Midvale man charged in daughter's death

Relates to:
Date: 1995-07-26

By Jason N. Swensen
The Desert News

A Midvale nurse is being blamed for his adoptive daughters asphyxiation death after he performed a controversial behavioral therapy on the child called “holding technique."

Donald Lee Tibbeis. 36, was charged Tuesday with child-abuse homicide, a second-degree felony, for “recklessly causing the death" of 3-year-old Krystal Ann Tibbets.

Tibbets admitted he used a holding technique on July 7 to control his daughter's emotional outbursts by placing his weight and fist on his daughter's chest and stomach. according to a 31-d Circuit Court compiaint.

Krystal vomited and reportedly turned blue during the therapy. but her father. a registered nurse, decided she did not need medical help. the complaint said.

The child was later taken to Alta View Hospital after her mother. Julia Tibbets. realized something was wrong and called 911. Krystal died the next day at Primary Children‘s Medical Center.

An autopsy revealed the victim suffered complete cardiac and pulmonary arrest “consistent with compressional asphyxia and blunt force applied to her abdomen.“ the complaint said.

Tibbets. who was Krystal ‘s foster parent before adopting the girl, was later arrested and released. Authorities said other foster children living at the Tibbetses‘ Midvale home were removed the day Krystal died.

Meanwhile. the debate continues about the holding technique. a relatively common behavioral-modificatlon practice widely accepted by some parent groups. It has been controversial since it was introduced 20 years ago in Colorado.

In holding therapy. a child is physically restrained while he or she is provoked to rage through jabbing. yelling. tickling or the hold itself. As the child becomes enraged. she is asked what is maling her angry. and that is supposed to release rage and overcome emotional problems deep-seated in the child's past.

The therapy is generally practiced on kids who have difficulty attaching to adults.

Critics. however. are leery of the aggressive therapy. saying it physically restrains a child against his or her will. They say it frightens children into compliant behavior, rather than resolving issues.

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