Erin This is the shot from the Whidbey Island Bridge ( Point Deception) This is about an hour before he spiked the temp

This photo of the Daugherty family was taken on the Whidbey Island Bridge in Washington while the family was on vacation. Photo supplied by family.

by Health Impact News/ Staff

When the Daugherty family decided to visit Seattle, Washington, for a 4 day whale watching trip to celebrate their son’s 10th birthday, they had no idea that a trip to the emergency room would turn into a nightmare that would rip their family apart.

They were more than a thousand miles from home and from their own doctors, when chronically ill Zachary began running a fever and showing signs of an infection.

When his parents took him to the emergency room at Seattle Children’s Hospital, they blindly walked into a web of controversy involving some of the most notorious Child Abuse Specialist doctors in the country, with connections to Medical Kidnap stories we have published spanning from Boston to Arizona, California, and Washington.

California parents Kevin and Erin Daugherty learned that the conflict between Boston area doctors involved with the notorious Justina Pelletier case didn’t stay in Boston. It has spread all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast of America. Their son Zachary has been caught in the crossfire of differing philosophies of different doctors.

There is a dangerous trend occurring today involving parents with children with multiple medical issues (“medically complex”) or children with mysterious conditions that doctors haven’t figured out how to diagnose yet.

While the concerned parents often have to search for doctors with the expertise to help their children, that very concern is used to accuse them of “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy” or “Factious Disorder,” or the more common term now used in child social services – “Medical Child Abuse” – a general all-purpose term used by doctors in the relatively new field of Child Abuse Specialists when parents dare to disagree with them.

Parents versus Doctors – The Fight for America’s Children

Parents of these medically complex children are increasingly finding themselves caught up in the middle of the conflict that they had no part in creating.

On the one side are doctors who specialize in medically complex children like Zachary and Justina. Zachary was diagnosed by doctors from home with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), as well as other medical conditions. About a month before their trip to Seattle, his GI doctor referred him to be evaluated for Mitochondrial disease.

medical child abuse book

Image via

On the other side are a group of doctors known as “Child Abuse Specialists,” including a husband and wife team who literally wrote the book on “medical child abuse.” Dr. Thomas A. Roesler, psychiatrist, and Dr. Carole Jenny, Child Abuse Pediatrician, authored “Medical Child Abuse: Beyond Munchausen by Proxy,” while they worked at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

They were involved in training Child Abuse doctors in the northeast, including those at Boston Children’s Hospital involved with the medical kidnapping of Justina Pelletier. The duo are now on staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Jenny heads the Child Abuse Fellowship.

We have seen over and over in many Medical Kidnap stories that social workers and courts tend to listen to the Child Abuse Specialists, while at the same time they ignore or attempt to discredit medical experts who testify that the children involved have genuine medical conditions.

Innocent families are ripped apart in the process.

That scenario is reported to be currently occurring with the Daugherty family. Erin says:

We were just there to see the whales!

Vacation Turns into a Nightmare

They were a loving, adventurous homeschooling family from Orange County, California. They were involved with Boy Scouts, American Heritage Girls, summer camp, and their church. Erin Daugherty, a nurse by trade, worked at the summer camp that the kids attended each year.

Erin kids in superhero costumes

Zoe and Zachary having fun as superheroes. Photo supplied by family.

They were an active part of the Ehlers-Danlos community. Zachary, his older sister Zoe, and their mother Erin all have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an inherited connective tissue disorder.

Despite medical challenges, they loved to travel, explore, and learn. Parents Erin and Kevin took their family to the Seattle area in March 2017 to celebrate Zachary’s 10th birthday with a surprise whale-watching trip.

After a full day of playing on Whidbey Island, Zachary began running a fever and acted tired. When they got back to the mainland, his parents gave him Tylenol as well as his normal dose of Enalapril, an ACE inhibitor used for high blood pressure.

He quickly got worse and said he was very hot. (It was 30 degrees outside and snowing and raining.) When he said he couldn’t get enough air, and that “the octopus is grabbing my throat again,” his parents knew that he was in trouble. They called 911 and got him to the nearest emergency room.

That was Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The emergency room doctors consulted with Zachary’s doctors from Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, who explained that he was having an anaphylactoid reaction. They confirmed that Zachary has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). One of the symptoms of MCAS is anaphylaxis.

They later realized that he had developed an allergic reaction to the Enalapril. He was also evaluated for a possible infection to his central IV line.

Zachary was admitted to the hospital on March 5.

His temperature was under control until sometime during the next day. The Daughertys asked for him to be given Tylenol when they saw his temperature rising and his hands flushing.

They could see that he was heading for a mast cell crisis if they did not get the fever under control. His condition deteriorated and finally Erin insisted that they treat her son’s fever before his condition got worse. She was finally given permission to give him a dose of Tylenol.

At another point, Zachary was very “itchy,” which was, again, a manifestation of the MCAS. Doctors reportedly ignored his discomfort for much of the day while his mother begged for them to give him some Benadryl.

Medical reports show that Erin was simply following medical protocols that she had been given by Zachary’s care team back home for the conditions with which he had been diagnosed.

At one point, doctors in Seattle decided that the central IV line needed to come out, necessitating a surgical procedure.

Erin Zach painting pumpkins

Zach painting pumpkins. Photo supplied by family.

Conflicting Medical Opinions Among Doctors Leads to Medical Kidnapping?

During the course of discussion about the surgery, Erin mentioned that one of her son’s doctors back home had recently referred him to Dr. Richard Boles, a recognized Mitochondrial expert, to be evaluated for Mitochondrial Disease.

Erin reports that it was at this point that the tone at the hospital seemed to change.

They were just parents wanting good care for their child. They didn’t realize they had walked into the middle of a hornet’s nest. They had no idea that there was a history of conflict between doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital, particularly the leader of the Child Abuse team, and Dr. Boles. The Daughertys had never met any of them.

It was only later that Erin says that she learned that:

Dr. Boles has history with both Medical Child Abuse Cases and Seattle Children’s hospital’s accusations.

When Erin spoke with Dr. Boles’ staff, they reportedly told her that:

he has testified dozens of times in Medical Child Abuse cases that stem from Seattle Children’s.

Dr. Richard Boles serves on the board of as Medical Advisor. He is the director of the Metabolic and Mitochondrial Disorders Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Maxine Eichner is a law professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has a B.A. (magna cum laude) from Yale University, a J.D. from Yale University, an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Law, and writes on issues at the intersection of law and political theory, focusing particularly on family relationships and social welfare law and policy.

Dr. Eichner wrote about Medical Child Abuse in an article entitled, “The New Child Abuse Panic,” published in the New York Times. Of Dr. Boles, she says:

Dr. Richard G. Boles, a mitochondrial disease specialist who has worked on some 100 cases involving suspected medical child abuse, said that only about five fit the classic Munchausen situation and should be considered abuse.

Of the rest, he says, about two-thirds involved a demanding mother who got on a doctor’s nerves; the remainder involved a parent who was too anxious in dealing with doctors who couldn’t give adequate answers.

Yet, the terms “medical child abuse” and “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy” seem to be thrown around quite a bit when a medically complex child is involved (or there is evidence of medical malpractice or evidence of a vaccine injury).

Who Are These Child Abuse Doctors?

The head of Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Child Abuse Fellowship is Dr. Carole Jenny. She and her psychiatrist husband and co-author of her book, Dr. Thomas Roesler, moved to Seattle in 2014 from Providence, Rhode Island. They both did their residencies at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, another hospital known for medical kidnappings and their Child Abuse Specialist doctors.


Dr. Carole Jenny. Photo source.

Dr. Jenny is part of the Helfer Society – an elite group of doctors involved with Child Abuse. She won the Helfer Society’s Award in 2004. Per their website:

The Helfer Award is given annually to the member of the Society who has made significant contributions to the field of Child Abuse Pediatrics.

The list of recipients contains several names that have come up repeatedly in our research of Medical Kidnap articles. It seems that a small group of people have acquired a great deal of power over the lives of American families as they impact policy, philosophy, and judicial decisions. See the list here.

The Helfer Society recounts Dr. Jenny’s accolades:

Dr. Jenny is a Professor of Pediatrics at Brown University School of Medicine.  She graduated from University of Missouri, Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Washington School of Medicine.

She did her pediatric residency at the University of Colorado Affiliated Hospitals and at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  She was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and received an MBA in Health Care from the Wharton School.

Before coming to Providence, she has served on the faculties of the University of Washington and the University of Colorado.

She directs the Child Protection Program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island.  The program offers medical consultation, evaluation and treatment services for children with suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, failure to thrive, psychological abuse, neglect, medical neglect, and factitious illness.

Dr. Jenny is past-Chair of the Section on Child Abuse and Neglect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and currently serves as the Chair of the Academy’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Her research interests include abusive head trauma, Internet child exploitation, and medical child abuse. She is a researcher at the Biomechanics Laboratory of the Aprica Childcare Institute, Nara, Japan.

In “The Controversial Child Abuse Epidemic Tearing Families Apart,” journalist Jody Allard writes that:

the pioneers of the medical child abuse umbrella, including Dr. Jenny (now on the Seattle Children’s child abuse team), are the same doctors responsible for shaken baby syndrome epidemic, now largely discredited, and before that, the satanic sex abuse panic of the 1980s.

According to Dr. Maxine Eichner:

In both panics, experts saw foul play where none existed, government officials took their views at face value, and people were wrongly convicted and imprisoned, their lives ruined. Medical child abuse is causing similar harm.

[T]he central reason given by these doctors that medical child abuse is better than Munchausen’s by Proxy is that it’s diagnosed much more frequently. For them, that’s a virtue. For everyone but this particular group, this should be horrifying. (Source.)

Even though Child Abuse Specialists are not specialists in neurology, orthopedics, radiology, genetics, or even more specific fields such as Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome or Mitochodrial disease, they often openly disregard the medical expertise of doctors who are noted as experts in their fields because, much like a narcissist with delusions of grandeur, they believe that they have the special ability to see child abuse that no one else is clever enough to find.

See Also:

Are New Pediatric “Child Abuse Specialists” Causing an Increase in Medical Kidnappings?

Child Abuse Pediatricians: An “Ethically Bankrupt” Profession that Destroys Families

Connections to Arizona and California

Another name familiar to some families who are victims of medical kidnapping in Arizona and southern California is Brenda Bursch. She also testified in the Justina Pelletier case.

According to the “Acknowledgements” section of Dr. Jenny and Dr. Roesler’s book on medical child abuse, Bursch made quite an impression on them.

Brenda Bursch accolades from Medical Child Abuse book

Bursch has played a significant role in several Medical Kidnap families losing their children in Arizona and California, including Leanna Smith, Melissa Diegel, and Jewels Stein.


Leanna Smith filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Arizona for the removal of her daughters. The lawsuit implicated Arizona DCS of using false testimony from psychologists employed by the department:

The key to this complaint is the act of Dr. Brenda Bursch (“Bursch”) and Marina Greco (“Greco”), a licensed therapist who intentionally and knowingly practiced medicine without a license. They did so pursuant to a conspiracy to manipulate a child in CPS care and custody and were aided and abetted by Bonnie Brown, CPS Supervisor , Tammy MacAlpine, CPS Case worker, Katrina Buwalda, a licensed psychologist in Arizona. (Story here.)

She wrote that Bursch played a significant role in the loss of her daughters:

Brenda Bursch, PhD – “Professional Testifier”

So how are the courts successfully keeping these children?

In some cases, they hire professional testifiers like Brenda Bursch, who gets paid $200 an hour to testify on the stand. She is contracted by different states, (in her case 5 different states). She has been practicing for over 20 years, and has been working with CPS since the early 1990s. She now gets paid to professionally and falsely testify against the parents.

Brenda Burch has a PhD in psychology. She testifies against the medical records she has reviewed, but she is NOT a licensed medical doctor. Also, in most cases, she has NEVER MET the children or the accused parent IN PERSON until the day of the trial, yet testifies as to their supposed diagnosis on the stand.

Her specialty is MBP. She boldly claims that a parent should never be able see their child again because the parent has made the child ill. In seemingly all her cases, she claims the parents suffer from “Munchhausen by Proxy/ Factitious Disorder,” yet she has never spoken to the parent or child in almost all her cases.

It is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen. Brenda Bursch has been involved in at least 9 MBP Arizona cases and was brought up on charges of practicing medicine in Arizona without a license. She has also been involved in multiple clinical research trials. (Story here.)

Tammi Stefano interviewed Jewels Stein, a paramedic and film producer in LA, about the medical kidnapping of her daughter and learned that Bursch played a prominent role in her case as well. (Story here). Tammi says that:

There was covert recording of attorneys speaking about this Dr. Brenda Bursch and they said she was the hired gun for the state and they were laughing about it.

Jewels told her:

There is a person at UCLA and I’ve since heard that UCLA has made a habit of looking at these cases predominantly because they have a doctor there named Doctor Brenda Bursch, who is also the doctor who testified in Justina Pellitier’s case, who has written books on Fictitious Disorder and has made a habit of going after parents….

She is the expert witness against the parents when it comes to Munchausen or Fictitious Disorder….

Once you are branded with this Munchausen by proxy or Fictitious Disorder, which is what they say in the juvenile court system, you are guilty until proven innocent. I told my public defender, how do you prove innocence from something that is fictitious? It is fictitious in every way, it’s not just fictitious disorder, it is made up and it’s basically a witch hunt against parents who give doctors problems. I’ve even seen on the internet that doctors can negate a malpractice suit by saying a parent has Munchausen by proxy.

Zachary Medically Kidnapped

Against the backdrop of all of this, the Daughertys found themselves in a hospital room at Seattle Children’s Hospital, fighting enormous forces that they could neither see nor fight effectively. They could not have known what they were up against.

A resident doctor wrote orders that said that Erin was no longer allowed to participate in any direct care of her own son.

The SCAN team, “Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect,” was notified, and it wasn’t long before Erin, a devoted mother of a child with complex medical issues, was accused of medical child abuse and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Washington Child Protective Services seized custody of Zachary Daugherty on March 21, 2017.

He remained in Seattle from March 5 to March 29, and the hospital billed the family’s insurance for the hospital stay, citing that he needed to be there for a 14 day round of antibiotics.

Interestingly, the insurance company has refused to pay for the hospital stay from March 10 to 29 because they said that he did not need to be hospitalized for the antibiotics. They said that they could have safely been administered at home.

Erin insurance denied payment cropped

The hospital alleges that Zachary had septic shock and severe sepsis (a blood infection); however, nothing in the medical records shows that. The diagnosis was reportedly added by the Child Abuse doctors weeks after Zachary’s hospital admission.

Their case was moved to their home state of California, and Zachary’s care was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) in Los Angeles, not the Children’s Hospital LA, where his doctors are.

Child Abuse doctors Dr. Rebecca Wiester and Dr. Ken Feldman from Seattle Children’s Hospital never spoke with any of the family, and they never examined Zachary. Yet they told CPS, law enforcement, and Child Abuse doctors in California that there was no evidence of the diagnoses of Zachary’s medical conditions.

The social workers and Child Abuse doctors in California allegedly simply took the word of the Seattle doctors, never actually examining any past medical records or the children.

Erin Zoe hypermobile

There is no doubt that Zoe is hypermobile – one of the classic signs of one form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Photo provided by family.

Child Abuse doctors Dr. Van Greco of University of California Irvine (UCI) and Dr. Daphne Wong of Children’s Hospital of Orange County have reportedly simply recycled the allegations made by the Seattle team.

According to Child Abuse doctors, one of the “sure signs” that the mother was causing the symptoms is that the symptoms resolve after the “parent-ectomy” (removal of the parent).

To be sure, there were a few of Zachary’s symptoms that resolved, but that was because they were able to identify that the blood pressure medicine Enalapril was causing an allergic reaction. That medication was stopped shortly after his hospital admission. The family realized that he had been experiencing side effects of the medication all along.

Virtually all of his other medications have been added back in and other doctors have reaffirmed his diagnoses.

California CPS Seizes Custody of BOTH Children, Forces Them into Public School

After the case was transferred to California, Orange County CPS seized custody of Zachary’s sister Zoe as well.

Based on the Seattle report, the homeschooled children were forced to go into public school, even though the children’s grandmother volunteered to homeschool them.

The only silver lining in their story is that the children have been allowed to remain with their father. However, he is not permitted to make medical or educational decisions for his children, and Erin was forced to move out of her home. The once happy, loving Christian family is forced to violate their religious beliefs and live separated from each other.

According to one document:

Medical personnel have opined that, as the child Zachary has spent his life being portrayed as a sick child, he has been deprived of normal childhood activities, school, and social interactions.

This portrayal is not the experience of those who know the Daugherty family. They were a very active homeschool family. The parents went out of their way to provide many opportunities for social activities and events. There is ample photographic evidence of such on the family’s social media.

Erin kids at Universal Studios

Zachary and Zoe at Universal Studios. Photo provided by family.

Forced Psych Evaluation of Mother

Erin is accused of making up Zachary’s illnesses, even though many medical records support his diagnoses. Child Abuse Specialists have alleged that Erin somehow managed to convince doctors to put their reputations on the line by diagnosing him based on things that she has said instead of objective data.

Judge Gary Moorhead has reportedly ordered Erin to undergo a psychological evaluation, but social workers have suppressed any medical records that don’t support their allegations. Just as with Zachary’s records, they have, as one doctor termed it, “cherry picked” what documents to show the court.

More than a decade ago, Erin was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after she underwent surgery. Because of her medical condition, her body did not respond to the anesthesia and she felt the pain of the surgery while it happened.

It seems cruel to some to hold against her that she was traumatized by that experience.

Report from Expert Doctor Suppressed

The Daugherty’s had a court hearing on February 14, 2018. They learned that the social workers reported to the court that a medical report and letter from Dr. Pradeep Chopra should not be admitted for 2 reasons.

First, they allege that Dr. Chopra is not a qualified expert in Ehlers-Danlos. However, he is considered one of the top experts in the condition. (See link.) The Harvard graduate has an extremely impressive resume, and he is the director of the Pain Management Center of Rhode Island. He has examined Zachary and reviewed his medical records. In so doing, he confirms the previous diagnoses that Erin told the Seattle doctors about.

Unlike the Child Abuse doctors, he has specialized training and is truly an expert in the conditions that Zachary has.

The other allegation is that Erin has managed to somehow intercept the letter and medical report and that it did not truly come from Dr. Chopra. A report stating such was submitted to the court, despite the fact that Dr. Chopra emailed the letter and report directly to social worker Margaret Vanck.

This mirrors the experience suffered by many victims of Child Abuse Specialists. Courts may have testimony and reports from a dozen or more medical experts in the fields at issue, yet the reports that they attend to are often only the biased and prejudicial reports from the Child Abuse doctors.

Children are the Ones who Suffer From Lack of Care When Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Allegations Arise

Erin only gets to see her children for 4 hours a week. She told us:

The worst part is that the children have been unable to receive the therapies and treatments needed to help manage Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. They have physical therapy ordered but are refused by the child abuse physician to follow any order regarding the diagnosis.

The children are reportedly afraid to talk about their pain or symptoms. Because of the doctors’ accusations of their mother, they are the ones paying the price. Not only have they been torn apart from their beloved mother, but they cannot get the help for their conditions that they need.

The fact that they are forced to attend public school is concerning to Dr. Pradeep Chopra because of Zachary’s Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. He could be exposed to environmental triggers and is literally at risk of a life threatening reaction.

The parents are not permitted to inform the school about his allergies or Mast Cell condition.

How You Can Help

A Facebook page called Bring Erin Home has been set up for supporters to follow the family’s story and get involved.

Erin FB page

Calls may be made on the family’s behalf to Governor Jerry Brown Jr. at (916) 445-2841, and he may be contacted here.

Assembly Member Tom Daly represents the family’s district in Orange County. He may be reached at (916) 319-2069, or contacted here.

Senator Janet Nguyen is their state senator. She may be reached at (916) 651-4034, or contacted here.