A woman from Washington state forced her adopted 6-year-old to undergo numerous unnecessary surgeries and more than 470 medical treatments, authorities said.
Sophie Hartman, 31, had her adopted daughter wear leg braces and go under the knife for surgeries to install a feeding tube and a tube to flush out the child’s intestines.
Hartman is now facing second-degree charges of assault of a child and attempted assault of a child in a case medical experts are calling “medical child abuse.”
“It is not necessary to know the possible motivation of a caregiver, only the outcome of the behavior,” Dr. Rebecca Wiester, director of the Seattle Children’s Hospital, wrote in a Feb. 19 letter that prompted an investigation by the Department of Children and Youth.
The letter, which said the child was at “profound risk,” was co-signed by other physicians and was part of the charging document from the King County’s prosecutor’s office, posted by KING15 ABC.
Hartman was charged after the child, referred to by the initials C.H., underwent a 16-day observation for her numerous ailments and treatments.
“At no point during her admission were there any findings or reported symptoms to support any of her prior diagnoses,” said the charging document, filed May 24.
“All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests C.H. is a healthy young 6-year-old who would continue to benefit from de-escalation of medical support and normalization of her childhood experience.”
The child was forced into “increasingly invasive” procedures, with a July 2017 surgical implant of a tube to get food, water and medicine directly into the stomach. In December 2018, she had a tube surgically placed into the intestines to flush out her bowels.
And the child’s adoptive mother was asking for a surgical hormonal implant to suppress early onset of puberty, prosecutors said.
Hartman was told the kid, who was removed from her care in March, didn’t need leg braces or a wheelchair, but she continued to force C.H. to use them, according to the charging documents.
“Moreover, fundraisers were carried out around this time and the defendant used fundraiser funds to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle,” the document said.
While it was all going on, she allegedly told someone that C.H. could “leave us anytime” and investigators said they found after a court order that Hartman had done internet searches that included “funeral songs” and “How to get paid to take care of a family member with a disability.”
In a 2019 interview with KING 5, Hartman said she had adopted two sisters from Zambia and that one had a rare neurological disorder called alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC).
“I know she’s walking right now but she was like literally paralyzed all day yesterday,” Hartman said at the time.
The child was given a wish by the Make-a-Wish foundation in 2019, Q13 Fox reported. In a video with the foundation, Hartman discussed the impact of AHC.
In a statement given to Q13, Make a Wish said it was dismayed by the accusations.
“This is a very serious allegation and any threat to the wellbeing of a child is not in alignment with the child-centered focus of our mission,” the statement said.
“We hope this matter is quickly remedied in the best interest of the child.”
Hartman’s attorney, in a statement to KING, said the allegations were false.
“The doctor from Seattle Children’s Hospital who’s largely behind the charges for this case is not an expert on this disease,” Shapiro said, according to the station.
“She probably has little to no experience in this disease.”
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