She says, if you don't get 'em to us, we're going to arrest you. There are three police officers standing right there. Nobody says anything. My mom's like, okay, if I go to jail, do I take him with me? She says, no, he's gonna go to foster care and you're not gonna be able to care for him cause you're gonna have a criminal record. So two o'clock in the morning, everybody's scrambling. My dad is trying to call lawyers, calling friends. Of course nobody's answering their phone. And my mom says at the time, in her mind, it would've been less traumatic for my son if she just handed him to the social worker as opposed to him being ripped out of her arms by the social worker.
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That's Rachel Bruno, the mother of two boys who had her children ripped from her under false accusations. Her seven figure sum after mistreatment by the government and various agencies, tells the true story of medical kidnap.
I met Rachel on a trip recently to Washington DC for advocating for families for under child welfare reform. And her story is amazing and tragic, but fortunately with good outcomes at this point. But Rachel, hey, welcome. Hey Sally. Good to be here. . Yeah, I'm so glad we got to reconnect. I didn't realize how many people from Nashville were gonna be at that meeting in DC and so I'm happy that that worked out. And I want to know more about your story with Child Protective Services and we'll, let's just go into it. You tell your story how you want to. Alrighty. So before we get into that, I just wanna give a little background about myself. You know, I have seizures, I have epilepsy, and one of the main triggers of my episodes are sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep. So all you newborn mamas out there, you know you won't sleeping .
So it was my doctor's advice that I get some kind of help, at least for the night shift, so that I could get those eight hours of sleep. So when I had my first son, you know, grandma's more than happy to help my mom helped my mother-in-law came from Brazil to help with my first born. And when I had my second born, both grandma said, we are too old for this . So they pulled their money together and they gave me money to go find a nanny. And I said, oh my gosh, you guys are the best moms ever. So with that money, I went, you know, looking for a nanny to at least take care of my son. At night, I found somebody, she was a volunteer at a church at the nursery. Her husband was in the Marines, she had children herself, you know, no red flags.
So I hired her and she began watching my son when he was seven days old, when he was seven weeks old. I woke up to him screaming at about four o'clock in the morning and I looked at the clock and I figured, okay, you know, feeding him diaper change something to that extent. He stopped crying and a few minutes would go by, he'd start scream again, then he'd stop, then he'd start again. This went on for about 20 minutes until I finally got up and I went down the hallway. She had the door partially open. He was swaddled inside the crib and she had her hand on his chest and was kind of wiggling him back and forth, you know, shushing him, trying to get him to calm down and the kid was not having it. And so she picked him up and put him on her shoulder, like in a Burt position.
And at that point he stopped screaming and I was standing right there at the door. She never made eye contact with me, but you know, I kind of swung the door open. I went into the room and I said, did anything happen? And she showed me the empty bottle and she said, I just fed him. He's really gassy. I said, okay, fair enough, babies get gassy. At this point, I'm home alone. And my husband was on a business trip out of state. I had my 20 month old son sleeping directly across the hallway, seven week old baby screaming. And I tell her, okay, he's obviously not settling down. You know, I'm already awake, so why don't you just go home and I'll take it from here. So she left the house. I unsettled him, took off his clothes, looking for rashes, looking for drainage, ear, you know, ear infection, whatever I could think of for a newborn baby.
No signs of anything. So I gave him skin to skin, went to my room and he fell asleep on me. So I figured, okay, no, you just wanna be your mom. I must have dozed off. Next thing I know, I heard him screaming again at seven o'clock in the morning. I'm like, okay, you're hungry. Last feeding four o'clock. I tried to nurse them and he would not do it. Like he just kept throwing his head back. He would not latch. And I never had any issues before, so it kind of worried me. But I was, you know, jaded thinking that he was gassy, colic, nursing strike. I'm thinking a bunch of things. So slaughter him again and my 20 month old son starts waking up. At that point, I go get him, you know, I'm home alone trying to juggle these two kids and I could not put the baby down.
Anytime I lay him down flat, he would start screaming. But if I picked him up and held him in this Burt position on my shoulder, he was fine. So, you know, I'm with Dr. Google here. What is wrong with this baby? Six hours go by. He would not eat, he would not nap. I could not put the kid down. I call my mom, I say, mom, please come over here, help so that you can stay with my older son. So I could take this one to the pediatrician. She comes over, I call the pediatrician. The receptionist tells me that he did not have any availability until four o'clock that afternoon. And said he's been screaming since four o'clock this morning. He won't eat, he won't sleep. I need to see. Somebody says, okay, I'm gonna take him to the emergency room. So my mom is there with my 20 month old son.
We all hop in the car, drive to the emergency room. Of course, as soon as we start driving, what do babies do? He falls asleep. No more crying from him, not a pee from him. Get to the emergency room, he's sleeping and I'm thinking myself, great. No overreactive mom coming to the emergency room. Tell them all the symptoms, nurse checks, his vital signs, everything seems fine. But they do take me right away into the back rooms, right? And the doctor comes right away. Doctor again asks me what happened? I tell him and he just tells me to lay the baby down on the bed. And he walks away, starts walking away, he stops about 10 feet shy of the door and he's just standing there staring at my son and the whole room is quiet and I'm looking at my son. I'm not seeing anything, just thinking, this is weird.
I'll leave about two minutes. And he starts walking towards the bed and he goes right to my son's head, right behind his left ear and says, did you feel this? Said no. So he grabs my hand and he places my fingers there, says, do you feel that Bul? Like, yeah. He says, that's fluid, that's leaking from his brain. Okay, what does that mean? That it could be spinal cerebral fluid, it can be blood. We need to go do a CT scan right now, see what's going on. And as soon as he says that, about 10 people rush into that room and they start placing the probes on him on his head. They lift the rails up to the crib and they start bolting down that hallway. And as we're on our way to the CT room, his right arm starts switching and the nurses run even faster.
And I look up at the nurse, I'm like, is this normal? She just nods her head no. The first thing that comes to my mind is, oh my gosh, left side of the brain bleeding, right arm twitching. He's having a seizure like I gave it to him, right? It must be hereditary genetic. And I just say a little prayer right there. I'm like, Lord, please throw my sons for having to live with this. Like I did get to the room, they tell me to go wait in the waiting room and I'm just in shock, right? Me and my mom, my husband is in a business meeting, I'm texting him, no idea what the heck is going on. Doctors call my name Miss Bruno. They take me to the back where all the monitors are, and the doctor tells me this is very serious. I'm like, okay, your son has a cranial fracture and an intro cerebral blood hemorrhage. The fluid that's leaking is blood. The brain hates blood. We need to go do emergency surgery right now.
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I'm like, okay, so he's just handing me all the liabilities. Are you against blood transfusions? I'm like, I don't care what you have to do to save my son's son. And off they go. Wheeling my seven week old baby into brain surgery. And again, I'm in shock, right? I'm there with my mom. And I think at that time the word fracture didn't really register with me. I just thought, you know, he's a newborn. The cranium isn't completely formed yet. Did one of those flaps pop open the bleeding due to an aneurysm genetic? You know, anything? Never crossed my mind that this could have been done maliciously or intentionally. So four hours go by, surgeons come and get me. And they say the case went well. Now, clinically, as far as they're concerned, they were able to fix the fracture. They were able to drain the blood.
My first question, is he gonna be okay? He's gonna be brain damaged. The doctors tell me, we really dunno, you know, due to his young age, we don't even know whether he's gonna survive for the next 48 hours. I'm like, okay. And he continues. He's in a medically induced coma right now, due to all the seizures he started having following the procedures. He was having about 15 seizures an hour. And the doctor says it's probably due to the irritation of the blood in contact with the brain. So, but he's stable. We're gonna keep them in this medically induced coma until we figure out the right cocktail of medications to control the seizures. So I will take you upstairs to the PICU or nicu? PICU . Yeah, the pediatric picu. So I go up there and again, you know, seemingly lifeless baby of the machines beeping. He has gauze wrapped all around his head has tubes coming out of every ORs you can imagine. And I touch his hand and he doesn't grab it back. And again, remember praying right there, Lord, I don't care if I have to dedicate the rest of my life to taking care of my son, I will. Don't take him away from me. And I felt spirit ine at that moment. Say, he's mine. I gave him to you, nobody's gonna take him away.
And I felt peace at that moment. Like, okay, Lord, you're right. He is yours. No better place for him to be than in your hands. Surrender my son's life to you at that point. So after that little prayer, I had to go into logistics mode. My mom was there, my 20 month old son was there bouncing off the walls. By this time it's about seven, eight o'clock at night. And I called my friend, pick up my mom to take them home. My son would be spending the night at my mom's house. No, I obviously wasn't leaving the hospital. My husband was still out of state at an airport somewhere texting him, you know, trying to keep him up to date. And he's on his way back home to California. And as I'm waiting, everybody leaves. You know, I'm texting, I'm trying to figure out what the heck I'm gonna do.
Uh, somebody slides the door open and they say, Ms. Bruno, can we speak to you? And I look up, it's a man in the uniform and a woman with a clipboard. And I thought, yes, come on in. Thought it was weird. What the heck? What is a police officer doing here? And he said, first words out of his mouth, what happened to your son was worse than getting struck in the head by a bullet. Okay? Like, will you help us? We want to help you figure out how this happened to your son. So at that point I'm thinking, you know, if he's asking me for help, obviously he doesn't think I'm the one who did it. They're gonna go after the nanny and bullet to the head. I'm like, are you implying that this woman tried to kill my son? Like what else would a bullet to the head do?
So I sit down with them and I talk to them, tell them the whole saga from four o'clock in the morning and it's now 9, 9 30 ish. And he just keeps asking me, why didn't you call 9 1 1? Didn't know what was wrong with him. She told me he was gassy. Why did you bring him to a hospital in Orange County when you live in LA County? Because this is the children's hospital that I know. Why did it take you so long to bring him to the hospital? Because I thought he was Cassie. Meanwhile, the social workers there beside him asking me, do you have any other children? I do, but are their names their ages? I tell her and she says, is it okay if we go see him now again, I'm thinking these people are gonna help me. I have nothing to hide. So I tell her, he's probably asleep by now.
She says, we're not gonna wake him, we just wanna make sure he's okay. So I call my mom right in front of her, tell them they're on their way. They wanna see David, who is 20 months old at the time. And the social worker leaves and I'm thinking she's gonna go to my mom's house. The police officer stays with me and he asks me to wait for the detectives that the detectives are on their way and they would like to speak to me as well. So I comply. My husband comes straight from the airport to the hospital. At that point, the police officer takes my husband to one room, places me in another room, closes the door and tells me to wait for the detectives. The detectives don't arrive until midnight and they interview me until two o'clock in the morning. They're telling them the story.
No, and they're very nice to me. They told me explicitly that this is not an interrogation. You are free to leave at any moment. Still not registering with me. Right? What was going on? So it's two o'clock in the morning and I tell them, you know, I really need to go get some sleep. I've been up since four o'clock in the morning the previous day. It's now at two o'clock in the morning the next day. I don't wanna have any seizures now. I will be more than happy to cooperate with you. When I wake up, gave me their business cards, I go to sleep. And at this point, something had already happened, but my husband just gave me my medication, told me go to sleep. I wake up at 10 o'clock in the morning and my husband is just staring at me. It says, blank look on his face.
And my first instinct is to look at the baby. Like he's there, he's alive, what's going on? And he says, they took David, you mean they took David who, where social services showed up at your mom's house at two o'clock in the morning with three police cars. And they took David. She lied to me like she said, they weren't even gonna wake him up. Well, they took him and we don't know where he is. So I called my mom and I'm like, okay, what happened? And she said, yeah, they came here inside the house. They walked through the house, opened the refrigerator, turned on the lights, asked me where David was sleeping. I showed her where he was sleeping. She turns on the lights, wakes him up, asked me to undss him, which I did. She looked over for any bruises, for any signs of abuse. And she says, there are no signs of abuse, but we're taking him. And my mom says, you know, you're not, she says, if you don't give him to us, we're going to arrest you. They're three police officers standing right there. Nobody says anything. My mom's like, okay, if I go to jail, do I take him with me? She says, no, he's gonna go to foster care and you're not gonna be able to care for him cause you're gonna have a criminal record.
So two o'clock in the morning, everybody's scrambling. My dad is trying to call lawyers, calling friends. Of course nobody's answering their phone. And my mom says at the time, in her mind, it would've been less traumatic for my son if she just handed him to the social worker as opposed to him being ripped out of her arms by the social worker.
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So she gives my son to the social worker and he won't get in the car and he's kicking and screaming and crying. And my mom has to strap him in the car and they drive off in the middle of the night not telling us who, what, where, what the heck is going on. So it's now 10 o'clock in the morning and social worker will not answer her phone. The supervisor is not answering their phone. We have no idea where my son is. I start calling lawyers and I had to call about 10 different lawyers until I finally found one. Who knew what the heck was going on. And he told me, come to my office. I went to the office and I'm thinking, you know, this has to be some sort of miscommunication, bad apples. I'm like, you know, where is my son and where do I go get?
He tells me, you sit down, you have no idea what you're in for. I'm like, what are you talking about? I didn't do this. I believe you. Doesn't matter, like with me, it doesn't matter. What about innocent until proven guilty? What about our constitution? What about the nanny says they may investigator, they may not. I'm like, I didn't do this. He's like, I believe you, but this is family court. They don't follow constitutional law. What other law is there? And they can do whatever they deem is in the best interest of the child. I'm like, how is it in the best interest of my son to take him at two o'clock in the morning to God knows where. And here we are. You know, I just start ranting and he slams his hand on the table and he says, listen to me. You are not getting your kids back.
What happened to your son is criminal. You are facing 15 years in jail and a hundred thousand dollars bail if they decide to charge you. I'm like, I didn't do this. I believe you. If I go into that courtroom and I tell the judge to give the children back to you, he's gonna pull this up. And he brings out a piece of paper with the criminal investigation, they're gonna say, your Honor, this woman is under criminal investigation. You are placing the children at risk by putting them back with their mother. And if that happens, they're gonna go to foster care. They are under two years old and nonverbal. They can be legally adopted by the foster family if the case lasts longer than six months. And they will make it last longer than six months. And I'm just, I'm like, what jail adoption bail a hundred thousand dollars.
I'm like, what? What country am I living? This what, what ? And just like I'm doing now, you know, I have this nervous laugh. I was laughing and he's like, you, you have no idea. You are not getting your kids back. He calls his wife in to come talk to me. And I'm like, but no, like this isn't possible. And it's like, so what are you telling me? What the heck am I supposed to do? He says, you're saving grace is that your husband was outta state when this happened. So legally speaking, he wasn't even at the crime scene. We were gonna ask the judge to give sole custody to your husband. That way they don't even risk going into foster care. But if that happens, they're gonna kick you out of the house. So what choice if they have? Right? And I left that office.
I'm like, this, this is crazy. You know, he, he gave me some homework. He's like, I want you to get as many character letters as you can. I want you to call Dr. So and so enroll in this call, Dr. So and so enroll in this, do this, do this, do this. And I go to the hospital. I tell my husband what the plan is and everybody is just horrified. And I have to start calling people, asking for character letters, you know, to tell them that my children have been taken, I'm under investigation for child abuse. And it was humiliating, right? It was humiliating. It was terrifying. It was crazy.
I got 23 character letters. 72 hours later we have the emergency hearing and I'm thinking, this is not gonna happen. You know, the judge is gonna see through this, right? This is crazy. This is not gonna happen. I'm thinking it's gonna be at least like Judge Judy. You know, you talk, you talk, you talk. What is going on here? We get in there. The nanny's not there. The police officers aren't there. The social workers aren't there, the detectives aren't there. The only person on trial in that courtroom is me. And I'm sitting there and it's a bunch of lawyers. And the lawyers start talking. And next thing I hear, my name is Bruno. Any objections? What my attorney, any objections to the children being placed with their father? No. Mr. Bruno, any objections? No. Okay. Children will be placed with their father. This is Breno. You have 24 hours to vacate your home. You are a court ordered to take child abuse classes, parenting classes, and individual counseling. A case worker will be contacting you regarding visitation. Court is adjourned.
This is really crazy to me. I mean, it does sound like you, it basically, it sounded like there had already been a trial before you even showed up. And we've got the rest of this written out in this article. And I would love for people to go and listen, go go and read the article to find out what else happened with Rachel's case. Yes, she got her children back. Yes, she was able to go back home. Yes, she was very lucky in that her husband was the one caring for the children. But imagine what that does to a child that young and two children that young, when all of a sudden their mother is taken away. And then, like you mentioned before, uh, you only got seven hours a week with them, supervised visitation with your own children for something that you didn't do. And then the nanny was not ever even investigated. Not properly, nothing happened with her. Um, I really commend you for stepping up and actually moving forward with your hunches about how your case was created and, and how your case was handled, because it doesn't sound fair at all. And I couldn't imagine being any parent having to go through something like that.
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Yeah. And when I was court ordered to take the child abuse classes, right? I'm thinking to myself, what the heck am I gonna do in the child abuse class thinking I'm gonna be in there with a bunch of drug addicts, alcoholics. And when I get there, everybody is in the same boat that I was. Nobody had intentionally abused their child. There were playground accidents, there were bathtub accidents, there were disgruntled exes, there were stupid decisions. Yes. Mm-hmm. . But it was not abuse. And I'm telling my story to these people and they were completing my sentences. They're like, oh, let me guess Dr. So-and-so. Yeah. Oh, let me guess Judge. So-and-so, yes, diagnosis, non-accidental blood force trauma. This. And I'm like, what? What? How, how do you know this? Like, this happens regularly. And they're like, oh yeah, they do it all the time. I'm like, but why?
Why? And you know, people would roll their eyes. People would be very vague. But there's that old saying, when nothing makes sense, follow the money. So back to when they seized my son, they seized him and they took him to the county children's shelter where he stayed for 48 hours and they would not release him to me or to my husband because we were now under investigation. They did release him to my mom. My mom was a public school teacher, mandated reporter fingerprinted. So she's the one who picked him up from the shelter. Now, before I even had the hearing, right, the hearing was 72 hours later, within 48 hours, they asked my mom if she would adopt my kids. And my mom said, no. Hey, get on back to their mom to who they belong. The social worker tells my mom, well, we don't know what the judge is going to order.
So in case the judge orders the removal of the children, will you adopt them? Says what happens if I don't, they're gonna go to foster care. So my mom signs the adoption papers and the social worker hands her two checks for $680 each. And she says, okay, he'll be receiving $680 a month per child. They are eligible for Medicaid. They will receive wic, food stamps, clothing, you know, all this stuff. And my mom is like, I don't want your money. And the social worker says, this is how we help the families. My mom holds up the checks and she's like, can I say that for the lawyers? And the worker says, I'll pretend I didn't hear that. Wow. Wow. And yours, your case did go through and fortunately you got them back, but how much longer was it, you said before you got to go home?
It was 40 days and 40 nights from that 72 hour hearing that they came to me out of the house. So during that period, I had nowhere to go. They wouldn't let me live with my mom because my mom was now the primary caretaker. During the day when your husband was working, your husband was working? Mm-hmm. and I have no family here. My whole family's in Brazil. My husband's whole family's in Brazil. I'm an only child. And I'm like, where the heck my supposed to go? And my attorney said, well, as long as your son's in the hospital, you can sleep in the hospital. It's a monitored facility, they can't kick you out. So I stayed in the hospital, then I moved to a hotel for a couple of days, and this is in July, August, very high season. He knows like $5,000 a month to stay in a hotel.
And I tell my attorney, I'm like, this is not feasible for me. I can't do this. I'm like, I have to go live with my mom. That's the only other person I have. And he says, well, you can ask for that, but they might say, you're putting your child at risk since your mom is the only primary caretaker. So my family in Brazil, my mother-in-law paid for my aunt and for my cousin to come from Brazil to the States so that they could stay with my husband and they could take care of the children. My, my cousin is a dentist in Brazil and she told all her clients, you know, to go see her coworkers. And she came over to stay in my house to take care of my babies. So I had, you know, an amazing support system. Mm-hmm. , right? I had people all around me.
I had the finances, I had the education, I had the resources. Most people don't, right? And if you don't, that's when you really get screwed. Like if you can't afford a private attorney, you know, you get a public defender. Unfortunately the public defenders work for the system and they get paid through the system. They are coworkers with the judges, with the social workers, with the counsels. You know, you don't wanna piss off your, your coworkers that you have to live with every day. Mm-hmm. . So in one of the cases in the child abuse class, there was an 18 year old kid in there who slipped in the bathtub and dropped his baby. And the baby broke tibia and fibia. And he went to the emergency room. He told them, right, I was giving her a bath. I slipped in the bathtub, I dropped her. And because it was fractured in more than two places, it was considered child abuse. So the baby was taken, he's 18 years old, doesn't have any money of course to afford an attorney. His family didn't have any money. He gets a public defender facing the same charge as I was 15 years in jail, a hundred thousand dollars bail. And the public defender tells him, you know, just throw in there, tell the judge you're sorry. Take responsibility for what you did and we'll do two years instead of 15.
And that's what he did. He got two years in jail and he was out of jail now in the child abuse class with me fighting to get his kids back. But now of course he has a criminal record, can't find a job, and social services is holding that against him. How are you gonna support your family? So it's like they have to like, they trump up these charges, they make you guilty, they tease you into a better sentencing and you end up taking that. But then that diminishes your chances after the fact to get your children back eventually. And then those children go on, just like I say in the article with the horrible statistics about what happens with kids who get into the system. So at the end of the day, as horrible as your story is, you were so lucky that you got to keep your kids within your family support system.
Absolutely, yes. And even at the end of those 40 days when I had the hearing right, my attorney tells me, he actually called me that day and he says, don't bother coming to court today. Your case hasn't changed. The status of your investigation hasn't changed. The criminal case is still open. Don't waste your time. I won't waste mine's. And I told my husband that and he says, I don't care what he says, we're going. So I go to the courtroom anyway and I'm waiting there, just sitting there waiting for my name to be called. I don't know what I'm supposed to do when my name is called . But after about two hours, my attorney calls me. He's like, where are you? I'm at the courthouse. Says, okay, I'm on my way. Might be able to do something today and hangs up on me. So that day it was basically a no contest play, which I came to find out later.
But he comes out with a bunch of papers. He says, initial this sign this, initial this. I don't even know what the heck I'm signing or what. I'm initialing. I'm just trusting. My attorney at this point comes back three hours later with a stack of papers and he says, okay, here's the deal. If you're willing to sign this document the way it's written, there's nothing in here admitting guilt. There's nothing in here saying that you did this. They will let you go home today. And at that point, if they told me to chop off my legs, I would've done it. I just wanted to be home. My baby. My baby was seven weeks old, right? My baby wasn't even two months old. I felt like I had missed half his lifetime at that point. Right? And even my 20 month old son, like during our visitation, I got one hour a day to visit my 20 month old son.
And we only spoke Portuguese with him at home, right? We're from Brazil. That's the only language he knew. They actually made me sign documents saying that I would not speak any other language but English with him because my visits were being monitored. So the social worker had to know what I was saying to my son. And my son is just staring at me like, what are you saying? Who are you? And my cousin, who was from Brazil, who was there watching him, you know, she witnessed milestones that I didn't get to witness, right? He would start singing a new song and I'm like, what? What are you, what is this? And my cousin said, yeah, we were listening to a DVD at home and he was dancing to this and this is what he was doing. So, you know, those moments taken away from me. I didn't, I don't care like what you do to me. You know, put me through the ringer. I'm an adult, I can handle this. But leave the kids alone. Leave my children alone.
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So when I got the chance to go home, whatever the deal was, I was willing to take it. And I went home to be with my children. Our case remained open for six months where a social worker would come to our home unannounced and write up the reports. And at the end of the six months, it was her recommendation that the case be closed. The criminal investigation remained open for a year. And it was only due to my attorney calling the DA and telling her, you know, you don't wanna mess with me. Like I will humiliate you. You do not wanna go up against my client. You know, you have nothing. So my attorney was a bully. I mean, he made me cry almost every week, . But I needed that. I mean you that to fight the system, you need somebody who plays dirty or dirtier than they do, cuz they have no qualms about putting you through everything they can .
So my attorney, he's not very liked in that court system. He's very well known for what he does. But he made the DA throw out the case and he said, you know, again, you're one of the lucky ones. You thank God, you know, go live your life. And I said, I can't, knowing everything that I witnessed, I can't just go on live my life like I normally would. You know, can I sue them like you can. I know my friend who will, who will do it. So I called civil rights attorney, his name is Sean McMillan and told him about the case. This is all he does is sue cps. He has won millions of dollars suing the system. And he said he would take our case. It's based on the Fourth Amendment and 14th amendment violations. So through discovery, it gets even worse when we obtain all the juvenile records.
Usually parents can't obtain the juvenile records until the children are 18 years old. So family court says this is because of privacy, right? To protect the minors privacy. But in reality, I believe they're protecting their own buts and what they do to the children while they're in their, their care. When we got access to the files, we started reading through the things, and that's where we discovered that they gave my son David, 20 months old, 13 vaccinations without our consent at once. They forced him through a full skeletal survey, which is basically an image of every bone in your body. After they had seized him at two o'clock in the morning at my mom's house, he's not even two years old, of course he's not gonna sit still for an x-ray. They had to tie him down to the table to get all these images.
They gave him an anal wink test, which is for allegations of sexual abuse when there weren't any suspicions of sexual abuse. And we just see them digging this hole. Right? Or like looking for anything that they could pin on us in order to justify what they did. We see the social worker's narratives, the social worker that took my son to the hospital, told the doctor that there was a suspicion that he might have been hit against the wall. Like what? And I read that like I never said anything about my son, my 20 month old, right? And I talked to my attorney and I'm like, are they mixing the the children up? Right? Is he flat out lying or is he stupid? and my attorney, well that's up for the jury to decide.
So it was another level of heartbreak just reading these reports because I still had an inkling of hope. I think that there was some sort of miscommunication somewhere, right? Or that I got a dirty apple somewhere, some misunderstanding, something to justify what these people did. Then I got the text messages between the social workers, the law enforcement, and the detectives that day at the hospital and before they ever interviewed me, the social worker sends a text message to her supervisor and she says, I'm on my way to the hospital. There's an infant with a cranial fracture, has a sibling, 20 months old, was with the nanny, her mom. And then the supervisor replies back, omg, you think it was the nanny? And puts a little sad face emoji. Then the social worker replies back to her supervisor. No, think mom. Wow. And this is before it even started.
Yes. So this all came out during discovery, right? During our civil suit. I would not have known any of this had I not sued them. So we have, I have over 28 hours of depositions of them being questioned and all this evidence being presented to them, and their faces are just length, like no remorse, no emotion, nothing whatsoever. And my lawyer kept pressing them, did you think mom did it? And she's like, I didn't know at the time. It's like, okay then why didn't you tell your supervisor? I don't know. Why didn't you say no? Think mom. I don't know who did it. Right. They just kept repeating themselves. You know, they saw, I think as the case progressed, as the depositions progressed, that they looked really, really bad. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Like they obviously, they looked like they didn't really do their investigation right, but they just made some assumptions and then just went with the route that would give them the money from the funding from the government to continue what they were doing rather than to really find out the truth and to stop this. Yeah.
Rachel and I met on a recent trip to the US Senate and house congressional offices in Washington dc We both live in Tennessee, so we got to know each other pretty well, visiting our state's representatives. I learned her story by what she shared with the legislator's staff.
So at the end, I mean we started our civil case in April of 2017. We started doing the depositions probably August and went on until December of 2018. And our trial date had been scheduled for June of 2019. Wow. So it was two, two years that they give, you know, for discovery, for deposition, for all that stuff. But we had a initial mediation, which is court ordered. Right. You have to do that before you go to trial. And it's all day. You have a mediator that keeps going back and forth between the parties trying to get you to come to a agreement before we go to trial. So they kept coming back with like $20,000, $50,000. And my attorney's like, no, no. And this went back and forth. They came up to maybe $200,000 and my attorney, Nope, nope, we're not gonna accept anything below this. And he writes down a number for each different entity that we had sued. Mm-hmm. . So one for LA County, one for Orange County, one for the sheriff's department, and one for the hospital on separate sheets of paper. He told the mediator, I want you to give these to the separate counsel. They have 24 hours to respond and they are not allowed to share with each other what each number is. If they violate any of those things, then we're going to trial.
So sent it off to them and they did not get back to us within the 24 hours. Okay, we're going to trial. And then the depositions continued. While the depositions continued, they saw that they kept digging themselves in deeper and deeper and deeper. Mm-hmm. , then they called my attorney and asked for a second mediation. Now technically we don't have to do another mediation, right? We already did. Our court ordered one, we can go to trial. And my attorney said, well, I think we should take this. I'm like, why? No. Like they're gonna get screwed in trial. I wanna go to trial. And he says, I understand, right? I'm not saying that your case doesn't have merit or that you're gonna lose. Question is how much are you gonna win at trial? And also remember, these are supposed to be the good guys, right? We're fighting against the good guys.
It's really hard to convince a jury that doctors, police officers, social workers are maliciously trying to do this to you. So even if you do win, they're going to appeal it. And if they appeal it, you're back to square one and you're gonna be spending another five years spending another $500,000 doing this. Mm-hmm. . So I agreed to the mediation, said they're gonna pay for it, right? We're not gonna pay for the mediator, they pay for the mediator. And we go back. So back and forth, back and forth until we reached, you know, the settlement. And one of the funny things my attorney wrote, I said, well, they at least apologize, right? Like, I don't care if I win $1 at trial, I at least want these people to be held accountable. And he's like, I know they won't, but I'll write it down just to piss them off.
You know, he wrote on a piece of paper, we want an official apology by the county's on official letterhead signed by, by so and so and with the dollar amount. And when it came back, the paper had been scribbled all over that apology. like, no, I can, no. Like a four year old had taken it and scribbled all over it. And then the money amount we finally settled on was 1.49. Mm-hmm. . And I was so mad that day, , I know it sounds crazy, right? I just won one and a half million dollars. I'm like, I'm so mad. Like I feel like I sold out to these people. I feel like they're not gonna be held accountable for what they did. And my attorney said, well, you know, if you'll leave mad, that's always the sign of a good mediation. If somebody leaves happy, that means somebody else really does mood.
So he's like, it's okay. It's okay. What you're feeling is normal, it's okay. But I probably spent the next three days sleeping. Like I didn't get out of bed. My mom was with my kids. And I remember my friend from the child abuse class called me and she said no. And I was thinking she was gonna give me an update about her case. And she said, no, I just called you to tell you you're amazing. I'm like, why? Why do I, no, I feel like sleep. Yeah, . And she says, no, you're amazing. And I just started crying. I'm like, I sold out to these people, I shouldn't have done this. She's like, you did what was best for your family now you did what you could. And this is from somebody who had just lost all her children. They terminated her parental rights. She had the same attorney I did. She had the same judge I did. She had the same caseworker I did. Her children were taken to the same hospital that I did. And she's telling me I'm amazing .
So you know that perspective from these moms who I know better than any of these moms. You know, I did nothing different than these moms. I must have won. You know, I got my children back, I sued them. I did this for a purpose. You know, there is a greater purpose in this. And I will be the voice for these moms since they don't have anybody out there speaking for them. So I wrote a book and you can check it out on my website mm-hmm. , to get all the, the good, the bad, and the ugly in the story. There is a lot more , believe it or not. And, you know, share. I think the first thing is awareness. You know, most people aren't aware that the system even exists. I never would've believed this had it not happened to me. I always thought if you got your children taken away, you must have done something really bad.
And it's not the case. Well, you're very lucky. I'm very glad that it turned out the way it did because now you can advocate for others. And I know that there's so many people who are lost in this system, hopefully this podcast, the articles, anything that we're doing with this, the work that Connie regularly is doing with Family Forward Foundation and the all the acts and the laws and all the things we're writing about, uh, it takes years to fix things that get pulled in the wrong direction. And, and you're right. When you find out where the money comes from, then you find out the motives. And when you find out that that's how you know how to fight. Yep. Absolutely. So, you know, to all the people out there, even foster families, you know, I know that their intentions are good. You know, I don't blame the foster families, but take everything they say with the grain themselves.
Yeah. You know, because they, they lie , they lie. And I imagine my case, what would a potential foster family hear about my case or hear about me? Oh yeah. You don't know what they're gonna hear. I know people, I talked to people who said, uh, that the case worker told the child that no one in the family wanted to take her. And so she had no choice. And she was very upset with the wrong people because at the end of the day, she learned years later that they never even knew she had gone to foster care. They thought that the family had just been estranged from them for a long time. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, we need to do better as a society, as a whole in families. It's a bond. You know, it's something that can't be, you know, just poof, replaced like that.
You know, take away your mom, here's your new mom. You know, that's not how it works. You know? And it leads people with a whole in their heart without void in their life. That leads to things further down the line. Drug abuse, prostitution, you know, who can you trust? Right? When everything that you knew just got pulled out from underneath you, and now you're a child being raised by strangers, you're always questioning, right? Why didn't they want me? What happened? Yeah. Did this really do this? Did this do that? So it's a whole cycle. Yeah. That it's being perpetuated. And there are a lot more stories that we're gonna be covering on this because everybody has a different, there's something different about each one there all the problems that we're trying to sum up in the article. It's unbelievable how many examples that go under each category of how they're taking children from families.
And then when you have 80% of the cases end up being unfounded, it's really, it's really difficult to swallow that number. That's a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of effort. And yes, we do want to help the children that are actually being abused. You do want that to happen, but you've gotta have due due process and you've gotta have independent advocates for these families that are innocent. Thank you so much for doing this today, and that's the end of today. Shout your cause episode, I hope you enjoy it. And go to our website for show notes and websites and everything else where you can find Rachel and find her book and all of the above.
Thank you for listening today. My name is Sally Hendrick. Be sure to visit our website for show notes and more information on how you can inspire others. If you would like to contribute content to our magazine, please apply on our website at shoutyourcause.com.