Child Protective Court Associate Judge David Barkley on Friday once again denied a Crowley mother to have contact with her three children for the time being.
The woman, Kaleigh Flanagan, 27, falsified medical conditions and injuries related to her children, according to an affidavit in support of removal of the children.
The children include a boy, 1, and twin girls, 7, who for now remain in foster homes and under the supervision of the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services. The boy is the child of one father while the girls are the children of another.
“I find that the current placement, there’s two, of the children is safe and appropriate and all the children’s needs are being met to their best interest in their placements,” Barkley said. “That their physical, emotional, psychological and mental needs are being met. The children will remain in those placements until some further orders of the court.”
Barkley urged all three parents to work their service plans as supplied by CPS adding that doing so may lead to having their children returned to their care.
“The service plans are an order of this court,” Barkley said. “Failure toward any one of these court-ordered service plans could cause the department to seek termination of parental rights.”
In regards to the father of the boy, Barkley allowed visitation to move from Zoom to in person on a weekly basis supervised at the CPS office. Visitation for the father of the girls remains via Zoom for now, Barkley said, mainly because the father lives in another state.
Barkley added that the father may have back-to-back visitations with his daughters, however, when and if he travels to Texas.
“Mom’s visitation remains suspended as per her bond conditions out of Tarrant County,” Barkley said. “In the event mom’s bond conditions are lifted out of Tarrant County, I would consider some access and visitation. But it would require a hearing before this court before that would occur.”
Also ongoing are home studies on one of the fathers for possible placement of the girls and another couple, related to the mother, for possible eventual placement of all three children.
Barkley set the next hearing on the matter for 10 a.m. Aug. 13.
CPS on Feb. 1 received allegations of physical abuse and neglect of Flanagan’s son from staff members at Cook Children’s Medical Center.
The boy, according to his mother, suffered seizures and had been prescribed seizure medication by doctors, according to the affidavit.
“The report states that [the boy] was given an NG-tube due to the mother’s reports that the child was vomiting the medications,” the affidavit reads.
The mother subsequently brought the boy to Cook’s ER twice because of the tube being clogged. During a Jan. 28 visit Flanagan told staff that she could only do a portion of her son’s feedings because he threw up.
“However, when the nurse fed the child, 6 ounces were given to the child with no problem,” according to the affidavit.
Dr. Jamye Coffman, medical director of the Care Team at Cook’s, on Monday testified that doctors and staff over time began to doubt whether the boy suffered seizures or needed the medication prescribed or the NG-tube.
Coffman said that since the boy is too young to communicate any medical issues he may be having doctors largely have to depend on information from the boy’s parents.
Staff placed Flanagan and her son in a “scan room” to observe her interaction with her child.
“And that there have been multiple occurrences whereas [Flanagan] lied about the child vomiting,” according to the affidavit. “The report describes concern that the mother is making up the seizures because there has not been any indication of seizures happening other than the information the mother provides.”
The allegation, according to the affidavit, is a form of medical child abuse formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, which is categorized as a mental health issue “commonly due to Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another or FDIA, which is known to be a DSM-5 psychiatric disorder whereas an individual compulsively falsifies illness in another person,”
On Feb. 3, according to the affidavit, Flanagan three times told hospital staff that her son had vomited on three occasions. In each instance surveillance video shows Flanagan walking to a sink to wet her shirt before picking up her son. Staff each time noted no signs of vomit. In one instance Flanagan placed a pacifier in her son’s mouth before walking to the sink to wet her shirt.
“It is important to note that the pacifier cannot be seen leaving [the boy’s] mouth, and he could not have spit up while having it in his mouth,” according to the affidavit.
Flanagan, according to the affidavit, on several occasions told hospital staff that she is a nurse. A check, however, revealed no nursing license active, expired or suspended in her name in Texas or California where she previously lived.
“At this time, after the above information was reviewed, it became very concerning that the child has had to endure multiple procedures, EEGs, poking and prodding in order to determine his medical care, when none of this appears to have been needed at all,” according to the affidavit.
On Feb. 4, investigators spoke with the principal of the school Flanagan’s daughters attend. The principal said staff have reported multiple concerns and have caught Flanagan in “multiple deceptions.”
The girls had missed several days of school and were nearing truancy, according to reports, a situation the principal addressed with Flanagan.
“Ms. Flanagan stated the girls were missing school because their younger brother was in the hospital with a brain tumor,” according to the affidavit. “[The principal] reported that her staff then saw Ms. Flanagan and all three of her children, including [her son], at Target that very evening with no indication of a health concern.”
On another occasion the girl’s had lice and Flanagan “shaved their heads to the skin,” the principal told investigators.
Yet another time the girls arrived at school wearing neck braces.
“Ms. Flanagan reported that they had just been in a bad car accident,” according to the affidavit. “The staff reported that though the girls were wearing neck braces they appeared to be moving their necks just fine.”
The girls’ father lives in Illinois. Although he has not seen his daughters in several years, he told Barkley during Monday’s hearing that he has a home and a job and would be happy to take his daughters.
Barkley instead granted the father visitation rights to reconnect with his daughters and to allow time for a home study. The father told Toni Driver, attorney ad litem for the children, that he’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to gain custody of his daughters.
The father of the boy remains in the area, though he no longer lives with Flanagan. Driver said that the father appears to love his son but worked long hours and appears to have had little participation in his upbringing when he and Flanagan lived together.
Driver also expressed concerns over the children’s home in matters of hygiene and cleanliness.
Driver added that investigators found a large bag of various prescription medications behind the home Flanagan and the boy’s father once shared, medications that appear to have never been used.
Driver said the boy’s father has expressed interest in regaining custody of his son.