A Washington State mom who had her adopted daughter placed in leg braces and sent into operation to be implanted with feeding and other tubes — among at least 474 medical appointments since 2016 — now stands charge of the girl’s as-sault and att-empted after “subjecting her 6-year-old child to medically unnecessary operation interventions and restraints,” according to charging documents filed in court.
“This is not based on one investigator,” King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney told Seattle’s KING 5 TV. “It’s not based off of a quick investigation. This was months of investigation by cop and several experts who weighed in.” The case against single parent Sophia Hartman, 31, of Renton, is laid out in court documents reviewed by PEOPLE.
Those documents allege that it was the mother herself who reported the symptoms that guided her daughter’s treatment for a reported diagnosis of a rare neurological disease, alternating hemiplegia of childhood, or AHC.
The charges, filed May 24, reference a 16-day medical observation of the child at Seattle Children’s Hospital after she was removed from her mother’s care that included “genetic testing, which had not identified a variant in the gene associated with this disorder,” Dr. Mark Wainwright of Seattle Children’s Pediatric Neurology wrote in a report included in the court documents.
“Ms. Hartman’s child was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, alternating hemiplegia of childhood, by one of the few expert pediatric neurologists in the world from Duke University and by a neurologist at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma. The child has been evaluated and treated by the doctors at Duke for three years,” said a statement from attorneys Adam Shapiro and Jessica Goldman. “Contrary to the charges of the King County Prosecuting Attorney,” the attorneys said, “the child’s diagnosis was made by more than one doctor, is legitimate, and is based on a substantial record beyond the reports and information provided by Ms. Hartman.”
After adopting two siblings from Zambia, Hartman rode a wave of self-generated publicity that started with a book she wrote about her missionary work in that African nation that led to her adoptions.
“I was going to adopt a child who no one was waiting in line for,” she said in a 2019 interview KING 5 TV. “I remember saying, like, gimme a child who’s blind, or with severe cerebral palsy.” When Hartman began telling people — and then kept telling people through a steady stream of interviews, social media and a YouTube channel — that the youngest of the two children had been diagnosed with AHC, more attention and offers of help poured in.
A GoFundMe campaign collected pledges of $15,661 toward a wheelchair. Another fundraiser by Hartman’s church raised $30, 583. In 2018 the Make-a-Wish Foundation granted the girl’s wish for her mother and older sister to spend five days at an Oregon horse ranch, citing “numerous of (the girl’s) ‘diagnoses’ such as AHC, epilepsy and cerebral palsy,” according to the court documents. In 2019, Hartman spoke at a Make-a-Wish fundraiser, describing her daughter’s “disorder” as “a human time bomb for which there is no cure,” reports Q13 FOX Seattle.
But doctors told Hartman that the leg braces and wheelchair were not necessary, the court documents allege. Renton cop began investigating Hartman after receiving a report in February from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families, according to Q13 FOX. The report, which was compiled by four medical professionals on the child’s care team at Seattle Children’s Hospital, had described the risk to the girl as “profound” and was undertaken “because of a concern regarding a pattern of parental requests for increasingly invasive procedures based upon undocumented signs and symptoms reported by the parent,” according to the court documents.
“This situation is a case of medical child ab-use … ” concluded the report signed by the hospital’s medical director. “It is not necessary to know the possible motivation of a caregiver, only the outcome of the behavior. It is my concern that this pattern has resulted in unnecessary medical testing, medication, procedures, operation and debility of this child.” In defense of Hartman, Dr. Eli Newberger, who reviewed the child’s case at the request of Hartman’s attorneys, wrote in a letter released by those attorneys: “The medical records show that Ms. Hartman did not simply invent symptoms consistent with an AHC diagnosis. To the contrary, I see evidence of a parent faced with a myriad of challenging symptoms and issues … who was caught between medical practitioners with diverging views.”
He added: “From my review, there is no history, psychological, physical examination, or neurological evidence that contradicts the diagnosis of AHC, much less justifies a diagnosis of ‘medical child ab-use’… I believe filing charges against Ms.
Hartman would be a serious misc-arriage of justice.” In a statement released to Q13 FOX, the Make-a-Wish Foundation said: “We are deeply sadd-ened and dismayed to learn about the charge child ab-use case involving one of our former wish families. … This is a very serious charges and any th-reat to the well-being of a child is not in alignment with the child-centered focus of our mission. We hope this matter is quickly remedied in the best interest of the child.”
This is how people reacted to this post:
K Hodges – Unfortunately, we are seen as Guinea pigs to the “others”. We need to stop allowing these missionaries into our countries. They should stay in their countries and do missionary work.
Richard Green – The medical authorities there needs to be investigated for allowing her to ex-ploit the child!
President Oneday – The Trust put in these so call missionary is soo scary.
The missionaries are the ones that destroyed us the most. And because of RELIGION! we think they care for us. This has to stop.
QBeeZee !! – I am an African American Male, a foster father and have adopted 5 soon to be 6 kids. THIS MAKES MY BLO-OD BOIL!!! I AM IN TEARS WATCHING THIS! SHE NEEDS TO GET LIFE IN PRI-SON!
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