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A Pennsylvania woman has been accused of forcing her 8-year-old son to undergo a litany of “unnecessary” medical procedures and tests including an appendectomy, skin biopsy and colonoscopy.
Christine M. Maxwell, 48, is now facing charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering welfare of children, and theft by deception in connection to an investigation that began in 2019, according to a statement from East Pennsboro Township Police Department.
Police said they received a report in September of 2019 that a caregiver was suspected of child abuse through Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, or a condition now referred to as Caregiver Fabricated Illness.
Authorities later determined that Maxwell had “fabricated symptoms and illnesses” and forced her young son to “undergo many medical procedures and tests that were unnecessary,” police said.
At the time of the investigation, authorities Maxwell’s then 8-year-old son had already been forced to undergo a multitude of procedures and tests including an MRI, X-rays, GI endoscopy, colonoscopy, multiple blood draws and an appendectomy, even though medical professionals had repeatedly told her the child’s development seemed normal, according to a probable cause statement obtained by PennLive.
In one instance, authorities said Maxwell insisted her son undergo a skin biopsy after he got bug bites.
“A biopsy is an invasive procedure which is completely unnecessary and put him at risk of pain, scarring, infection and bleeding,” the affidavit said.
In another instance, the boy had to be sedated for a bronchoscopy after she told doctors her son had “barky coughs and fevers,” police said, adding the procedure carries “some risk” of bleeding, respiratory depression or a perforated airway.
Nothing was discovered during either procedure, police said.
“This abusive behavior has impacted [the child’s] development by limiting his activity, leading him to believe that he is ill when he is not, and causing him to miss school days unnecessarily,” police wrote in the affidavit. “[He] suffered from some underlying issues but none of the diagnoses should have required such an extensive amount of consultation from so many different specialists.”
Authorities began an investigation into Maxwell after an employee with a children and youth services agency reported the possible abuse.
When police spoke with Maxwell’s son, he referenced the large role his mother had on his health.
“My mom tells me when I’m sick,” he allegedly told authorities, according to the affidavit.
The boy was removed from her custody when the investigation began and has been healthy with no reports of illness since that time. The boy’s father has now been tasked with making his medical decisions.
Maxwell was arrested in November. An unsecured bond has been set at $20,000, according to a criminal docket in the case.
A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for February, WHP-TV.
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