Arianna and D’rontae Brooks have filed a lawsuit against Dayton Children’s Hospital; Dr. Kelly Liker, Child Abuse Pediatrician; Dr. Elizabeth Ey, Pediatric Radiologist; Montgomery County Children Services; and Michelle Terry, CPS Caseworker. You can find the full civil complaint here.
The Brooks welcomed twins in March 2021. Born at 33 weeks’ gestation, their son, A’mir, was born weighing 4 lbs 4 oz, and their daughter, Aniyah, weighed 3 lbs 14 oz. After a couple weeks in the NICU, they were sent home, both happy and healthy. They attended regular check-ups, and the pediatrician noted that the children were thriving and reaching all their milestones right on time.
When the twins were two months old, Arianna noticed a bump on Aniyah’s arm. Upon touching her arm, the baby screamed. The couple rushed to the emergency room at a local hospital. After Aniyah was found to have a fracture, she underwent a full body scan, which revealed over 30 fractures in various stages of healing. A’mir was found to have fractures identical to those of his sister. A child abuse pediatrician became involved and immediately told investigators that there was no explanation for the fractures other than abuse, despite the fact that the children had no bruises, soft tissue damage, or other signs of abuse.
No one considered any explanation other than child abuse. Quickly, police arrived at the hospital and coerced the parents to accompany them to the station for hours of interrogation (without legal counsel present). When they were allowed to return to the hospital to be with their babies, doctors had put a cast on each of the twins’ arms. The casts were left on for less than 72 hours, and no other care was given to treat the fractures. The parents were forced to leave the hospital without their babies shortly thereafter, despite the fact that Arianna was still breastfeeding. One day later, the twins were sent to live with foster parents. CPS denied the family’s repeated requests to send the babies to stay with family out-of-state. Arianna and D’rontae were only allowed to see the twins once a week for two hours; however, Arianna continued to provide her babies with breastmilk throughout the separation by pumping.
In the meantime, they missed all their twins’ milestones, including their first smiles, the first time they rolled over, and moments they'll never get back.
The parents sought second opinions from four independent experts experienced in differentiating between child abuse and medical conditions that result in findings that mimic child abuse. Court reports show that all four of these medical experts believed the twins to have metabolic bone disease and a connective tissue disorder.
Magistrate Marshall Lachman found no abuse and ordered that the babies return home with court supervision for six months. However, Paige Heneghan—Ohio CPS attorney—refused to return the twins home to their parents. Her actions were upheld by Judge Tony Cappizi. It took another six months until Judge Cappizi finally ordered for the babies to come home. In total, the Brooks twins needlessly spent 341 days away from their parents, in 3 different foster homes.
When asked how the Family Justice Resource Center made a difference in her case, Arianna said, “Prior to working with the Family Justice Resource Center, everything seemed to be at a standstill in our case. With their help, our attorneys were able to find qualified experts to provide objective evaluations of our twins’ medical findings. The FJRC also supported our family throughout the entirety of our case. Because of their outpouring of love, support and resources, our family was able to be made whole once again. For that, we are forever grateful.”