Josh Sabey and Sarah Perkins took their 14-week-old child to the emergency department last July just after 2 AM. They were concerned about a fever. A Washington Post investigation revealed that child protective services took custody of the child’s small body in the middle of the night after a series of inspections.
The boy was taken to the hospital for an X-ray of his lung. According to the doctor who was consulted in this instance, the baby had a healed fracture on his rib cage. This is consistent with blunt force trauma or “someone sucking the child too tightly.” The injury was not accidental and the parents were then suspected of child abuse. The parents were immediately interrogated by a social worker at the hospital.
Additional questioning by social workers was conducted with the parents and the sibling (3 years) of the infant over the next few days. Further medical examinations were performed on the children and their homes were inspected. However, no evidence of abuse was found.
The family was also sent home with a safety plan approved by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. A case worker followed up the next day. Later that night, at 1 a.m. two emergency workers and three Waltham, Mass. police officers arrived at the family’s residence to take custody.
After being informed that there was “new evidence” that authorities believed the children were in imminent threat, the parents had a heated argument with police for over an hour. According to reports, the parents raised concerns about breastfeeding and food allergies, which were later addressed by state agents.
The video of the parents appears to show them being calm and collected.
Their grandmother signed a sworn statement stating that she had just lifted the child from his car seat and then held him tight as his head started to roll back. A radiologist submitted an affidavit that stated that the incident was likely to be the cause of the injuries. The state continued its investigation.
After 16 hours spent in foster care, the children could be taken to their grandparents and then two days later, daily visits were granted to the parents. After a hearing on August 10, 2022, and 29 days after their child was taken to the emergency room, it would take almost a month for them to regain custody.
Parents are asking for their records to be amended to delete “a supported allegation” of child abuse.
The family has paid approximately $50,000 in legal fees.
ProPublica’s study found that child protective services agencies inspect approximately 3.5 million children’s homes each year without warrants. This results in about 5% of children being identified as victims of sexual or physical abuse.