Northern California Mother Fights for Justice against Medical ‘Misdiagnosis’ that Has Led to ‘Wrongful Incarcerations’  


By Emeline Crowder and Vivian Nguyen

RIO VISTA, CA – Michelle Lopez, a Northern California mother, is fighting for justice and reform for parents accused of shaken baby syndrome (SBS)/abusive head trauma (AHT), according to a press release published by Elijah’s Truth Journey.

ETJ said “her advocacy efforts are driven by the wrongful accusations of her son, Tre’ Kenneth Clay, who is accused of the murder of his son, Elijah.”

Lopez explains that “the controversy surrounding SBS/AHT revolves around flawed diagnosis. Despite its popularity in the early 2000s, the SBS hypothesis has never been scientifically validated, leading to numerous wrongful incarcerations and convictions,” claims a statement released in 2019 by the Innocence Network.

The press release cites “medical experts,” who charge “there are more than 80 different preexisting conditions that can mimic SBS/AHT.” As a result, Lopez asserts, in the case of rare diseases, it is common for medical professionals to misdiagnose the cause of infant death as SBS/AHT.

Lopez describes her son’s story as characteristic of this medical misdiagnosis, or “medical kidnapping.” In the press release, Lopez said “her son is facing felony charges” for child abuse, “despite Elijah needing critical medical intervention for a major respiratory disease instead.”

The Innocence Network statement indicates that Lopez’s experience is not unique, reporting the SBS/AHT diagnosis “has served as the basis in thousands of cases where children have been separated from their parents and caretakers have been sent to prison.”

Yet, since SBS/AHT theory was popularized in 1972, the statement claims there has been a “dearth of evidence and no validation to support the ‘diagnosis’ or its criteria.”

According to the Innocence Network “this has led and continues to lead to incorrect accusations of abuse and wrongful convictions,” even after “several developments that undermine core SBS/AHT tenets.”

The Innocence Network statement added that “this area of medicine has required, and continues to require, more evidence to prove innocent explanations than to presume guilt.”

Consequently, the Innocence Network points out that “caretakers otherwise described as loving, calm, and caring have been convicted of murder and sentenced to death or anywhere from years to life in prison.”

The statement concludes there is “an urgent need for medical reform to ensure professionals diagnose them correctly instead of needlessly separating families from their babies and children who are at their most vulnerable medically.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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