Legislative Session

May 31, 2013 9:29 AM by Tonya LaCoste

Senate Passes Bill to Protect Parents from False Abuse Claims

A bill to protect parents from false abuse claims is heading to Governor Bobby Jindal's desk. The amended bill would allow parents to request another opinion if an initial doctor's assessment determines a child has been abused. The bill came to light after an Iota couple's children were taken into state custody.

Senator Dan Morrish, R- Jennings, filed Senate Bill 109 on behalf of Amanda and Jerry Spaetgens. Their baby girl, Calli, died in 2011. The doctor who initially examined Calli suspected abuse, but a second doctor's opinion found no signs of abuse. But, because of the first report, the Department of Children & Family Services conducted an investigation. It was later determined Calli died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The DCFS investigation lasted five-and-half months, and during that time the Spaetgens weren't allowed to be with their two other children unless in the presence of other adults. To stay together as a family, they lived with family and friends until the state finished its investigation, which determined the Spaetgens didn't abuse Calli, and they were not a danger to their other children.

The amended bill would allow a child's medical records from previous and current doctor's and/or hospital visits to be sent to a board certified child abuse pediatrician. That doctor would conclude whether the abuse claim is accurate or inaccurate. DCFS would have to take that pediatrician's decision into account.


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