exposing the dark side of adoption
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Pastor, wife charged with child neglect


JOHNSONBURG - The pastor of Cobb Street Baptist Church in Johnsonburg and his wife have been charged with starving their 9-year-old adopted daughter.

Criminal complaints were filed with District Judge David Engman of Kane March 12 against Mark Allen Hooper, 42, and Susan Aileen Hooper, 40, both of 21 Anderson St., Mt. Jewett, charging them with endangering the welfare of children.

The Hoopers allegedly withheld food from the girl, resulting in medical problems. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between May 1, 2011, and Feb. 11, 2013, when the girl ran away.

Kane-based state police Trooper Mary Gausman said the incident was brought to her attention by the McKean County Children's Advocacy Center.

When she and Children and Youth officials spoke to the child, she said Mark and Susan Hooper withheld food from her. The girl weighed about 31 pounds.

At that point, a temporary order was granted placing the girl in the custody of CYS.

The next day, a forensic interview was conducted with the girl. She spoke about her family history and daily routine.

She and her siblings were adopted by the Hoopers in 2007. They all are homeschooled by Susan Hooper and the girl said she's not allowed to eat until she gets her math right.

The girl said she also has to ask Susan Hooper to use the bathroom, and the request is denied. The affidavit of probable cause says, "JH then wets herself" and "I get spanked and don't get fed all day or breakfast the next day.

That happened "lots of times," the girl said.

The affidavit continues, "She ran away because she 'was tired of not getting dinner because of my math," and is "afraid of mom."

Following the interview, the girl was seen at Bradford Regional Medical Center and a follow-up exam was ordered with a pediatrician because of the girl's small stature.

She was seen by a pediatrician Feb. 13 and told a nurse she had never been to a doctor or had immunizations.

A physical exam showed the girl is shorter than an average 9-year-old and an abdominal ultrasound revealed an enlarged liver. She was referred to UPMC Children's Hospital and a bone age study was also ordered.

The girl was seen at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic Feb. 21.

The report from the doctor said her height and weight are significantly below the one-third percentile for her age, adding that she is as tall as a 5-year-old. She has an enlarged liver and tests showed her liver function is very elevated. She has lanugo (baby) hair, a swollen face and severe growth retardation.

The bone study revealed the girl's bone age to be "5 years 9 months, which is very delayed for her chronological age of 9 years 3 months." Lab work showed growth hormone deficiency is likely not the cause of her short stature.

The doctor's report concluded, "these lab results, along with JH's significantly delayed bone age and her physical exam findings, are indicative of malnutrition."

Bail for Mark and Susan Hooper was set at $25,000, straight, and was posted Tuesday.

They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing before Engman at 1 p.m. April 8.

2013 Mar 20