Letters: Wednesday, May 10, 2006
A Scary “Syndrome”

To the editor: I wanted to congratulate you on your excellent handling of an awful story (“Taking the Cuffs Off at Carswell,” May 3, 2006) that I wish could say surprised me, especially the part about Cynthia Lyda, the inmate believed to have injured her child due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

As a native Texan who has been doing investigative reporting for nearly a quarter century, I’ve dealt with mistaken and malicious false allegations of child abuse and neglect which are rarely cleared, even though evidence of innocence exists —especially in cases labeled as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or MSP.

Years ago I talked with a federal public defender who was working with Cynthia Lyda. There appeared to be more than enough objective medical evidence of genetic disorders relating to her children’s health problems, but — no surprise — that was not accepted by the court. I wondered what had happened to her and am so very sorry to learn from your story what her condition is.

You are correct about the willingness of many officials to assume faking on the part of patients and prisoners. I hope you also know, or will look into, the reality that anyone so labeled is likely to not receive appropriate medical attention, sometimes with fatal outcome, because their medical conditions will be ignored and dismissed because of the MSP label in the medical record.

That label is also a boon for insurance companies that don’t want to pay for needed treatment and surgery. And it is terrific cover for doctors and others who quite often diagnose by Immaculate Perception (never seeing the person they label or the putative child victim).

All that and, to this day, there is not one scintilla of documentation for any of the purported facts that Roy Meadow crammed into his original August 1977 article in the Lancet that changed the world and continues to dismember thousands of families worldwide. It is my firm belief that he — not the mothers his projection has flattened — was the attention-seeking person, and his ploy certainly worked.

I’ve worked with many attorneys and families through the years, in Texas, across the United States, and around the world and have seen such sad consequences. Cynthia Lyda’s case is among the saddest but, regrettably, not the worst.

Again, kudos on a terrifically well-written and important story on a tricky topic.

Barbara Bryan

Davidson, N.C.

Worries in Lake Worth

To the editor: Peter Gorman’s story “Banned for Life” (April 19, 2006), illustrates the ever-increasing divide between parents and school administrators. I credit Mr. Hill for taking action to ensure injured students received medical aid. His medical response, however, does not override his responsibility to respect school officials. He shows no regret for his inappropriate language or misconduct.

At the same time, school administrators should take responsibility for the implementation of policies and procedures within their district. The Lake Worth district asks parents to complete an emergency care consent form. Employees should understand the actions they have the authority to take if a student needs emergency medical treatment.

I hope Mr. Allen will get to share in his children’s school activities again. I also hope that no other student has to suffer through the mayhem of a power struggle between parents and school administrators.

Elrette Anderson


To the editor: Interesting article by my brother, Peter Gorman, about macho man Allen Hill, who was banned from Lake Worth school grounds because of his surly and intimidating behavior.

Is he like Robert Duvall in The Great Santini, a know-it-all bully who terrorizes his own family, or is he a dedicated coach and emergency medical technician who is trying to do the right thing for the young players on the school teams — but is being unfairly criticized by dingbat bureaucrats?

It sounds like he means the best for the kids, but because of his explosive temperament, should be kept off school property, especially someone of his physique. It is a suspicious combination.

Although I don’t support the war in Iraq, I respect Hill for being willing to do his tour of duty there as a National Guardsman. As a retired New York City Police Department lieutenant, and as an attorney who spent about 14 years prosecuting police officers for various kinds of misconduct, it does bother me that Hill would quit the police department soon after his SWAT team shooting. If the shooting was legal and within police guidelines, I would have thought Hill would stay on the job and clear his name.

It may be unfair to Hill to say this, but the best cops walk (and talk) softly. Cops learn that both on and off the duty, they have to pick their fights carefully. Hill seems like someone who lacks the discretion and social skills to know where and when to pick his fights.

Michael J. Gorman

Whitestone, NY

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