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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Guilty Until Proven Innocent-I Was Accused of Child Abuse

Recently, I read Nerdy Apple Bottom’s post “My Son is Gay”. Her son was bullied by the other mothers at the Church School, because he decided to be Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween, and she kicked some cyber-ass defending him. My first thought was get that kid out of that school! My one experience with a church preschool was one of the most HELLISH experiences of my life.

I decided to put Joey in this school so he could get exposed to other kids and thought people who go to church are nice, right? I didn’t need daycare because my parents took loving care of him. I decided to pay and have him attend part time, 3 days a week. I was a single mother with a great job and my own 2 bedroom apartment and even though I was young, my son had an awesome life. A church wouldn’t discriminate against me, would they?

Hey I CHOSE life-that’s what you wanted right?

Joey always had bruises. I‘d ask him where he got them and he didn’t know, it obviously did not hurt when it happened. Sometimes there were more than others; most were on his shins and forearms. I talked to his Pediatrician about them, and he said “Let me check this out” and took a blood test. I didn’t hear back so I really didn’t think anything was wrong. 5 months later, he got Chicken Pox. As he got better I noticed that he was getting blood red freckles around his eyes and on his skin. I made an appointment to see his doctor. Over the weekend he fell backwards onto my parent’s brick fireplace and hit his back-just above his hip. Unlike the other times he got bruised, this HURT him. He ended up with a big purple bruise. Since he was feeling better from the Chicken Pox, I took him back to school on Tues day. I got a call from the director of the church preschool and she asked me in an accusing tone, (not an inquiring tone) “Where did he get this bruise on his back?” I told her and let her know about his doctor’s appointment in two days. She said “do you know that he has 42 bruises on his body?” I explained that I had talked to his Dr. about it and I asked her to look at the blood red freckles around his eyes and on his skin. She was dismissive and said “those are probably sunspots”.

Seriously to this day, I still wonder WTF is a sunspot?

She said “well I had to call and tell you” and we hung up. I should have gone and picked him up but I wasn’t thinking like a guilty person. My mom would be there in a couple of hours, I’d take him to the Dr. and everything would be fine. When my mom got there, Joey was being put into a police car. My mom begged them to take him to the ER and have him checked. They refused.

I rushed to the police station and was interrogated like a criminal. “If you didn’t do this, who did?” I had done a lot of reading on parenting, when I had Joey and there isn’t a section in Dr. Spock’s baby book about “what to do when you are falsely accused of child abuse”.
This is a boy with petechiae -NOT SUNSPOTS 

I kept pleading with them to take him to get a medical exam, and to call his doctor. The doctor was not there when they called. His partner took the called an apparently glanced at his file and said there is no report of any blood test. I begged the police to let me get the bill I had at home, that showed he had a blood test-nope not a chance. I insisted that they call the Dr. again, and he still denied any reports of a blood test or a problem with bruising.

I now know that he did NOT read Joey’s file-I saw it later-there it was in the Dr’s shitty handwriting “bruises easily”!!!

I was allowed to see him and try to calm him before they took him to the home “for abused children”; He said “I won’t cry if you don’t cry Mommy”. This was his first night away from home EVER!

“I need you mommy! I need you!” They took him and I could hear him crying and pleading “but I need her”.

My sister I got his favorite blanket that he always slept with, and went to the place where Joey was. My sister took it to the door of the place and tried to get them to give it to him. Some snotty bitch said “he can’t have anything from home, and besides his mom hasn’t even called to see how he is”. My sisters said "his mother is this parking lot crying her eyes out

I'm positive her teeth were clinched-seriously no separation whatsover from upper and lower teeth.

I almost can’t believe that my sister showed restraint and did not go ape shit on her-but she showed uncharacteristic strength and didn't say what was on her mind. She did say “have you fed him? Do you feed your 3 year old prisoners?”


I talked with his social worker at 7 AM and she informed me that she didn’t even have to look into this case for 3 days. DOOM.

I phoned the Dr’s office at 8 AM and explained what had happened. Joey’s Dr called me back in a half hour and said, you need to get him to the hospital immediately-he is very sick. I told him I wish I could but I’m not allowed to go near him. He explained that “somehow, the blood test results got put in the back of his chart and I never saw it.” His platelet count (the component of blood that causes it to clot) was only 33,000 at the time of the test, 6 months prior. A normal platelet count is 150,000 to 400,000. As low as his was, he could have sneezed and had an aneurism. The blood red freckles are called petechiae.

The only fortunate thing about this was that Joey’s doctor was neighbors with the social worker and she took his word on it. I arrived at Orangewood Children’s Home at about noon and they told me also that he was sick and that a nurse had noticed the symptoms of a low platelet count and had done a blood test. His platelet count was 11,000. They told me that if I did not get him medical care, I would be charged with medical neglect. They mumbled something about “being happy that I wasn’t abusing him.”

With that comment and no apology I realized no one learned anything on their side…they still treated me like shit

I was referred to the best pediatric oncologist in Orange County and she rushed him in to her office. His platelet count was down to 9,000 and she filled him with gamma globulin. She did a blood marrow test too, which was harrowing. It did not stop bleeding for almost 2 hours. Now I had to wait another 2 days. Did my baby have Leukemia?

It turned out to be ITP Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, which is a blood disorder. After a hellish year of a 3 year old on 60mgs of prednisone, it was determined he had “platelet antibodies” so his body killed his platelets as they filtered through it. He needed a Splenectomy. He had it done at 4 and a half. An Army of my family came to be with me on his surgery day-a serious Army. People flew in from everywhere to be with us (me) during this huge day.

Turns out he had two spleens. “I had twins? He asked.

He’s recovered nicely, but he is in that 10% of people whose surgery does not cure all of the ITP. If he gets sick the platelets drop…but we have it handled.

Today Joey is 23, because I let him live through his teen years.

That’s when I should have beaten him.

He was recently taken away from me once again, but this time by a beautiful girl named Alyse.

I can almost deal with it.

This will probably never happen to you, but be aware that it can. Please forward this to all the parents you know.
Joey and I after the Race for the Cure in Newport Beach


  1. Wow! So sorry you and your son went through such a terrible ordeal! It is sad but true, people are always eager to demonize you before they get the facts. Glad that you came through it all okay :)

  2. I think you should mention that smart ass Officer Pickney of the Tustin PD. He was SUCH an asshole. We should have sued.

  3. Whoa, Pegi. Glad that had a happy ending. Jim agrees.

  4. I totally know about all of this since it happened to my son as well. Luckily he has not needed surgery and we were never accused of abuse...though it looked like he had been abused for sure. Thanks for posting. Nice to know there are more people out there who know what I went through.