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9/17/2014 3:34 pm  #1

Parents starved 2-year-old

Parents charged for starving child, causing brain damage
October 24, 2012
Bill Stevenson

EPHRATA – A 2-year-old Moses Lake boy suffered a heart attack from his parents’ decision to rely on homeopathy medical treatments to heal him, leaving him malnourished and brain damaged.Samaritan Hospital staff described the child as “skin and bones, no muscle tone, no hair … it was apparent the boy suffered from severe malnutrition.” The boy is nearly 3 years old and weighed about 8-10 pounds, according to court records.

Robert Staats, 36, and Michelle Staats, 32, are charged with criminal mistreatment in the first degree and criminal mistreatment in the second degree, and possession of less than 40 grams of marijuana in Grant County Superior Court.Their four older children were taken into protective custody by the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS).

Robert Staats reportedly told investigators their son was born at home, without medical assistance, and he was healthy for about a year but began to have trouble eating solid food.

 A medical report claims the boy was inadvertently taught to reject solid food to the point of throwing the food up and causing health complications, including blood in his vomit and infections.The boy was taken to the Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program for reviews and weight charting every three months until October 2011 when he weighed 15 pounds. He had lost almost half of his weight before the heart attack in seven months.The Staats had also taken the boy to a naturopath provider, according to court records. The couple chose to use “natural” methods in attempts to cure their son, including remedies, vitamins and “probiotics.”Robert Staats told police the family are vegetarians and follow his wife’s belief in natural cures over modern medicine.

In November of 2011, the naturopath provider told Michelle Staats her son needed medical attention.“Advised them (boy) could die easily in this state. Parents refuse to seek other medical help at this time. Mother believes she can help him with natural medicine. I told them that naturopathic medicine is not appropriate for the severity of illness that (the boy) is exhibiting. Michelle is insistent that she will only use natural means at this time,” the naturopath noted in a report, which was included in the police report.

The lack of medical care led to severe brain damage to the boy, according to police reports. “No normal cerebral activity detected,” according to a child neurology specialist in June 2012. Dr. Matthew Blessing, of UW Medicine, performed a review of the boy’s medical history and concluded his medical condition was the consequences of neglect by his parents.

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9/17/2014 3:36 pm  #2

Re: Parents starved 2-year-old

Staats convicted of criminal mistreatment for starving their son
May 21, 2014
By Cameron Probert

EPHRATA (VIDEO)– Robert and Michelle Staats were convicted of starving their child. Grant County Superior Court Judge Evan Sperline found the Moses Lake couple guilty of criminal mistreatment in the second degree on Wednesday afternoon.The verdict came about two years after their 2-year-old son suffered a heart attack after roughly a year of failing health. The boy is now 4-years-old and suffers from brain damage.

Sperline explained the attorneys placed a lot of importance on whether the Staats recklessly failed to provide health care to the child, but he didn’t see the case the same way. “I don’t believe this case is about medical care,” he said. “This child did not suffer this terrible injury because of health care being withheld. He suffered it because he starved. The parents conduct withheld food from this child.” 

The professionals who examined the child told the Staats the boy needed food, Sperline said. People told the Staats he needed to go to the hospital to receive food intravenously. He compared the situation to a parent saying their child can survive on one carrot a day, and as the child loses weight the parent refuses to change the child’s diet. 
“Nobody in this courtroom would be arguing about medical care, everybody would be talking about adequate nutrition,” Sperline said. “It would not be a question that a parent that allowed that to happen to a child because of that feeding regiment withheld from the child adequate food.” 

The judge said the starvation occurred because the parents clung to their approach that they knew wasn’t adequate. He pointed out the parents tried a lot of options to find a way to get food into the child, but the problem was it wasn’t working and didn’t work for a long time. 

“I know that’s not what mom wanted for her child. I know that’s not what dad wanted for his child. They’ve made that clear in the way they’ve raised their family, but that’s what happened to this child.”

The decision came after the prosecutors and defense attorneys presented closing arguments. Prosecutor Angus Lee argued the Staats ignored advice from a nutritionist at the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to take the child to see a doctor. They also ignored the warning from a naturopath physician, who told them the child needed to go to a hospital or see a doctor with more expertise. 

The child’s condition became steadily worse until the child started having frequent and bloody vomiting the day before the child’s heart attack, Lee said. Defense attorneys Stephen Hormel and Doug Phelps argued the Staats never faced a problem like this with any of their other children. Phelps pointed out the statute doesn’t state what is medically necessary. “Does the law requires all of us to go to the hospital,” he said. 

Phelps also pointed out neither the doctors nor the WIC officials reported the child’s condition to Child Protective Services.

     Thread Starter

9/17/2014 4:17 pm  #3

Re: Parents starved 2-year-old

The Staats allegedly decided not to take the child to the hospital instead deciding to pray for the child to get better, according to Hormel.

Michelle Staats reportedly told police she prayed about whether to take the child to the hospital, and decided not to after getting an upset stomach, instead turning to a San Francisco herbalist for treatments.

Hormel and Phelps made two arguments about why the charges should be dismissed. First they argued an exception for Christian Scientists in the law makes it unconstitutional because it shows the government support for a religion.
Hormel and Phelps second argument states the Staats did seek help from alternative healthcare providers. The law requires parents to provide “the basic necessities of life” to their children including medically necessary health care. The attorneys argued state law recognizes prayer as treatment, and the law doesn't provide enough guidance to law enforcement to avoid arbitrary enforcement.

“It is not clear what is meant by 'medically necessary health care,’” the attorneys argued. “In fact, the Staats sought 'heath-related treatment' as required … The Staats also sought prayer for guidance in the treatment.  … Yet those responsible for enforcement appear to take the view that the only way to avoid criminal sanctions was for the Staats to have sought Western medical health care.”

Note - Common sense always. It doesn't need to be said that "those responsible for enforcement" undoubtedly "take the view" that the way the Staats can avoid criminal sanctions is for two-year-old Elijah to not starve and not die. However that plays out. Whatever needs to happen.

Last edited by Admin (9/17/2014 4:25 pm)

     Thread Starter

9/17/2014 5:07 pm  #4

Re: Parents starved 2-year-old

Staats couple sentenced to home detention, work release for starving son
July 25, 2014

By Justin Brimer

EPHRATA - The Moses Lake couple found guilty in May of starving their son to the brink of death will likely serve six months in home detention and work release.

Michelle Staats, who had a prior conviction in 1999 for possession of a controlled substance, was sentenced to six months confinement. Grant County Superior Court Judge Evan Sperline allowed her to serve the time in home detention while wearing an ankle monitoring device. She will have to pay for the monitoring.

Her husband Robert was also sentenced to six months and will be allowed to serve his time in work release, according to court documents. He had two prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance.

The couple was also ordered to pay $800 in fines and court costs. They will have to report to their work release and home detention on Aug. 15.

     Thread Starter

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