by Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News
Dr. Charles Sophy is the Medical Director for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Los Angeles County DCFS reportedly has the largest amount of children taken away from their families and put into foster homes of any other agency in the United States. Dr. Sophy reportedly earns a salary of over a quarter of a million dollars as the Medical Director of DCFS.
LA County DCFS Criticized by Former Supervisor as Not Protecting Children
Health Impact News has covered a lot of news regarding LA DCFS recently, including publishing an interview with a former DCFS social worker and supervisor, Melinda Murphy. (See: Former LA County Social Worker Reveals Corruption in Child “Protection” Services.) In that interview, when Melinda was asked why she left DCFS after ten years, she replied:
Because I had a conscience. I wanted to be able to sleep at night. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror.
When I went to work for them, I thought I’d be working for the children, I’d be working for the families, building on their strengths. I discovered no, what I am doing is I am working for the Department of Children and Family Services. I am a PR agent. I’m not protecting the children and the families. I am protecting the Department of Children and Family Services.
Melinda Murphy went on to describe LA County DCFS:
It’s doomsville… The system is not working. It’s a very sick system. It’s failed, it cannot heal itself.
Watch the entire interview here.
Children Under the Custody of LA County DCFS are Being Murdered and Sold Into Sex Trafficking
We also recently published an interview with Tammi Stefano, the Executive Director of The National Safe Child Coalition (NSCC) who was interviewed by filmmaker Sean Stone. (See: Child Sex Trafficking through Child “Protection” Services Exposed – Kidnapping Children for Sex.)
Stefano revealed some very gruesome details about LA County DCFS. She stated that her organization discovered that 1000 “convicted sex offenders” had been given a “green light” by CPS to become “approved foster parents” in Los Angeles County, a report which was also published in the Los Angeles Times.
Stefano goes on to talk about the horrific child sex trafficking problem in LA County DCFS:
What we are finding now is this trafficking is a lot bigger, and a lot more involved politically than we care to look at, or the media won’t cover. Everybody is afraid because there are some really big heavy hitters that are very influential that are involved.
Children have been sold, and there have been cases, where children have been sold up to 75 times in one day. 75 times in one day…. someone has abused this child.
The child trafficking industry, or human trafficking industry right now, makes more money than the illegal drug trade, and illegal arms trade, combined.
So children are definitely a commodity. They are a commodity to make money.
Watch the full interview here.
Medical Director of LA DCFS Testifies Under Oath
When California attorney Shawn McMillan uploaded a video of a deposition of Dr. Charles Sophy, the Medical Director for Los Angeles County DCFS, whom he deposed in a case he is currently litigating to his YouTube account, I took special interest to listen to the video and learn more about this medical director who is responsible for the lives of so many children in LA County.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy – The Psychiatric Diagnosis Used Against Parents to Remove Children from Their Home
At about the 7:30 mark in the video (full video below) McMillan begins to question Dr. Sophy about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a controversial psychiatric diagnosis that is used against parents often to justify removing children from the home by medical doctors. The diagnosis is often made when the parents disagree with doctors over medical care, and when the parents want to continue seeking out other medical advice, or second opinions, when doctors allegedly believe there are no medical conditions present.
In his testimony, Dr. Sophy admits that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSP) is a “very tough diagnosis to make, and it is not a very easy diagnosis to make.”
McMillan asks Dr. Sophy if there is an “empirical test” that one can do to determine if someone has Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Dr. Sophy replies: “Not a real black and white clinical test. It’s more by things not being present.”
Mcmillan then references two medical articles that state Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is an “exceedingly rare mental illness” affecting only 2 out of every 100,000, according to the two articles referenced. McMillan then asks:
And yet, don’t you tell us in your declaration that you have treated many patients, many families affected by Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?
Dr. Sophy then proceeds to clarify his written statement by saying:
That doesn’t mean I had direct contact with them. I was involved somehow in the case.
McMilllan then asks:
“You’re not necessarily meeting with the patient, looking at the patient, talking with the patient? You may just be involved somewhere over on the sidelines?” Dr. Sophy replies: “Correct.”
McMillan then asks:
“What qualifications does it take, legally, to be entitled to tag someone with that MSP moniker?” Dr. Sophy replies, “I do not know.”
Dr. Sophy also responds that he has been a doctor since 1982, and the Medical Director of LA DCFS since 2003, but he states he does not know what qualifications someone needs to legally tag a parent with the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy diagnosis that can result in the removal of their child from their custody.
At about the 18 minute mark in the video deposition, McMillan asks:
“So potentially any pediatric case you see could be a Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy case?” Dr. Sophy replies, “Could be.”
McMillan then asks if Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy could lead to the death of a child? Dr. Sophy replies,
“It can. But not very often.”
McMillan: “In fact it is exceedingly rare for a child to actually die as a result of a parent suffering from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, right?”
Sophy: “I don’t know for sure. But I would imagine, yes.”
McMillan: “What does the generally accepted and respected medical literature tell us?”
Sophy: “It’s rare.”
McMillan: “Exceedingly rare?”
Sophy: “Rare. Exceedingly rare.”
Dr. Sophy, The Hollywood Doctor Responsible for Tens of Thousands of Foster Care Children in LA County
At about the 16 and half minute mark of the video, McMillan asks Dr. Sophy what percentage of his income comes from his private practice, and how much comes from his position as Medical Director of the Los Angeles DCFS. Dr. Sophy replies that it is about 20% private practice, and 80% from his position at DCFS, but that he “really didn’t know.”
Dr. Sophy has made news before about his dual role as a private Hollywood doctor, and at the same time employed as the Medical Director of the Los Angeles DCFS. In 2011 the Los Angeles Times published an article written by Amy Kaufman and Garrett Therolf which stated that Dr. Sophy made $256,000 as the Medical Director of DCFS while still maintaining his private practice and appearing in reality TV shows such as “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” According to the article, some people “question his commitment to the $256,000 county post.” Read the full article here.
Dr. Sophy Testifies to How Much Training DCFS Workers Receive to Perform Their Jobs
At about the 23 and half minute mark in the deposition video, Shawn McMillan asks Dr. Sophy some questions about how he trains social workers in his duty as Medical Director of Los Angeles County DCFS.
Damage to Children When Removed from Home
McMillan: “Do you give training to your workers regarding the damage that can be done to a child’s brain when they are seized from their home?”
McMillan: “Tell me about that.”
Sophy: “What do you want to know?”
McMillan: “What kind of damage can be done to a child’s brain when they are seized from a parent’s home?”
Sophy: “What did you learn when you watched the video? It’s devastating.”
McMillan: “Ok, it is devastating when a child is removed from it’s parents home. And that’s whether there was abuse or not, correct?”
McMillan: “Period. What do you mean when you say it is devastating to the child?”
Sophy: “Well, it’s physically and emotionally devastating. From a physical perspective, it changes his brain; growth development.”
McMillan: “What sorts of changes?”
Sophy: “Neuronal changes. Neurons…”
McMillan: “Neuronal changes – I don’t know what that (means).”
Sophy: “You know, just the growth and development of the brain. The brain can be affected, when the child is removed from a home.”
McMillan: “Is that referenced somewhere in generally accepted medical literature?”
McMillan: “Ok, what are some of the articles I would look for?”
Sophy: “Mine. Harvard has done some studies. I think Yale has done some…”
Legal Issues on Entering a Home – Sophy Admits He does not Know the Law
Next, McMillan questions Dr. Sophy on the law regarding when a child should be removed from a home:
McMillan: “The law defines for us, and for you and for your social workers, the circumstances under which it is appropriate to seize a child from a home without first getting a court order, correct?”
McMillan: “Do you know what those circumstances are?”
Sophy: “Not off the top of my head.”
McMillan: “Based on your training and experience the last 12 years as the Medical Director with the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, is it appropriate to go out and seize a child without a court order, when we’re lacking sufficient information?”
Sophy: “I don’t have an opinion.”
McMillan: “You don’t know?”
Sophy: “I don’t have an opinion.”
McMillan: “Do you know what the training is that you give your social workers?”
Sophy nods his head yes…
McMillan: “In that regard.”
Sophy: “Generally yes, not specifically.”
McMillan: “Ok what is that general training? What do you tell your social workers about seizing a child without getting a warrant when they don’t have sufficient information?”
Sophy: “I’m not sure. Specifically.”
McMillan: “Well just generally. That’s all I am looking for.”
Sophy: “Well, I think that they need to have whatever it is they are told they need to have. If it is a checklist of information, or whatever it is they need, or they have to get approval from their supervisor. There is a chain of command or whatever that needs to be in place in order to do it.”
McMillan: “Ok, and what is the nature of the information that they need to be in possession of before they seize a child without first obtaining a warrant?”
Sophy: “Well again, if I knew I would tell you. You are asking me for specifics – I really don’t know them.”
McMillan: “Are you aware of whether or not the law specifically defines the type of information a social worker must have before they can seize a child without first obtaining a warrant?”
Sophy: “I do not.”
No Apparent Training of Social Workers on Constitutional Rights of Children and Families
McMillan: “Let me see if I can help you. Turn to the second page of exhibit number 7. And it says there a social worker’s duty includes protecting Constitutional rights of children and families. That is the title of the slide there. Did I read that right?”
McMillan: “Have you ever heard or learned that concept during your 12 years as Medical Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services?”
Sophy: “I’ve heard of it. Not in necessarily these words, but yes.”
McMillan: “Have you ever offered any training to your workers in the last 12 years regarding this concept of their duty to protect the Constitutional rights of children and families?”
McMillan: “Have you ever heard of anybody in your entire 12 years with the agency… have you ever heard of anybody offering training on this concept that a social worker’s duty includes protecting the Constitutional rights of children and families?”
Sophy: “Not to my knowledge.”
At about the 31:18 minute mark in the deposition video McMillan continues on the issue of Constitutional rights:
McMillan: “When we’re talking about the Constitutional rights of parents and children, one of those rights… well, maybe you don’t know. Do you know whether or not one of those rights includes the right not to be seized from the child’s home… unless there is a warrant, or some other circumstance that justifies it?”
Sophy: “I don’t know.”
McMillan: “You don’t know? And you never ascertained that knowledge in your 12 years as the medical director of the agency?”
Sophy: “Not to my knowledge.”
McMillan: “Well if we look at this particular slide, it sort of answers the question. It tells us a ‘CSW will always need to determine if she/he needs a warrant or court order.’ Have you been privy to any training where this concept was taught to your social workers?”
McMillan then moves on to another exhibit of written material in the deposition at about the 33:45 mark.
McMillan: “It says when a court order is required.., a CSW (pauses to clarify that “CSW” means “Children’s Social Worker”) must always obtain an order PRIOR to: 1. Entering or inspecting a home, 2. Interviewing a child, 3. Conducting a visual inspection of the child, 4. Obtain a medical exam of a child, or 5. Removing a child from a parent or legal guardian’s custody. Just looking at this as a psychiatrist, do you have any understanding what the significance of putting “prior” in all caps bold would be? Why would we do that?
Sophy: “Maybe the typewriter was broken?”
McMillan: “Would we do it to draw emphasis?”
McMillan: “And the reason we do something like that to draw emphasis is because it is an important concept?”
McMillan: “How long does it take to get a warrant in Los Angeles County?”
Sophy: “I don’t know.”
McMillan: “Now, looking at the slide that is in front of you …. It tells us that exigent circumstances must exist if we’re going to seize a child without getting a warrant, right?”
At about the 53 minute mark in the deposition video, McMillan returns to the issue of “exigent circumstances.”
McMillan: “Turn to page 33 of exhibit 7. This one is really cool. Because it actually defines for us….if you recall earlier in your testimony, you were unable to define for me what was meant by the phrase ‘exigent circumstances’… this page 33, you see at the bottom there, it cites a case, Wallace vs. Spencer, 9th Circuit 2000… And I’ll represent to you that that date there, 2000, that is the date at which the law, in regard to exigent circumstances, was made perfectly clear to everyone residing in the 9th Circuit. That being said, the slide is titled: Exigent Circumstances Federal Definition. CSW can act without a warrant/court order if CSW has reasonable cause to believe child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury and the scope of CSW’s intrusion is reasonably necessary to prevent that specific injury.”
McMillan: “What specific injury was it that the social workers were seeking to prevent by seizing this child (in the case in question) on November 3rd at the end of the team decision?
Sophy: “I have no opinion.”
Watch the entire highlight video of the deposition of Dr. Charles Sophy, the Medical Director for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, by attorney Shawn McMillan:
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