A Case of Mistaken Child Abuse

Serving nearby areas by Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida

A young couple’s first baby was born three months premature. During their daughter’s three-month stay in the NICU, she had a number of successive health problems and underwent dozens of tests, constantly being poked, prodded and examined, leaving bumps, bruises, marks and more.

Three weeks after her daughter was released from the NICU, the mother, while nursing at home, noticed a purple discoloration on her daughter’s forehead. After immediately consulting a pediatrician, who thought that the discoloration may be a sign of a serious blood disorder, the family was sent to the ER.

At the hospital, the nurse decided that the discoloration, along with the baby’s bloodshot eyes, were more consistent with a bruise from being hit or dropped. The nurse called DCF, which initiated an investigation. Within 24 hours, DCF had obtained emergency custody of the baby and the Delray Beach Police Department was conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of child abuse against both parents.

The family hired attorney Eric Romano to defend the criminal investigation and to bring their daughter home. For the next three months, the parents underwent multiple polygraph exams, police interrogations, DCF home studies, DCF case worker interviews and horrific allegations that they had abused their newborn baby girl.

Fighting to clear their names and have the baby returned to the family, Eric hired a pediatric expert who determined that the baby had a condition known as Purpura, a blood disorder that causes bruise-like skin discolorations as well as bloodshot-looking eyes. In fact, the baby had Purpura while in the NICU, and hospital records showed the pediatrician had previously diagnosed her with Purpura.

Had the nurse reviewed the hospital chart before calling DCF, she would have quickly realized that what looked like a bruise was actually the result of a blood disorder, not child abuse. Ultimately, Eric persuaded DCF to drop the case and the police to close the criminal investigation, but only after expending significant time and money and after the parents endured unthinkable stress, anxiety and worry.