May 3, 2013 12:57 PM by Tonya LaCoste

Bill to protect parents from false abuse claims heads to Senate

A bill to protect parents from false abuse claims is pending Senate approval after a Senate committee gave its approval Wednesday. Senator Dan Morrish, R-Jennings, filed the bill on behalf of an Iota family whose children were taken away from them while the Department of Children & Family Services conducted an investigation.

The investigation began after Amanda and Jerry Spaetgens' infant died in 2011. After they found baby Calli unresponsive in her crib, medics arrived and gave her epinephrine then rushed her to a hospital. The doctor who initially examined Calli at the hospital reported suspected abuse to the state. A second doctor's opinion found no signs of abuse, but because of the first report, the state was required to step in and investigate. Callie died four days later of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. One of the doctor's determined she died after reacting to medicine, which caused renal hemorrhaging - symptoms of abuse; hence, the first doctor suspicions of child abuse.

As if trying to cope with the death of their baby wasn't taxing enough, the Spaetgens two other children were taken into state custody, and Amanda and Jerry were allowed no contact with them unless they were in the presence of other adults. To stay together as a family, they lived with family and friends for five-and-a-half months until the state finished its investigation, which determined the Spaetgens didn't abuse Calli, and they were not a danger to their other children.

Morrish's bill would require a third opinion if two initial examinations don't agree. The full Senate will consider the bill on May 6. If it passes the Senate, it'll move to the House for discussion.


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