JENNIFER MOTHERSHEAD CAUSED HER 14 MONTH OLD DAUGHTER TO GO BLIND AFTER PUTTING BLEACH LACED EYE DROPS IN HER EYES – UPDATED 11.18.2013 – CCA0049
JENNIFER MOTHERSHEAD CAUSED HER 14 MONTH OLD DAUGHTER TO GO BLIND AFTER PUTTING BLEACH LACED EYE DROPS IN HER EYES
Jennifer L. Mothershead has been charged after her 14 month old daughter was repeatedly given eye drops laced with a significant amount of bleach. Mothershead repeatedly put the bleach laced eye drops in the baby girl’s eyes, causing her daughter to lose all vision in her right eye, and most of the vision in her left eye.
In May of 2011, the baby girl was airlifted to the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for a subdural hematoma, a brain hemorrhage. It was there that doctors noticed the little girl had an eye infection. When Mothershead was asked about her daughter’s eye infection, she claimed the little girl’s eyes had been swollen shut for about four weeks and the issue actually began in March of 2011, after the baby girl got a scratch on her eye while playing in a barn. She also said the baby girl was sleeping 20 – 22 hours a day because of the discomfort associated with the injury. She claimed her daughter was given antibiotics and eye drops for the infection and she was the person who put the drops in her daughter’s eyes. The fact that Mothershead had no explanation as to how her daughter received her head injury and the hard to believe story about the baby’s eye infection, it was quickly clear that someone had been hurting the little girl, and staff contacted authorities to report the suspected abuse.
When the police arrived, they examined a bottle of eye drops Mothershead had given to the hospital staff, which had a foul odor, and noticed that the liquid was so caustic, it burned their skin. The staff determined that the damage done to the baby girl’s eyes was consistent with repeated exposure to bleach, and ruled out any possibility that the eye dropper had been merely cleaned with bleach. Mothershead insisted that the little girl fought stubbornly to receive the eye drop treatment. Luckily she was the only person in that hospital stupid enough to think anyone would believe that, and the baby girl was placed into CPS custody, until she was picked up by her father, Cody Mothershead, who she now permanently resides with. Cody Mothershead is a mandatory reporter of child abuse, as he is a math teacher at White River High School in Buckley. Unfortunately until his daughter was placed in his care, he did not see her very often, for merely a few hours every 10 days. Mothershead would routinely cancel his visitations with his daughter, using her eye condition as an excuse. When Cody was with his daughter, Mothershead refused to allow him to give his daughter her eye drops. Every official involved in this case has stated that they do not believe Cody had any knowledge that his daughter was being abused. At the time that this abuse of the little girl was discovered, Cody has already filed for divorce. Apparently, Mothershead even went so far as to asking for the baby girl’s father to have his visits severely limited due to the baby’s fragile eye condition. Mothershead also had another child in August who was removed from the home and placed in the care of relatives.
As the case progressed, an investigation was launched to determine if Seattle doctors may have been slow to report the abuse. Officials at the Washington state Medical Quality Assurance Commission filed a complaint and launched an inquiry into the care of the baby girl at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It turns out, that the baby girl was reportedly treated for two months at the hospital for severe eye injuries, with the report of possible abuse only being made when the girl was sent to a trauma center for her head injury. Dr. Avery H Weiss, an ophthalmologist with the Roger Johnson Clinical Vision Laboratory at the hospital, claims he suspected child abuse early on in the months which the little girl was been treated. He stated that when he placed the baby girl in the hospital, she would improve under supervised care, then worsen again when she returned home with her mother. He stated that he wanted to be sure he was correct before alleging intentional harm. The part that troubles me, is the fact that this doctor specializes in treating children who have eye damage caused by shaken baby syndrome and other abuse. If there was ever a doctor to recognize what was going on, and stop it sooner, possible giving the baby girl a chance at living a life free of blindness, it was him. By law, medical practitioners in Washington state are REQUIRED to report child abuse or neglect “at the first opportunity”, or no later than 48 hours after there is “reasonable cause” to believe a child is being harmed. Failure to report child abuse is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by possible jail time. I personally feel that the following statement made by Weiss is enough to hold him accountable for failing to save this child. He stated “Of course we felt guilty. We knew from very early on that she had this. But we were reluctant to implicate the mother until we were 100% sure.” Notice how the law says reasonable cause … that’s there so that doctor’s don’t need to wait until they are 100% sure of abuse, thus possibly saving the lives of children and preventing these children more significant harm. He then went on to state in an April issue of a medical journal that he acknowledged that medical staff may have missed signs that the girl was being abused. “After failing to respond to standard therapy, she was eventually identified as a victim of abuse. We discussed findings that could have provoked earlier recognition.”
He claims to have written the article as a warning to other ophthalmologists that a chronic or unusual eye infection actually may be a sign of abuse. Weiss further made a statement declaring “This child isn’t going to be normal for the rest of her life.” And further stating “this was purposeful abuse”. Weiss’ statements are incriminating and show that even after he had reason to believe the baby girl was being abused, he still allowed her to return to her abuser, and that ended with a beautiful little girl being robbed of her sight. It’s not clear how long the investigation by the medical commission may take.
Mothershead was arrested after a yearlong investigation into the abuse and charged with first degree assault against a minor. Authorities say she has shown no emotion whatsoever regarding her daughter’s injuries. Her bail was set at $150,000.00. Her trial was set to begin August 5, 2013, but I have been unable to find any information on it.
The little girl is now 3 years old, and the damage that her mother has done is extensive. The little girl has trouble with light, and is unable to go outside. She spends most of her time indoors with the blinds drawn. When she needs to go somewhere, she has to sit in the car with a blanket over her head. The little girl was robbed of a carefree childhood, stripped of her ability to run and play with peers. She is confined to her home like a prisoner while her mother walks free. What has this world come to when this is allowed to happen. Looking at the photos, my heart screams out. How could anyone ever allow this to continue – that little girl was in excruciating pain every single day in her mother’s care. As a mother, I want to punch Mothershead in the throat. My child stubs a toe and I feel bad, to cause this type of pain and injury to a child, you truly have to be a monster.
Jennifer Mothershead’s trial is now underway, and still she shows no signs of remorse, or any emotion for that matter. We have learned that the baby girl’s name is Kelsey. Kelsey is still unable to go out in the sun until dusk and is unable to go in a pool, as the chlorine is too much for eyes. As horrible as this all is, there still seems to be a ray of hope to hold on to. Kelsey is receiving outstanding medical attention, and has been placed on various medications, and her sight is slowly getting better. Her family hopes the improvements will continue, and are raising Kelsey with love and strength.
There has been many questions surrounding the motive Mothershead had to hurt her daughter so terribly. It is now coming forward that she used the result of the abuse she inflicted to garner financial support and sympathy for herself. She was placing bleach in Kelsey’s eyes to continue to receive money from concerned friends. This woman is a monster, plain and simple. Only an evil person could hurt a child in the ways that Mothershead hurt Kelsey.
On October 4, 2013, Mothershead was found guilty and convicted of the charges against her with the jurors finding aggravating factors which amounted to the torture of Kelsey. The conviction will allow prosecutors to ask for sentence beyond what would normally be the maximum of 10 years and 3 months. Prosecutos will be asking for 30 – 50 years in prison.
As scheduled, Mothershead was sentenced on November 15, 2013. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison. The sentence is not equal to the pain Kelsey suffered and the obstacles which she will after to overcome for the rest of her life, however, this sentence is as close to justice as we can get, and for that I am thankful. With the trial and sentencing over, Kelsey and her family now have the opportunity to live their life not waiting for court dates to come and go. Kelsey’s family remains dedicated to ensure that Kelsey is receiving the absolute best of everything, including medical care. There is hope that Kelsey’s condition will continue to improve over time. Considering what this baby girl lived through, she is clearly a fighter, and I would not say there is anything impossible for her to overcome. Between her fighting spirit and loving family, I am confident that Kelsey will grow to do great things, and will inspire many.
I would like to take a moment to thank Kelsey’s family for all they have done, and for keeping us posted on Kelsey’s condition. You have been wonderful, and have shown great strength. All of you and Kelsey will forever be in our hearts.