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Report: State of Massachusetts takes children at 1 a.m. without warrant after baselessly claiming they were in danger

 Parents Sarah Perkins and Josh Sabey took their 14-week-old child to the emergency room just after 2 a.m. last July, concerned about a fever. However, what followed was a series of inspections that would eventually lead to child protective services taking custody of the small child in the middle of the night, a Washington Post investigation reveals.

During their hospital visit, the boy underwent an X-ray for a possible lung infection. A healed fracture on the rib cage of the baby was found, a symptom that is consistent with either blunt force trauma or “someone squeezing the child too tight," according to the physician consulted in this case. It was determined that the injury was a result of "nonaccidental trauma," and the couple was then suspected of child abuse. A social worker immediately questioned the parents at the hospital.

In the coming days, additional questioning from social workers occurred with the parents, as well as the 3-year-old sibling of the infant. The children were subject to further medical examinations, their home inspected, yet no further evidence of abuse was found. 

The same week, the family was sent home from the hospital with a safety plan, approved by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, with a case worker following up the very next day. However, later that night, around 1 a.m., three Waltham, Mass., police officers and two emergency response workers arrived at their residence to take custody of the two children. 

The parents argued with police for an hour after being told there was "new information" that led authorities to believe the children were in imminent danger. The parents allegedly raised concerns about food allergies and breastfeeding, to which they were reportedly told by the state agents "our food plan is to call the pediatrician in the morning, and we’ll figure it out from there."

The parents appear to have conducted themselves calmly in their video recording of the event, provided in the report below:

After the children were taken by the state, their grandmother signed a sworn affidavit that she had recently lifted the baby from his car seat and, as his head began to roll back, grasped him tightly. A radiologist also submitted an affidavit stating that he agreed the incident was a probable explanation for the injury. However, the state continued with its investigation.

After 16 hours in foster care, the children were allowed to be taken by their grandparents, and two days later the parents were granted daily visitations. It would take nearly a month for the parents to regain custody of their children after a hearing on August 10, 2022, a full 29 days after taking their child to the emergency room.

The parents are now requesting their records be amended to remove “a supported allegation of child abuse.”

The case has accumulated approximately $50,000 in legal fees for the family.

According to a study by ProPublica, child protective services agencies inspect the homes of approximately 3.5 million children per year without a warrant, resulting in 5% of the children being found to be victims of physical or sexual abuse.

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