Sophie Hartman is contesting charges of assault and domestic violence
A 31-year-old white woman living in Washington has been charged with assault and domestic violence after it was revealed that she allegedly put her black adopted six-year-old daughter through 473 “unnecessary” surgeries.
Sophie Hartman, a white woman, adopted two Black daughters in May 2019 from Zambia. On 17 March this year, the two children were taken away from her. Doctors at a hospital where Ms Hartman had taken one daughter, alerted authorities of the suspicious medical history of the child.
Court documents reviewed by Business Insider say that Ms Hartman admitted her six-year-old daughter to the Seattle Children’s Hospital in February for a 16-day stay. However, doctors found the child to be healthy and alerted the state’s department of children, youth and families.
Dr Rebecca Wiester, the director of the Seattle Children’s Hospital, in her letter to the authorities said that the child was facing “profound risk” at the hands of her caretaker. She also asked the authorities to dig deeper in investigating Ms Hartman.
Dr Wiester said: “All the available evidence obtained during the course of her admission suggests [the child] is a healthy young six-year-old who would continue to benefit from a de-escalation of medical support and normalisation of her childhood experience.”
The six-year-old has, meanwhile, been weaned off all medication and is recovering with no support of a feeding tube or a wheelchair or braces. Ms Hartman had allegedly forced the child to use braces and a wheelchair despite doctors recommending that she didn’t need them in the first place.
The court documents also claimed that Ms Hartman kept a journal in which authorities found a sentence that reads: “When it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator.”
Ms Hartman’s attorneys deny the allegations against her.
In a statement from her attorneys Adam Shapiro and Jessica Goldman, Ms Hartman’s child was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, “alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC), by one of the few expert paediatric neurologists in the world from Duke University and by a neurologist at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma.”
Ms Hartman’s attorneys allege that “the child has been evaluated and treated by the doctors at Duke for three years.”
The King County prosecuting attorney’s office said: “This is not based on one investigator. It’s not based off of a quick investigation. This was months of investigation by police and several experts who weighed in.”
But her attorneys say that “contrary to the allegations of the King County Prosecuting Attorney, the child’s diagnosis was made by more than one doctor, is legitimate, and is based on a substantial record beyond the reports and information provided by Ms Hartman.”
Ms Hartman had chronicled her work in Africa in a book that she claims led her to her adoptions. When she made public that her youngest adopted child had been diagnosed with AHC, more attention came her way. A GoFundMe page was set for a wheelchair.
The list of procedures on the child dates back to 2016, the court documents reveal. It also said that on her iPad and iPhone, she had allegedly searched for “cochlear implants Black child,” “how to get paid to take care of a member of the family with a disability,” “making a pretend model of hearing aid,” and “funeral songs.”