EPHRATA, WA – The parents of a severely malnourished Moses Lake toddler appeard in court Tuesday morning. Michelle and Robert Staats are charged with criminal mistreatment.
According to court documents, back in May, Michelle called 911 to report her 2-year-old boy had stopped breathing; she performed CPR until medics arrived. Their son was taken to Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake where doctors stabilized him and treated the boy for severe malnutrition, court documents reveal.
Court papers say a doctor noted the child was "severely chachectic, emaciated, wasted, and obviously severely malnourished; the parents seem to not recognize this fact."
Doctors say an average child the boy’s age should have weighed between 34 and 48 pounds, but the Staats’ son weighed just 10 pounds.
According to court documents, in an interview with detectives, Robert stated their son had problems eating and keeping down food the last year and that his health went down rapidly. Documents say Michelle to doctors the child had been ill for several week with reflux, vomiting and thrush.
Court papers say the family treats their children with herbal and homepathic remedies, and Michelle had seen a naturalist or natural path provider for the care of her son. Documents say the provider at some point advised the Staats of their son’s critical condition, severe anemia and electrolyte imbalance. It says the provider advised them their son “could die easily in this state.” In a report the provider noted, “Parents refuse to seek other medical help at this time. Mother believes she can help with natural medicine.”
Court filings say Robert told detectives, “We were never out to abuse or hurt our kids in any way, shape or form. We've always been trying to do the natural way, without medical treatment. My wife' really been pushed on that belief.”
It says Robert told detectives “Everyone that knows them thinks they are the greatest parents they’ve seen."
The couple have four other children that Robert told detectives are healthy.
According to documents he acknowledged to authorities “he felt like they waited too long and wished they would have brought [their son] in sooner.”
Documents say, “Michelle stated she wishes she could go back in time and would have definitely taken [their son] in when he developed thrust and gag-reflux problems.”
It says she told detectives, “She has fears with modern medicine and has seen lots of bad things happen to people who have gone in for treatment at a hospital.”
The Staats’ son was also treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. Doctors provided an update on his condition June 23, 2012. According to court documents, they stated “no normal cerebal activity” was detected in the boy, and “There is no effective treatment to restore the damage to the brain.” The report did say the toddler had gained some weight and his kidneys were well.
A Major Crimes detective concluded his report by saying the toddler “was denied proper medical treatment that could have saved him.”
The detective stated in court documents injuries to the boy’s brain could have been easily avoided, and he “should have never gotten to such a severe dehydrated/malnourished state of health. This is clealy a sign of neglect on both Michelle and Robert Staats.”