False Allegations of Child Abuse

Fighting Charges Of Child Abuse/Shaken Baby Syndrome

During my 20-year career, I have seen too many people charged with crimes assume that they do not need a lawyer because they are innocent. This is a dangerous assumption. False accusations can lead to a conviction, especially if you do not have an experienced Lancaster attorney protecting your rights. I am Andrew H. Stevenson, Attorney at Law. I have offices in Lancaster and Athens, Ohio, and I represent parents, stepparents and grandparents who have been falsely accused of child abuse/shaken baby syndrome (SBS). If you have been falsely accused of child abuse, you probably feel as though no one believes you are innocent. However, I understand how false allegations of SBS occur, and working with medical experts, I can tell the real story.

Common Scenario

Your child appears ill and is vomiting, or worse yet, suddenly becomes unresponsive. You take your child to the hospital or call for an ambulance. After several hours of anxious and concerned waiting, a doctor emerges to explain what is wrong with your baby. Your only hope is that whatever is wrong can be fixed. However, rather than tell you that your child will be OK, the doctor confronts you about abuse. You are accused of shaking or assaulting your child. You are further told that Child Protective Services has taken custody of your child, and you are then questioned by the medical staff and/or law enforcement. Even though you tell them you did not harm your child, no one seems to believe you. Your nightmare has just begun.

I Can Help

This is where I provide unique strength for my clients to overcome the accusations. Most attorneys do not have the knowledge or understanding of the medical issues involved with accusations of abusive head trauma or Shaken Baby Syndrome. Other attorneys may rely solely on the medical opinion of the hospital or doctor because they do not know how to examine the medical records or work with experts to obtain a second opinion. In defending these cases, I gather all of the medical records, collect the full medical history, obtain second opinions and work with the experts to find the real cause of the injuries. I have a Ph.D. and detailed knowledge of the medical science in this area. This allows me to talk to the experts (including forensic pathologists, pediatric radiologists and ophthalmologists) in their language and understand the subtleties involved in these types of cases.

What Is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken Baby Syndrome refers to a hypothesis or belief that "shaking" may be reliably diagnosed as the cause of observed injuries based on the presence of three medical conditions. The "triad" of SBS consists of subdural hemorrhage (brain bleed), retinal hemorrhage (eye bleed) and encephalopathy (brain damage). If these three injuries are found in a child who is evaluated by a hospital, absent a clear explanation (e.g., an auto accident or a major fall), then the default diagnosis of SBS is given. The belief is that rapid movement and sudden stopping of the brain inside the skull result in the traumatic rupture of bridging veins inside the brain the retinal veins in the eye and the nerves or axons of the brain. SBS was the original working title or explanation for these injuries, but was subsequently replaced by "abusive head trauma" (AHT) when biomechanical studies failed to support the idea that sufficient force could be generated from shaking alone to cause the triad.

In addition to gathering medical evidence, I can represent you in matters concerning Child Protective Services, juvenile court proceedings and issues of temporary or permanent custody of your children. It is critical that you retain a lawyer as soon as possible to increase your chances of getting your children back.

I can also defend you if you are a parent facing charges of felony child endangerment and murder. My experience with complex violent crime cases involving forensic evidence is valuable in SBS cases. I have been able to prevent charges from being filed.