A family is suing the state of Illinois, a child welfare investigator contracted by the state, and others, alleging their three children were taken away for more than a year over the investigator’s hurt feelings.
The Center Square reported that Jacob and Patricia Krueger’s three children were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) in 2019 after their child was supposed to be discharged from a hospital for a complex medical issue. Aaron Rapier, the attorney representing the family, told the Center Square that Dr. Channing Petrak, the contractor for DCFS, was at the hospital and prepared to discharge the child following a year-and-a-half long investigation, but reneged after she was slighted by Jacob Krueger.
“While [Petrak] went into the meeting intending to discharge this child home to the family, which means of course that she didn’t suspect any abuse or neglect at that time, she did a complete 180 after she was embarrassed in front of a colleague,” Rapier told the outlet.
The three Krueger children are referred to as AA, BB, and CC, in the lawsuit, which was filed on January 20 in the Peoria Division of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. The oldest of the Krueger children was three when they were taken from their family for more than a year, and the youngest was just three days old.
The Center Square reported that the middle child, referred to in court documents as BB, was being treated for a complex medical issue and about to be discharged when the nightmare began.
“Petrak was not BB’s doctor,” the lawsuit says. “Jacob told Defendant/Petrak he did not want her involved in BB’s care, treatment, or discharge planning. Defendant/Petrak was offended and embarrassed by Jacob’s statements. She left the room, as requested, but Defendant/Petrak was not done with the Krueger family.”
The lawsuit alleges that Petrak contacted the others named in the lawsuit and told them her investigative finding was that the child was medically abused.
Rapier, the family’s attorney, said that the family had previously endured a 17-month long investigation that had found no medical neglect of the middle child being treated, but because Petrak changed her finding at the last minute, according to the lawsuit, all three children were taken from the Krueger’s for 467 days.
“AA was illegally seized and unlawfully detained by Defendants for no reason other than that he is BB’s brother and the adult Plaintiffs’ son,” the lawsuit says, according to the Center Square. “Like AA, CC was illegally seized and unlawfully detained for no reason other than his relation to the other Plaintiffs. Defendants did not have a court order, consent, or the exigent circumstances necessary to seize him.”
Rapier told the outlet that “It’s just too scary that someone has that much power and can act so arbitrarily.”
Michelle Weidner, executive director of the Family Justice Resource Center, told the Center Square that “a wrongful allegation can happen to anyone.”
“For children under about age of 3, any birth injury, medical condition or accidental injury can launch an investigation,” Weidner told the outlet. “When children have complicated medical situations, the parents need to be able to trust the hospitals and providers to make their child better. All too often though, when a child has an unexplained medical finding the hospital calls in a child abuse pediatrician who DCFS relies upon to find abuse and write medical opinions in anticipation of litigation.”
Rapier told the outlet “the family has been cleared in court” but the medical record still indicates abuse.
“Sadly, this one is not isolated and we are investigating other cases where children have been removed and the allegations of abuse and neglect are false,” Rapier added.