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Dr. Cop MD
September 16, 2006 permalink
Here is a follow-up to the story of the mother jailed for trying to get a second opinion on treatment for her baby's kidney problem. The baby got the disputed surgical implant on June 30. The mother has drawn a suspended sentence, meaning that any failure to follow the doctor's orders will place her back in jail. Parents now have to treat doctors the same way as cops.
Mother who took baby from hospital out of jail
A mother who snatched her sick baby from Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center and triggered a statewide dragnet in June walked out of the King County Courthouse a free woman Friday after being sentenced on a reduced charge of custodial interference.
Tina Carlsen ran away with her 9-month-old boy, Riley, on June 21 to spare him from dialysis treatment for kidney problems, believing that naturopathic treatment was a better way to return the baby to health.
It was the culmination of months of discord with physicians who ultimately prevailed upon state Child Protective Services to take custody of Riley to ensure he received dialysis.
"You're not before this court because there was any intent to harm your child ... or that you acted for any reason other than out of love for your child," Superior Court Judge Richard Jones told the tearful defendant.
Jones sentenced Carlsen, 35, to a one-year suspended sentence on the misdemeanor offense.
Following nearly identical sentencing recommendations from the prosecutor and defense attorneys, Jones ordered Carlsen to ensure that Riley makes all his dialysis appointments. The mother also must follow all recommendations and conditions of both CPS and the dependency court in Pierce County that granted the state custody of the boy.
Carlsen will continue to have unlimited access to Riley, who is living with his father, Todd Rogers, as long as Rogers is present.
Carlsen's flight with her son prompted authorities to issue an Amber Alert and initially charge her with kidnapping.
"When she was on the run, we didn't know her intent," Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Johnson told the judge Friday. "The child's medical condition was tenuous."
If Carlsen had fled the state and was pulled over on a traffic stop, a felony warrant would appear when officers ran her name through police databases.
Johnson told the court Carlsen's actions were "well-meaning" but "misguided."
Defense attorney Michele Shaw portrayed Carlsen as a strong-willed woman acting out of a deep maternal instinct to protect her baby.
Before Riley was born, doctors told Carlsen that he would be born profoundly handicapped as a result of a genetic defect. They pressured her to have an abortion, but the mother refused "for personal and religious reasons," Shaw said.
Carlsen did extensive research on the Internet to assure herself that Riley would be OK. The baby did not have the genetic defect, but shortly after birth, he was diagnosed with kidney failure.
Carlsen stuck to her own faith in alternative treatments and opposed plans to start dialysis, prompting doctors to seek intervention by CPS.
The morning of June 21, several hours before scheduled surgery, Carlsen "panicked" and fled with her son, according to Shaw's memo to the court.
"I apologize for what this has caused," Carlsen told the judge with tears in her eyes.
"The state has expended a lot of money. This has gotten way out of hand. I do apologize for all the craziness that has trailed behind me."
Jones told her that she got in trouble for violating a court order giving CPS custody, not for challenging her doctors.
"I'm not condemning you for considering alternative or naturopathic medicine," the judge said. "That's a philosophical issue that could go on until the end of time."
Shaw said Riley continues to undergo dialysis treatment and is "thriving."
P-I reporter Paul Shukovsky can be reached at 206-448-8072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer