Bail lowered for medical child abuse mom
By Brent Weisberg
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The mother at the center of a high profile medical abuse case asked that her bail be lowered so she can be released from custody, but after a judge’s ruling, her attorney said she will not be able to post the bail and will remain in custody pending trial.
Katherine Parker, who is also known as Kate Parker, appeared before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric J. Bloch Wednesday morning for the first time since her April 4 arraignment on a 43 count grand jury indictment stemming from alleged medical child abuse.
“Medical child abuse occurs when a care provider falsifies or fabricates a child’s medical history, symptoms or condition to the degree that the fabricated illness is perceived as real to the treatment providers,” Deputy District Attorney Susan O’Connor wrote in court documents. “Medical child abuse then results in the victims undergoing painful examinations, surgeries and treatment.”
O’Connor writes the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office opposes release because the “highly complex and serious nature of the current charges.”
The indictment – which KOIN 6 News first reported on – charges Parker with 24 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment, four counts of first-degree assault, one count of child abandonment, four counts of computer crime, four counts of identity theft, five counts of witness tampering and one count of recklessly endangering another.
O’Connor writes the release of Parker would present challenges in protecting the victims and could increase the potential for additional witness and evidence tampering.
Parker was arrested April 1 at her home in Grants Pass, Ore. following the secret grand jury indictment.
Parker’s alleged medical abuse
Between February 2007 and October 2013, Parker engaged in medical abuse on at least three of her children, court documents state.
On Aug. 28, 2013, her seven year old son was brought to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel for pain medication management in anticipation of being placed on hospice care, court documents state. The treating physician requested an evaluation at CARES Northwest, which is a child abuse assessment and treatment center, because contrary to the assertions made by Parker, the boy “did not appear to be dying,” O’Connor wrote.
The doctor reviewed medical records and conclude that the boy was “subjected to both major and minor surgical procedures that were medically unnecessary,” O’Connor wrote.
The doctor noted in an evaluation that Parker “specifically misrepresented what physicians had told her and that she provided inaccurate history” about the child, court documents state.
The seven year old boy was born with a variant of spina bifida and found to have Chiari type 1, which is brain tissue that extends into the spinal canal, the doctor’s report states.
The child’s “medical conditions have not followed usual projected path and [the child] has undergone multiple procedure and hospitalizations since his birth,” the doctor’s report states.
When he was admitted to the hospital in August 2013, Parker reported that his condition had declined, that he was in constant pain, and having frequent episodes of apnea and low oxygen levels, the doctor’s report states.
“At the time of his admission, [the child] was noted to be quite different than the family’s description of a dying child,” the doctor’s report states. It was also evident that [the child] was not acutely terminal or dying, the doctor stated.
During the child’s hospital stay, staff noted “concerning behaviors by the mother,” the doctor’s report states. Parker had asked that the child not be stimulated or provide potentially reversing medications if he stopped breathing, documents state. “Mother also frequently talked about his imminent death and informed a provider that the best outcome would be his death,” the doctor’s report states.
The staff also noted that Parker was telling her son to “push his button” which would deliver pain medications when he was not in pain, and that she would press it for him when he did not comply, court documents state.
The doctor’s child abuse assessment reveled that while at the hospital, the child “has been active and alert.” The symptoms that Parker reported were not observed by hospital staff.
Detectives learned that Parker asked her son “pretending to have a headache and showed it to the physician in order to get [the child’s] already extremely high doses of pain medications increased, O’Connor wrote.
By the time the child was released from the hospital, he no longer needed a wheelchair or G-Tube and was nearly weaned off of all the pain medications that he had been on when he was admitted, O’Connor wrote.
“[The child] is currently thriving in foster care compared to his condition while in the care of [Parker],” O’Connor wrote.
Portland Police Bureau detective Erica Hurley later learned Parker and her husband, who has not been criminally charged in the case, adopted two of their nine children, O’Connor wrote. The two girls both have Down syndrome and were adopted from the Ukraine in 2010.
“Although they were both able to feed by mouth when they were living in the Ukrainian orphanage, within a relatively short period of time of coming into [Parker’s] care, both girls had G-Tubes installed and failed to thrive,” O’Connor states.
By December 2012, Parker began to claim that one of the girls was dying, O’Connor wrote. The doctor who conducted the child abuse assessment reviewed medical records of the two girls and concluded that both children “had undergone surgical procedures that were medically unnecessary,” O’Connor wrote.
Hurley discovered multiple solicitations on the internet for donations to help the Parker family. The requests included:
- Money to fund the adoption of the two girls in 2010
- Money so Parker’s husband could take time off work to spend with his son “before he died in July 2011” (the child never died)
- Money and gifts to throw a 5 ½ year old birthday party for the boy in July 2011 because “he was unlikely to live until his sixth birthday
- Money for funeral expenses for one of the adopted girls in January 2013 (the child never died)
- Money so that Parker’s husband could take time off work after she claimed her son died in August 2013 (again, the child did not die)
In the August 2013 fundraiser, detective Hurley learned $2,315 was raised. “Parker acknowledged that the money was spent event though [the child] has not died,” court documents state.
Police continue to investigate the family’s financial standing.
When Parker was interviewed by police at the hospital, she repeatedly stated that she “can’t go to jail,” court documents state. O’Connor said Parker called and talked to four of her other minor children to tell them what to say when DHS came to talk to them.
Police executed a search warrant at Parker’s Grants Pass, Ore. residence and found the urn that Parker had purchased for her child’s ashes, court documents state.
Defense attorney: ‘She has no criminal record’
Parker’s defense attorney, Jon P. Martz, argued that his client has no criminal record. He said that all of the Parker’s minor children have been taken into protective custody in Grants Pass.
Martz described Parker as a regular church goer who is always “on time” to her court hearings. He said Parker has long been aware of the criminal investigation against her and had “ample time” to flee, but “she didn’t.”
Parker and her husband are both estranged from their families, Martz said.
“They are their own family,” he said.
He said that Parker will not be able to afford a high bail because she is a stay at home mother, and that she and her husband rent their home in Grants Pass.
Martz said his client does not have a personality disorder and is not “mentally disturbed.”
The judge ruled that he would lower Parker’s bail from its current $1.1 million to just under $400,000. Under Oregon law, she would have to post 10% of that amount to be released. Her attorney said she would be unable to post the new amount, and said she would remain in custody until trial.
A trial date will be set later this week.
Deputy District Attorney Chuck Mickley, who is also prosecuting the case, said there are thousands of pages of medical and financial records that will be presented in court during trial.
Parker has pleaded not guilty to the indictment against her.
After the hearing Martz, Parker’s husband and adult son and other supporters in court Wednesday said they did not want to comment on the case until it was resolved.