Doctor cleared of 'abusing' children 


Source: The Ottawa Citizen, 29 March, 1997

Author: David Sapsted, The Daily Telegraph 


New York- A doctor who left her two young daugthers asleep in her car for less than a minute while she went to a store has been cleared of child abuse allegations after an eight-month, $20,000 legal-battle. Lawyers said the case illustrated a growing problem in America: people falsely accused are being "chewed up" by the legal system unless they are wealthy enough to pay to clear their names. Dr. Bobbie Sweitzer left the girls, aged one and four, in her Porsche while she dropped off a roll of film at a camera shop in the Boston suburb of Natick, where she lives.


The girls were sleeping soundly, so she parked the car, partially opened a window even though it was a cool day, turned on the car's burglar alarm and locked it. According to Dr. Sweitzer, the children were out of her sight fo 20 to 30 seconds but, during that time, a passing shopper called police. She was told later by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services that there was sufficient evidence to justify a charge of child neglect. The Sweitzers hired a lawyer and, though the social services department decided against a criminal charge, it recorded in its files that the mother posed a "moderate to severe" risk to her children. Unless challenged, the allegation would remain on file until the youngest child reach 18. The Sweitzers called on a psychologist and several character witnesses at hearing in January. Finally, the department conceded this week that Dr. Sweitzer's actions "did not rise to the threshold of neglect" and agred to remove the incident from the records.