atlantablackstar.com/2021/06/03/medical-child-abuse-seattle-woman-charged-for-subjecting-her-adopted-black-child-to-hundreds-of- unnecessary-medical-treatments-it-took-years-before-she-was-exposed/

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  6. A Renton mom accused of sending her adopted daughter to nearly 500 medical appointments over 4 years and making her wear leg braces when doctors said they weren't needed has pleaded not guilty to assault charges.

    Sophie Hartman, 31, appeared in a King County courtroom Thursday morning for her arraignment. She's charged with second-degree assault of a child and second-degree attempted assault of a child.

    Hartman and her attorneys asked the judge to reduce her $100,000 bail, but the judge declined their requests.

    According to court documents, the investigation into Hartman began when doctors reported that her now 6-year-old adopted daughter was being given unnecessary medical treatments at the urging of her mother.

    The child has a surgically implanted feeding tube, a cecostomy tube to flush out the intestines and leg braces and a wheelchair that doctors said the child did not need.

    Hartman's daughter was the recipient of a Make-A-Wish gift in 2018, and in 2019 Hartman spoke at a Make-A-Wish fundraiser about AHC, a disease she says her daughter had been diagnosed with. Doctors, however, told investigators that the diagnosis was based on information given to them by Hartman regarding her daughter's symptoms.

    Detectives say they also found a diary entry in which Hartman wrote: "When it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator."

    Hartman and her attorneys deny the allegations and say her daughter does suffer from a rare neurological condition. Here's the statement Hartman's attorney released on her behalf:

    "Sophie Hartman is one hundred percent innocent of these allegations. She loves her daughter and only tried to arrange the best care for her given a rare neurological disease with which her daughter has been diagnosed. Multiple doctors agree that her daughter suffers from this disease. Additionally, we had one of the world’s foremost experts on medical child abuse review the medical records in this case and he determined that these charges are a miscarriage of justice. We are sorry that the government refuses to acknowledge the actual facts in this case and disregarded the opinions of multiple doctors and an independent expert’s opinion. We are anxious to go to trial and prove her innocence."

    https://www.q13fox.com/news/renton-mom-accused-of-subjecting-adopted-daughter-to-unnecessary-medical-procedures-pleads-not-guilty

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  7. Last summer, Sophie Hartman was fixated on her 6-year-old adopted daughter Carmel possibly showing signs of early puberty.

    The 31-year-old single mom from Renton, Washington, scheduled an appointment at Seattle Children’s Hospital with a pediatric endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in glands and the hormones they produce, according to a Renton Police probable-cause affidavit.

    Hartman, a white, Jesus-loving former missionary, strapped Carmel—a little Black girl born in Zambia—into a wheelchair and rolled her into a medical room, where they met with the endocrinologist. Carmel was “a very handicapped child” who was showing “cyclical symptoms” such as a “discharge” in her underwear, Hartman told the doctor. The symptoms were occurring for four straight days around the same time every month, she added.

    Carmel went through a battery of medical exams, including blood work and X-ray imaging. The doctor found “modest clinical findings of early puberty,” but not enough to confirm Carmel was indeed accelerating into womanhood.

    During a follow-up appointment at Seattle Children’s in October, another endocrinologist ran more tests on Carmel. The doctor found no signs of active puberty in the child, but informed Hartman about two treatments used to suppress pubescence. One involved giving Carmel injections; the other option was more drastic, requiring “surgically lacerating” Carmel’s skin with a scalpel to insert an implant used to suppress early puberty.

    What I am reading in the arrest report doesn’t sound at all like my friend.
    — Shannon Dingle
    The doctor warned Hartman that the implant would be difficult to remove after it was inserted into the skin. Yet she was “emphatic” about getting the implant for Carmel even though it wasn’t medically necessary, the physician later told Renton Police Detective Adele O’Rourke.

    On March 17, O’Rourke met with Hartman in her home. During a recorded interview, police say, Hartman admitted she wanted the surgery for Carmel. “Even though doing an implant is more invasive, it really isn’t that big of a deal,” Hartman told O’Rourke, according to the probable-cause affidavit. “I think that would be better.”

    After doctors ruled out ovarian cysts as the cause for her daughter’s alleged symptoms, Hartman said she wanted to proceed with the implant. “I was like great,” Hartman allegedly said to the detective, recalling her last conversation with the endocrinologist. “Let’s get this on the schedule.”

    Authorities didn’t give Hartman the chance.

    The same day, Washington’s Department of Child, Youth, and Families placed Carmel and her older sister, Miah, whom Hartman also adopted, into protective custody. Hartman’s quest to stifle Carmel’s alleged early puberty is just one of several bizarre episodes documented in a probable-cause affidavit that led King County prosecutors to charge Hartman last month with two second-degree felony counts: assault on a child and attempted assault on a child.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/sophie-hartman-went-on-a-pr-tour-for-her-sick-adopted-african-child-but-was-it-all-a-lie

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  8. The charges, which Hartman denies and to which she has pleaded not guilty, landed with a thud in the sometimes tight-knit world of white, American Evangelicals who adopt children from abroad. But the case also brought attention to the obscure crime of medical child abuse, in which a primary caregiver forces a child to undergo unnecessary treatment.

    “What I am reading in the arrest report doesn’t sound at all like my friend,” Shannon Dingle, a single mom from Raleigh, North Carolina, who also has adopted African children and met Hartman in 2016 at an adoption conference in Seattle, told The Daily Beast.

    Dingle said she and Hartman became friends and have remained in constant contact via text messaging and online chatting the past five years, as well as meeting in person during Hartman’s trips to Raleigh.

    She still believes in Hartman’s innocence.
    “How we got to the point that Sophie is being blamed for being abusive by having medical procedures that medical teams had to approve is something I don’t understand,” Dingle said. “It feels like a lot of responsibility is being put on Sophie that were team decisions.”

    In addition to Dingle, Hartman has at least one well-renowned medical child abuse expert in her corner. Dr. Eli Newberger, a former Harvard medical school pediatrics professor who founded the child protection program at Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote to prosecutors on May 17 in an attempt to discourage them from filing charges against Hartman. However, legal experts believe there’s a strong case against the Washington mother.

    Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University national health-law professor, told The Daily Beast that he reviewed the allegations in Hartman’s case and found authorities acted appropriately in removing her daughters from her care and investigating her for medical child abuse.

    “The first thing you have to do in a case like this is ensure the safety and the well-being of the child,” Gostin told The Daily Beast. “Putting children under medical procedures that are unnecessary is just as harmful, and maybe more so, than physically abusing a child.”

    Efforts to reach Hartman for this story were unsuccessful. Her attorneys Robert Flennaugh II, Jessica Goldman, and Adam Shapiro did not respond to phone messages and emails containing detailed questions. But in a previous joint statement released when she was charged, Hartman’s lawyers insisted prosecutors did not have a case against their client.(continued)

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  9. (continued)“These charges are based on false statements and misrepresentations of the medical record by a doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital who has never seen the child or spoken with Ms. Hartman,” the statement said. “Ms. Hartman is innocent of these charges.”

    Dr. Rebecca Wiester, medical director of Seattle Children’s Protection Program, is the doctor Hartman’s lawyers referenced in their statement. She penned a Feb. 21 letter to Washington child protection services that was co-signed by Carmel’s primary physicians. The three-page memo outlined their concerns about the danger Hartman was putting her daughter in. “It is not necessary to know the motivation of the caregiver, only the outcome of the behavior,” Wiester wrote. “The risk to [Carmel] is profound in this situation.”

    Wiester declined an interview through Seattle Children’s spokeswoman Kathryn Mueller, who noted Washington health-care providers are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse. “The health and safety of our patients is Seattle Children’s highest priority,” Mueller said. “Out of respect for privacy, we will not comment about specific cases.”

    Based on a referral from child-welfare investigators, Detective O’Rourke led a four-month criminal investigation into Hartman. That included poring over hundreds of pages of medical records and interviewing dozens of medical professionals, physical therapists, and teachers who interacted with Hartman and Carmel on a regular basis, according to the 21-page probable-cause affidavit.

    Renton Police Department Investigations Commander David Leibman and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesman Casey McNerthney declined comment for this story. “We’re going to let the court documents speak for themselves,” McNerthney said.

    But their findings painted a disturbing picture of a woman who constantly sought medical treatment for her daughter even as she burnished her public profile.

    Between 2017 and 2018, they concluded, Hartman convinced physicians at two hospitals, including Seattle Children’s, to surgically insert tubes into Carmel’s digestive organs to help nourish her and expel bowel movements. This, they say, was solely based on the mom’s account that her daughter had trouble swallowing, had chronic vomiting episodes, had excessive diarrhea, and had debilitating bouts of constipation.(continued)

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  10. (continued)Since being removed from Hartman’s care, they added, Carmel—who is identified by her initials in the affidavit and charging document since she is a minor—was eating food like a normal person, and the tubes were set to be removed.

    Hartman also forced Carmel to wear orthotics, gait trainers, and ankle and leg braces since she was 2 years old, police say, adding that the mother also regularly strapped the girl to a wheelchair for long periods. The mom ignored directives that Carmel needed normal activities to develop appropriate muscle strength and physical development, according to doctors who were interviewed by investigators.

    Meanwhile, teachers told detectives that Carmel had no problem walking, running, and performing normal childhood activities at school when she wasn’t under Hartman’s supervision.

    Finally, Hartman claimed Carmel was diagnosed with alternating hemiplegia of childhood, or AHC, a rare neurological disease that causes repeated, prolonged episodes of paralysis, by leading neurologists at the Duke University Institute for Brain Sciences. In a recorded statement, Dr. Mohamed Mikati, Duke’s chief of pediatric neurology, told O’Rourke that Carmel does not have the genetic mutation that causes AHC and that he relied on Hartman’s descriptions of Carmel’s symptoms to make his diagnosis. Spokespeople for Mikati and Duke Health did not respond to emails requesting comment.

    If there were any doubt behind the scenes about the nature or extent of Carmel’s illnesses, her mother’s public posture suggested otherwise.

    Throughout Carmel’s ordeal, Hartman invited donations and routinely garnered publicity, the probable-cause affidavit states. She wrote a book about her experience traveling to Zambia for missionary work and returning with her two girls, and was a featured author at a Barnes and Noble meet and greet in 2016. Local media outlets published and produced human interest stories about Carmel, as Hartman promoted a social media presence for her daughter by creating an Instagram account and a private Facebook group so people could follow the little girl’s daily activities, according to the probable-cause affidavit.

    In 2018, the Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for Carmel, her mom, and her sister to travel to a ranch in Oregon to ride horses, per the affidavit. Police allege the trip was paid from donations to the nonprofit. Hartman also gave a speech about Carmel at a Make-A-Wish fundraiser. A friend and Hartman’s congregation at Pursuit NW Church in Snohomish, Washington, raised $15,661 and $30,583, respectively, so that Carmel’s mom could purchase a handicapped accessible SUV.
    Press accounts burnished an image of Hartman as a single mom struggling to care for a severely sick kid. But police say her own words suggested she may be someone who is prone to making things up.
    (continued)

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  11. (continued)As a result of a search warrant for her house, Renton Police investigators took Hartman’s personal journals and found pages in which she described lying in the past about injuries and illnesses she sustained as a teen, the probable-cause affidavit states. In one passage about her freshman year of high school, Hartman wrote that she “used a pen to bruise my hand and faked a broken hand,” as well as not telling the truth that she had “mono and meningitis.” On another page, Hartman allegedly indicated that she was “angry” and “abusive” with her children.

    “Oh Lord, what have I become,” she wrote in the journal, according to the affidavit. “Who is this bad soul? It’s me.” She also allegedly wrote on a loose piece of paper: “When it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator.”

    As law-enforcement authorities built their case against Hartman between March and May, her lawyers brought in Newberger, the Boston-based child-abuse expert, to bolster her defense—and debunk the findings of Wiester and the other Seattle Children’s pediatricians.

    Newberger claimed he reviewed the medical records and witness statements mentioned in the probable-cause affidavit, according to a May 17 letter he wrote to King County deputy prosecuting attorney Celia Lee.

    “Duke medical staff, third party witnesses, and videos of Carmel corroborate significant symptoms that were documented with assiduous care and accuracy by Ms. Hartman,” Newberger wrote. “The medical records show that Ms. Hartman did not simply invent symptoms.”

    In a brief phone call, Newberger told The Daily Beast he could not comment about his findings because he expected to be called as a defense witness. He said he was referred to Hartman’s lawyers by a prominent legal scholar who has written about medical child abuse. “I reviewed the information and made an informed decision within my ethical threshold,” Newberger said.

    Legal experts, on the other hand, argue King County prosecutors have documented enough evidence of medical child abuse to present a strong case against Hartman.

    “The criminal procedure against the mom is drastic,” Gostin, the Georgetown professor, said. “But if the facts are as alleged, it is a legitimate prosecution.” Taking Hartman’s daughters into protective custody was also justified, he added.(continued)

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  12. (continued)Despite having her kids taken away and being criminally charged for child abuse, Hartman hasn’t spent a day in jail. She participated in her June 3 arraignment hearing via Zoom from her home; King County Judge Tanya Thorp set her bail at $100,000.

    On June 10, Hartman was administratively booked after posting her bond, a process that allows a person to show up to the King County jail to be fingerprinted and photographed and be immediately released upon payment of bail. In addition, she was allowed to have supervised visits with her daughters in April and May, and Thorp granted her continued visitations while her case is pending. According to the probable-cause affidavit, doctors kept Carmel under observation for 16 days after removing her from Hartman; during that time, the girl walked and ate food normally without any medical issues.

    Meanwhile, fellow Evangelicals, neighbors, and friends are either distancing themselves from Hartman or else refusing to believe that she could be so cruel to her adopted daughter.

    Russell Johnson, Pursuit NW Church’s head pastor, told The Daily Beast that he and other church leaders have not seen or heard from her in the last year. “As were so many others, the leadership of the Pursuit NW was horrified to read the charges against Sophie Hartman,” he said in an email statement. “The Pursuit NW has a zero-tolerance policy for child abuse. We pray for these precious children and that justice be done.”

    Matt Dimeo, who lives in the house next-door to Hartman, was more equivocal. He described her as a “good gal” and a “very nice person,” ultimately declining to opine on the accusations against
    her. “Whether I am surprised or not, it doesn’t make a difference,” Dimeo said. “We are going to trust the system, and hopefully it is a positive situation for the children.”

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/sophie-hartman-went-on-a-pr-tour-for-her-sick-adopted-african-child-but-was-it-all-a-lie

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