The State vs Colleen Hauser
Posted by shadmia on May 24, 2009
Colleen Hauser, 40, took her son Daniel Hauser, 13 – who is suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma – and fled the state of Minnesota in defiance of a judge’s order to have Daniel undergo chemotherapy.
Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg reacted by issuing an arrest warrant for Colleen Hauser and has ordered her son to be held in the custody of Brown County Family Services so that he may receive the chemotherapy.
The whereabouts of mother and son are unknown but they are believed to be heading towards Mexico in search of alternative treatment. The FBI, ICE and Interpol have joined the hunt and are on the lookout for the pair.
The type of cancer that Daniel has – Hodgkin’s lymphoma – is considered to be a highly curable in children (around 90%), if treated with chemotherapy and radiation. If left untreated doctor’s say Daniel’s chances drop to around 5%. They consider it critical that Daniel receives treatment as soon as possible.
“It would be hard to tell you that each day is vital, but I think with each week that passes, there is risk that is being added to him,” said Dr. Joseph Neglia, head of pediatric oncology at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.
Colleen Hauser testified earlier that she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives. Daniel’s lymphoma was diagnosed in January, and six rounds of chemotherapy were recommended. He and his parents sought other opinions, but the doctors agreed with the initial assessment.
After going through one session of chemotherapy, Daniel and his parents testified that the chemotherapy made him sick, and that they feared it would ultimately kill him. Judge Rodenberg ordered the parents to have their son evaluated again. He wrote that he would not order chemotherapy if Daniel’s prognosis was poor. But if the outlook was good, it appeared chemotherapy and possibly radiation would be in the boy’s best interest.
The family was due in court Tuesday (5/19/09) to report the results of a chest X-ray and their arrangements for an oncologist. But only Daniel’s father appeared. He told Rodenberg he last saw his wife Monday (5/18/09) evening.
“She said she was going to leave,” Hauser testified. “She said, `That’s all you need to know.’ And that’s all I know.”
The family’s doctor, James Joyce, testified by telephone that he examined Daniel on Monday, and an X-ray showed his tumor had grown to the size it was when he was first diagnosed. He said Daniel was at risk of substantial physical harm and needed immediate action.
“He had basically gotten back all the trouble he had in January,” the doctor said.
Dr. Joyce testified that he offered to make appointments for Daniel with oncologists, but the Hausers declined. He also said he tried to give Daniel more information about lymphoma but that the three left in a rush.
Judge Rodenberg issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Colleen Hauser and ruled her in contempt of court. Rodenberg also ordered that Daniel be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated by a cancer specialist for treatment.
State statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child, Rodenberg wrote. The statutes say alternative and complementary health care methods aren’t enough.
He also wrote that Daniel, who has a learning disability and cannot read, did not understand the risks and benefits of chemotherapy and didn’t believe he was ill.
Daniel had earlier testified he believed the chemo would kill him and told the judge in private testimony unsealed later that if anyone tried to force him to take it, “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.”
On Thursday, Anthony Hauser, pleaded for the return of his son. He asked his wife to do what’s best for Danny.
“If you’re out there, please bring Danny home so we can decide as a family what Danny’s treatment should be,” Anthony Hauser said in a brief statement to his wife, Colleen.
“I know you’re scared,” he said in his public plea Thursday. “I know that you left out of fear, maybe without thinking it all the way through. … We sure can’t do what’s best for Danny with both of you on the run so please give me a call.”
Phillip Landis, a leader in the organization, Nemenhah Band, joined Anthony Hauser in asking Colleen Hauser to return to Brown County with her son.
“Our counsel and our plea to Colleen is to come home,” Landis said in a news release. “There are better ways to handle this. Come home. Bring that boy home.”
When asked if Anthony Hauser’s public plea Thursday for his wife and son to return home had resulted in calls from Colleen, Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Jason Seidl said he couldn’t comment.
The sheriff’s office in Brown County, Minn., issued a felony arrest warrant Thursday for Colleen Hauser. The warrant was for deprivation of parental rights, and an earlier arrest warrant was based on a contempt of court charge. Brown County Attorney James Olson said the parental rights belong to Brown County family services, which was granted custody of Daniel to get him to a pediatric oncologist.
“If she comes back today or tomorrow, I would dismiss it,” Olson said of the charges. “The reason was not to punish her.”
Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann also promised Colleen Hauser that authorities “will not take an enforcement action if you have shown a good faith effort to come back.” If convicted on the new charges, she faces up to two years in jail on each of two counts, plus fines. But authorities said they issued the new warrant mainly to ease her extradition if she is found in the United States.