by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
The Headley boys of South Carolina aren’t coming home any time soon, according to a recent hearing in family court. While their parents, William and Danielle, continue to fight to get them back, the family says that the boys are suffering in CPS custody. They are currently being held in a group home, and the parenting of their children by the government is quite concerning to the family. The children are reportedly being forced to have vaccines that they have medical exemptions for, are losing weight, are being sexually abused, and are showing up to visits with bruises.
The state is also reportedly ignoring evidence that would clear the parents.
Danielle Headley still faces criminal charges of child abuse and neglect, but no trial date has been set. Greenville Memorial Hospital and Child Abuse Specialist Nancy Henderson have accused her of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or medical child abuse, after the Headley’s youngest son Jack, now 4, was in and out of the hospital for much of his life.
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The family received documents last week summarizing the findings of the family court, and there are a number of things that are concerning to the family, things which should be concerning to every family in America with children.
Experts Testifying for Parents Ignored
Forensic expert and licensed counselor, Cindy B. Stichnoth, MEd, LPC, testified that Danielle does not suffer from Munchausen or medical child abuse. She:
“also testified that having a youngest child suffer child abuse by medical abuse is very uncommon when the other children presented with no illnesses.”
According to family court documents, the court chose to ignore her testimony, stating that they:
“gave little, if any, weight to the testimony of Cindy B. Stichnoth.”
The family states that this is just one example of the court ignoring any evidence that would exonerate them. The testimony of the Child Abuse Specialist, however, was given great weight. Yet she only came into the picture after the Headleys questioned their son’s care at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Child Abuse Specialist Called After Parents Question Care
As previously reported, William and Danielle had concerns about the care that Jack was receiving at Greenville. The family had been in and out of the hospital with Jack for most of his life. The list of illnesses diagnosed by doctors include Short-Chain Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase (SCAD) deficiency, a condition that prevents the body from converting certain fats into energy, gastroparesis, asthma, primary immunodeficiency disease, reactive airway disease, hypotonia and FTT (Failure to Thrive). Medical testing has confirmed these conditions.
In July 2014, doctors inserted a G-tube, a feeding tube that sends nutrition directly into his stomach. A year later, on June 11, 2015, doctors decided to change the feeding tube to a J-tube, which feeds into the jejunem, part of the small intestine, because Jack had been suffering from a stomach virus and vomiting. This was to give his stomach the chance to heal.
The procedure took longer than usual, reports the family. When Dr. Avant came out to speak with the family, he reportedly told them that the reason it took longer was that Jack “wouldn’t sedate easily,” and was kicking and screaming during the procedure, so they kept giving him more medicine. He cautioned them that Jack’s tummy might be a bit sore.
During the next week at the hospital, the family says that every time anyone tried to clean the feeding tube site, he was kicking and screaming and would have to be held down. Before this surgery that apparently began before he was fully sedated, he never fought any caregivers when they tended to the tube site.
After previous surgeries, he didn’t have problems, but this time, the drainage was “really bad,” and Jack’s stomach was swollen and tender.
It was after a week of watching their child suffer and fight that the Headleys began asking to go to a different hospital for care. This was June 19. William Headley told staff that he wanted to speak to the CEO of the hospital. That didn’t happen, and other staff allegedly tried to placate them.
Unbeknownst to the Headleys, that was the day that the staff called Dr. Nancy Henderson, the Child Abuse specialist. The family later saw the date of Dr. Henderson’s first notification and realized that it was the same day that they started asking for a 2nd opinion because they were concerned about the quality of Jack’s care there.
It was shortly after this that DSS (Department of Social Services) – South Carolina’s Child Protective System, came into their lives and took all of their children. This was in July 2015.
Toxic Mold Found in Home After Children Were Taken
Both Jack and his mother have suffered from numerous medical conditions which have been well-documented. Recently, they have learned that Danielle has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – a multi-faceted genetic illness which can lead to a myriad of medical issues. Because his mother has it, chances are high that Jack has it as well.
Another culprit was found just a few months after the boys were taken – mold.
There had been some very heavy rains that October, and the Headleys began to see black mold seeping through the ceiling. The environmental specialist they hired to test the mold and air quality was only in their house a few minutes before he developed a headache and went back outside to get a mask.
He removed a piece of the wall and discovered that the area behind the was was filled with black mold.
The Headley’s had replaced their roof 6 years prior, but didn’t realize that it wasn’t done properly, and that rain had been leaking in above the ceiling and behind the walls for the entire time. Samples of the mold were sent off for testing, and 3 different toxic strains were found: stachybotrys chartarum, penicillium, and aspergillus.
When William Headley asked what he could do about it, the specialist said, “Move.” It was really bad.
The Headleys moved into a new home in January.
Social workers have noted an improvement in Jack’s symptoms since he was removed from his parents. According to American Academy of Pediatrics policy, this is a sure sign that there is Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
The more logical explanation is that Jack was removed from the home with the toxic mold. Because of his already compromised physical health, the mold impacted him more severely.
The court did not accept that possibility, based on the testimony of Dr. Robin Go, allergist/immunologist. According to court records:
“Dr. Go testified that some people try to claim that stachybotrys has caused them a variety of symptoms including fatigue, loss of weight, cancer, muscle weakness, and headaches. However, Dr. Go testified that those are not currently accepted because medical evidence shows those are not accepted claims.”
However, according to research by the National Institute of Health, which examined the available studies to date on this subject, “significant methodological flaws” in the studies render the results of the studies inconclusive. Despite Dr. Go’s testimony to the contrary, the research does not dismiss the claims of connections between stachybotrys mold and health conditions, but rather it states that more research is needed, with better methodology in the studies.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states on its website that the stachybotrys mold “may cause health symptoms that are nonspecific.” The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) reports that “allergic reactions to mold are common.”
The World Health Organization says:
“There is clinical evidence that exposure to mould and other dampness-related microbial agents increases the risks of rare conditions, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Toxicological evidence obtained in vivo and in vitro supports these findings, showing the occurrence of diverse inflammatory and toxic responses after exposure to microorganisms – including their spores, metabolites and components – isolated from damp buildings.”
There is a myriad of evidence, dating back to ancient Biblical times, that some molds, particularly stachybotrys, can have a severe detrimental effect on health. Yet, Dr. Go and the family court have dismissed those concerns, instead accusing a loving mother of Munchausen syndrome by proxy rather than consider the very real possibility that a likely culprit for at least some of Jack’s problems are black mold, which was stealthily growing behind the wall of the Headley home for the entirety of Jack’s life and his mother’s pregnancy with him.
Danielle Called “Bad Mother” for Son Using Pacifier
Danielle has been vilified by DSS and the Child Abuse Specialist for allowing her son to have the comfort of his pacifier and for holding him at doctors’ visits. According to court documents,
“Medical providers testified at trial that given the age of Jack, that he was being held by his Mother almost every visit, and that he always had a pacifier in his mouth (even when he was almost 4 years old), as medical providers they had to rely on the information provided to them by Mother.”
The court was told that Jack could not walk or talk, based on the doctors’ observations. The family points out that the doctors saw Jack, not when he was healthy and running around, but when he was sick, and just wanted to be held by his mommy. Because of his history of illness, his family never pushed the issue of making him get rid of his pacifier. It clearly was a comfort to their child.
DSS wanted to take that away. On the day that Officer Tracy Moss took the children away from their home, Moss refused to let Jack take his pacifier or his blanket. On the day that his life was being ripped apart by DSS, the agency officials allegedly denied him the very objects that brought him comfort. Despite their accusations, Jack was given a new pacifier at the hospital, suggesting that it is OK for the state to do it, just not parents.
Jack’s speech therapist reportedly told the family that he had low muscle tone, so the pacifier was actually good, because sucking on it strengthens the muscles in his mouth.
The State Is a Poor Substitute for Loving Parents
The family has reported a number of issues in the government care of the Headley boys – instances which demonstrate that the state is an inferior substitute for parents.
Health Impact News reported in October on MedicalKidnap.com that Jack went missing while in state care. This never happened while the children were in their parents’ custody. Since that time, Jack was moved out of the foster home and into a group home facility with his older brothers.
South Carolina Medically Kidnapped 4 Year Old Went Missing From Foster Care, Found After Police Search
During the family court proceedings, GAL Jean Bradley testified that the children are doing well in their current placement. The family is not so sure.
Car Seats – The Headleys are big car seat safety advocates. They have been horrified when the younger boys have arrived at visits without being in any car seat at all. Jack is 4 and Gabe is 6. The group home where DSS has placed them is an hour and a half to two hours drive away from the place where visitation with the parents occurs. When Jack has been in a car seat, the family reports, it has just been a backless booster seat. A couple of weeks ago, they were not in any type of car seat when they arrived at the visit. The parents reportedly put their feet down and insisted that CPS find car seats for the younger boys before they returned to the group home.
South Carolina law requires that children up to 40 lbs be in a car seat, not a booster seat. Car seat manufacturers and safety experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics have even stricter recommendations. These safer recommendations are what the Headleys have always gone by.
Until DSS took the children, Jack was still rear-facing in a top-of-the-line convertible car seat. The Chicco Nextfit recommends keeping children rear-facing until they reach 40 lbs, and Jack only weighs around 32 lbs. Gabe was still in a 5-point safety harness, per recommendations. The Headleys have chosen to go above and beyond car seat standards to ensure the safety of their children. Since the state took over, they are sometimes not even in any car seat.
Braces – Shriners Hospital prescribed and made braces for his legs. They have told the Headleys that, if Jack doesn’t wear them to correct his legs, he will need surgery in the future. Jack’s state caregivers do not put his braces on him.
Therapy – Jack, Conner, and Gabe have had developmental delays for which their parents had them in therapy. According to the medical records, the therapist have been trying to reach DSS for months because the boys are not in therapy. DSS has not returned any of their calls.
Jack is getting thinner in state care – Despite the fact that the state has tried to use weight issues against Danielle Headley, Jack is now thinner than he was when the state took over custody. When he was taken from his family, he was wearing 4T pants. In December, the Headley’s brought some 4T skinny jeans with adjustable waist, because the 4Ts were “falling off of him.” Now, he needs a 3T.
Vulgar language – Jack has reportedly picked up a foul mouth since being in the group home under the government’s care.
Forced Vaccines – All of the Headley children have vaccine exemptions for medical and religious reasons, including reactions to the vaccinations. Recently, their oldest son, Conner, told his parents that he got a flu shot. When confronted, the social worker denied it.
Black eye – Conner showed up at a November visit with a black eye, but his father said that he acted afraid to tell him what happened. After he “glanced nervously at the social worker,” he said he ran into a pole at school. His dad is not buying it. “No way” is that the explanation, he said.
Sexual Abuse Called “Normal Teenage Boy Behavior”
The Headleys’ attorney has had to fight to get their children’s records of their care. They were alarmed at something that they found in the DSS records.
Conner was originally placed in a cottage at the group home with his younger brothers, but he was later moved to a cottage with older boys. After the transfer, according to the report, the older boys basically blackmailed Conner to expose himself to them, or else they would beat him up.
He is mildly autistic and doesn’t have a strong self-protective mechanism, according to his family, and he was scared. So he complied.
He later had the courage to report the event to someone at the group home, and that person in turn contacted the social worker. Allegedly, nothing was done about the incident, and Conner has not been moved.
The children’s DSS attorney Katheryn Gooch reportedly told the parents that this was a “normal friendly gesture” by the older boys in the group home, and that it was “no big deal.” She said that this was normal teenage boy behavior.
Nothing like this ever happened to their boys under their parents’ care, and the family is concerned about this kind of behavior in state care being swept under the rug. The DSS supervisor reportedly told the family not to bring the incident up or to talk to Conner about it.
Mother withheld from Visiting her Young Son for Months Now
Danielle has not seen Jack since he was taken from her arms last summer. The court has ruled that she cannot see Jack, even under supervision, until after her criminal case is over. No date has been set for that hearing. The attachment between a mother and her youngest son is completely being ignored.
William is permitted to visit with all 4 boys twice a month for a 30 minute visit. Then, Jack is escorted out of the room where he waits by himself, while his mother is allowed to visit with the 3 older boys for 30 minutes. William is not permitted to spend that time with his youngest son, who cries because he has figured out that he is the only one who doesn’t get to see his mom.
Is This All About the Funding?
In a recent meeting with the social worker, William Headley asked if his children could be placed back on his medical insurance that he has with his job. DSS has them on Medicaid currently. The social worker reportedly told him that they had to keep them on Medicaid so that they can continue getting their state funding.
During her explanation of the court documents, the social worker used expressions like “DSS is going to retain retention of the children,” “reasonable efforts have been made,” and “continuation of children in the home will be contrary to their welfare.” She explained the department’s use of such wording:
“These kinds of things are to help the kids keep the funding that they get through Medicaid and stuff. If it’s not worded a certain way, they can’t get funding.”
She is likely referring to the federal Title IV-E funding that state CPS departments bring into the state coffers by taking children into the foster care system.
How You Can Help
Supporters have set up a Facebook group that other supporters are welcome to join called Reunite the Headley Family.
The Senator for the Headley’s district is Glenn Reese at 864-592-2984. He may be contacted here.
Representative Harold Mitchell Jr. represents their district in Spartanburg at 803-734-6638. He may be contacted here.
Spartanburg County Department Social Services – Danielle Bowles at 864-426-3610. Contact their office here.
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