When babies first start walking, they run into things, fall down, and have a lot of bruises. But when 14-month-old Cassidy was covered in bruises and suddenly unable to put weight on her legs at all, her doctor knew it was more than typical toddler clumsiness. The doctor called us for advice, and we helped him make a report of suspected child abuse. Cassidy’s mom shared her concerns about how the babysitter handled things, and cooperated with the investigators from law enforcement and child welfare who came to her house. She said she would stay home to take care of Cassidy and wait for their appointment at the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Susan has worked as a Pediatric Forensic Examiner at the Center for nearly 15 years. In that time, she has seen thousands of children, provided hundreds of consultations on medical files and reports, and helped investigators stop some of the most heinous abuses towards children. So when she came to my office in tears, I knew it was going to be tough to listen.
She was the one who had talked with the pediatrician, so she knew about the case even before she scheduled an exam for Cassidy. The investigator called back an hour after scheduling the exam to cancel, because Cassidy and her mom were nowhere to be found. A neighbor heard Cassidy’s mom say she had to go out of town for an appointment. Susan and I were terrified for Cassidy and we decided that Susan should take advantage of her relationships in law enforcement and child welfare to get additional help finding her. After several hours on the phone with her contacts – just before they issued an Amber Alert – the police found Cassidy and her mom hiding at a friend’s house and DCS immediately took custody. We were incredibly relieved, because it meant she was going to be safe.
When Cassidy finally came to the Center (three days after the initial report), she was playful and giggly. Her foster mom only has sons, so she had bought adorable dresses and hair bows, and was clearly delighted to try and “spoil” this beautiful child. The really great news is that Cassidy did not have any broken bones and is now walking just fine. She still had several unexplained bruises, so she will remain in DCS custody and her foster mom will get to enjoy having another girl around the house.
This case is just one of many examples of the undeniable value of our medical team. When other medical professionals are unsure what they are seeing, they rely on our expertise. We also support them with training in how to identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect. Our hats are off to Cassidy’s pediatrician, who did not hesitate to make a necessary report. He is part of the team that brought her to safety.