Katherine Parker, an Oregon mother of eight, tricked doctors into performing “dozens” of unnecessary surgeries on her children. Parker faced up to three decades behind bars on various child abuse charges, but was allowed to be set free and only placed on probation as part of a plea bargain.
Parker pleaded no contest to five offenses (three misdemeanors, two felonies), including charges of assault, mistreatment of children, and reckless endangerment. Of the offenses, she was sentenced on the three misdemeanors February 22. Parker’s attorneys indicate that, if she complies with probation in the next two years, one of the two felonies will be reduced to a misdemeanor and one will be dismissed outright.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Katherine Parker had entered no contest pleas to five felony charges.
The unnecessary surgeries were performed on three of her eight children and included two young girls she had adopted from the Ukraine, according to the Daily Mail.
The medical child abuse case began in 2014 when Parker was arrested for charges related to the medical procedures the adopted daughters and her son, Joshua, underwent.
The prosecutors attached to the case said Kate Parker, who was a stay-at-home mom who went to church regularly, caused intentional physical injury to the three children. Not only did the children undergo medically unnecessary surgery, they were also reportedly given strong prescription drugs that were equally unwarranted.
The 45-year-old Grants Pass mom inked the plea bargain in the shocking case just days before she was scheduled to go on trial for the medical child abuse charges. The Oregon judge overseeing the case handed down only a 5-year probation decree and credit for time served. Katherine Parker will spend only 180 days of her possible 30-year prison sentence behind bars if she adheres to her terms of probation.
The terms of the plea deal mandate that Parker submit herself for a psychological examination to ensure that she is no longer a danger to her children. She is not permitted to have any unsupervised contact with the three children who were forced to endure the surgeries, and is no longer permitted to make any medical decisions for any of her eight children, all of whom are under 10-years-old, Oregon Live reports.
Parker’s legal team claimed that their client was suffering from Münchausen by Proxy syndrome. The condition involves a parent who fakes illnesses of a child in order to garner attention for themselves. Attorney Lisa Ludwig blamed not Parker but the doctors and medical staffers who attended to the children and performed the surgeries.
“There are two possibilities here: One is that a high-school educated, stay-at-home mom tricked literally dozens of medical professionals into doing literally dozens of unnecessary medical procedures — including brain surgery — on three different children. The other possibility is the doctors made errors,” Ludwig contended.
The Medill Justice Project became involved in the medical child abuse case that attorneys maintain was a very complicated one. The issue with Katherine Parker began three years ago when her then 7-year-old son Joshua went to the hospital for pain management before being sent to a hospice facility. Joshua had been diagnosed with multiple medical conditions, including spina bifida.
When a pediatrician at the hospital looked over the boy’s chart, he decided that both minor and major surgeries had been needlessly performed. The physician said that the Oregon mom provided “inaccurate history” to the doctors when taking her son in for care. The pediatrician determined that in spite of the mother’s contentions and the reports by previous doctors, her son was not either gravely ill or dying.
While Katherine Parker was at the hospital with her son, she reportedly spoke frequently about his impending death and once told a doctor that death would be the optimal outcome for the child. She was eventually banned from the hospital for allegedly telling her son to hit the pain medication button even when he felt fine, and to say that he had a headache so that his dosage would be increased.
Joshua was placed back in Parker’s home after she was released from jail. She is not permitted to interact with him unless another adult is present.
During the investigation into the medical child abuse case, police officers found an urn to store Joshua’s ashes before taking him to the hospital. During the investigation, the officers found that in 2010, Kate Parker had adopted Bethany and Hannah, who suffered from Down Syndrome.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, the little girls “failed to thrive” and both were outfitted with feeding tubes. A review of the health of the girls in 2012, after Parker said one of them was dying, found that both had undergone unnecessary medical procedures. Since Parker’s arrest, one of the girls was placed in foster care and the other was adopted.
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