Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin wants Gov. Little to intervene in child welfare case
Sally Krutzig, Alex Brizee and Ryan Suppe, Idaho Statesman
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About 140 people protested outside a Boise hospital after police stopped a family at a Garden City gas station late Friday night and took the child, who authorities believed was in danger of imminent harm, according to a Meridian police news release. The child is the grandson of a campaign consultant for Ammon Bundy, a gubernatorial candidate and right-wing activist who was arrested while protesting for the child’s release.
Now, McGeachin wants answers, specifically from Gov. Brad Little. McGeachin on Saturday texted a link to a blog post that said the baby was kidnapped by police to Little and his Chief of Staff Zach Hauge.
“Is this true? Call off this medical tyranny tell the hospital to release the baby to his parents,” McGeachin said in a text, which was obtained by the Idaho Statesman. “If this is not the case, please call me to discuss.”
When neither Little nor Hauge responded, the lieutenant governor followed up with a letter to the governor, asking that he direct the hospital to release the baby to his parents.
Brady Hall, the governor’s general counsel, responded to McGeachin, according to records obtained by the Statesman, and said he “cannot and will not recommend Governor Little interfere with the legal process.”
Hall stated in the letter that the Idaho Legislature created the Child Protective Act to create a balanced process that “honors the constitutional rights of parents while recognizing that the health and safety of all children is paramount.”
“Idaho law mandates that pediatricians and other medical professionals report suspected child neglect and abuse to law enforcement who will remove the child if necessary to protect the child from death or serious physical harm,” Hall wrote. “Our legislature entrusts law enforcement to make those difficult and somber decisions.”
Hall said the names and medical conditions of the child or parents will not be released and are considered highly confidential. In a Facebook video uploaded Monday, McGeachin revealed the first name of the baby.
The state maintains confidentiality for children in its custody. The child’s name has been publicized by their family, McGeachin told the Statesman on Monday.
“I was frustrated because I’ve been trying to understand what’s going on,” McGeachin told the Statesman of her letter to Little. “I always try to weigh both sides of every story, and I don’t like to jump to conclusions.”
McGeachin said she spoke to the child’s family, but she was not able to talk to Department of Health and Welfare officials. The child was malnourished, McGeachin said, but she does not know whether the child was neglected or abused before being taken into government custody.
“I don’t know that, and that’s why I’m asking questions,” McGeachin said. “If the governor would just get on the phone and call me and say, ‘Here’s the situation, and it’s more complex than you may know …’ then I would accept that.”
The police officer who met with the boy’s mother before he was taken into custody indicated there would be a shelter care hearing regarding her case on Tuesday.
WHY POLICE TOOK 10-MONTH-OLD INTO CUSTODY
Law enforcement officials took the 10-month-old baby into custody to be treated because a pediatrician considered him “dangerously underweight,” the child’s aunt, Miranda Chavoya, told the Statesman on Saturday. The police stopped the family after they left dinner at a friend’s house Friday night.
Chavoya said the baby was having trouble digesting proteins and losing weight. He was hospitalized on March 1 after his parents brought him to the emergency room. The baby was “suffering from severe malnourishment,” according to a release from the Meridian Police Department.
The family was scheduled to bring the baby to another doctor appointment Friday but did not go because the mother, Marissa Anderson, was not feeling well and left a voicemail to cancel the appointment, Anderson told the Statesman.
When the parents canceled the appointment, “the Meridian police were contacted and advised this child’s condition could lead to severe injury or even death if not treated,” the police department said in its news release.
A social worker and police made attempts to contact the family about treatment for the boy. Eventually, police stopped the parents at the gas station and took the baby to St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center. The family saw an ambulance leave the Meridian center and go to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, where they believed the child was being treated.
Anderson, the baby’s 21-year-old mother, was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers for not following police instructions to hand over her son in the back of an ambulance.
In a Saturday post on Twitter, Bundy wrote that “last night my very good friend Diego’s grandson was medically kidnapped because a medical practitioner called (child protective services) for a missed doctor appointment. If this happened to them, it could happen to you.”
Bundy was arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing at a protest outside the Meridian hospital.
In a statement to the Statesman on Monday, Diego Rodriguez — the baby’s grandfather — said he was thankful for McGeachin’s support.
“We feel grateful for all of the outpouring of support from everyone in our community,” Rodriguez said. “Times like these transcend politics. We sincerely thank Janice McGeachin for weighing in on behalf of (the baby). God bless Janice for her courage and her prayers.”