Medical child abuse ‘not psychotic behavior’

Kate Parker, 44, of Grants Pass, Ore., is accused of 'medical child abuse.' (KOIN)
Kate Parker, 44, of Grants Pass, Ore., is accused of 'medical child abuse.' (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 44-year-old Grants Pass, Ore. mother of eight is at the center of a medical child abuse investigation.

Kate G. Parker, was arrested late Tuesday afternoon at her home on Southeast Marjean Lane, KOIN 6 News first reported. A grand jury indicted her on 43 counts.

Jail records obtained by KOIN 6 News show:

24 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment
4 counts of first-degree assault
1 count of child abandonment
4 counts of computer crime
4 counts of identity theft
5 counts of witness tampering
1 count of recklessly endangering another

Katherine G. Parker, 44, shown in a jail booking photo (Credit: Josephine Co. Sheriff's Office.)
Katherine G. Parker, 44, shown in a jail booking photo (Credit: Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office.)

Former Assistant District Attorney Mike Trent, who is not associated with the Parker case, spoke to KOIN 6 News Wednesday via phone to explain medical child abuse. He has prosecuted two cases of medical child abuse in Harris County, Texas.

“This is not a compulsive or psychotic behavior,” Trent said.

There is no criminal statute that defines medical child abuse in Oregon. Trent said the term is used when a parent or guardian is exaggerating or fabricating medical symptoms in a child for attention and financial support.

“You’re essentially using doctors to, in some cases, seriously injure the child for no good reason,” Trent said.

Senior law enforcement sources connected to the investigation, but who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the case centers around allegations that Parker lied to doctors and made up and caused illness or injury to at least one of her eight children.

Sources also confirm that Parker actively sought and received donations through at least one online website to help pay for medical related expenses.

Officials said, in one post, Parker made online comments to suggest her family needed help paying for funeral services, when in fact none of her children had died.

“Just like you rob a bank to get money, this is medically abusing your child to either get the attention or financial support that you want,” Trent said.

Trent cautioned the public about jumping to conclusions in thinking that doctors in Portland could have stopped any alleged abuse because he said people accused of these crimes often know exactly what they are doing.

“I think we live in an age of technology where people expect that modern medicine is going to have a test for everything and if you hook the child up to a machine, we’re going to know for sure what’s wrong with them. But it just does not work that way.”

He said doctors rely on an accurate medical history to be given by the caretaker.

Officials with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said they did not know when Parker would be transported from Josephine County. Once she is transported, she will go before a judge to be arraigned on the grand jury indictment.

The case is being prosecuted in Multnomah County because some of the alleged crimes occurred at a Portland-area hospital, a law enforcement source said.

The case is still being investigated by members of the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Child Abuse Team.

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