Here is a brief overview of the heart-breaking story of Yvonne Eldridge. It is an incredible story of lies and false allegations, of egregious misuse of public trust, of an astonishing breach in the criminal justice system, of courage to stand against a brutal system gone haywire, a system intent on the systematic destruction of a loving and close-knit family. A story of perseverence under the most supremely difficult of circumstances. A story so outrageous and so shocking you won't believe it could happen. Not here. Not in America. But happen it did, and in fact, is still going on in the quiet, unassuming town of Walnut Creek, California.
A warm, caring foster mom of two medically fragile infants, Yvonne was falsely accused of child endangerment by an unscrupulous doctor. Even though there was no evidence to back up his claims, Yvonne was put on trial. During the grand jury, a so-called medical "expert" testified under oath that Yvonne suffered from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (even though a scientific diagnosis was never made), and therefore, nothing she said could be believed.
The Prosecutor had abundant evidence Yvonne was not guilty of any of the charges, but ruthlessly and relentlessly prosecuted her anyway. Without enough money to hire her own attorney, Yvonne was forced to rely on the Public Defender's office for her defense.
The children's medical records (10,000 pages worth), which conclusively proved Yvonne's innocence, were removed from area hospitals and kept in the sole possession of the Prosecutor's office. At no time throughout the entire investigation and trial did Yvonne's Public Defender possess his own copy of the medical records. Additional medical witnesses called by the prosecution either deliberately gave false testimony, or were only shown selected portions of the children's medical records to comment upon.
In spite of this, Yvonne had plenty of evidence proving her innocence. Amazingly, only a small portion of it was ever presented to the jury at her trial by her Public Defender. Although she had doctors, nurses and credible character witnesses who asked to testify on her behalf, her Public Defender did not call a single witness to the stand during her trial. Yvonne testified on her own behalf, but by then the prosecution had convinced the jury that she was guilty of two counts of Child Endangerment, and was a pathological liar.
Acting on the advice of her attorney, Yvonne was not allowed to tell her side of the story to the press. The Prosecutor, however, publicly slandered and villified Yvonne as a heinous child abuser in the press, making numerous false statements and charges.
With only a small portion of the critical evidence proving her innocence presented at her trial, the jury understandably convicted her and she was sentenced to 40 months in state prison. Yvonne's sentence has been temporarily set aside and she is currently free on bail pending the outcome of her four year struggle to obtain a retrial where all the evidence can be presented and her side of the story can be told.
Now, with a new attorney, Yvonne is currently awaiting another hearing on her motion for a retrial. With the truth bound to come out in a retrial, the Prosecutor has been working energetically and vigorously to prevent another trial from happening.
There is far more to this story than we present here. Please follow the site links for more details of the long and continuing struggle of a couragous family against a most shocking and egregious misuse of public trust.
Yvonne Eldridge is the kindest, sweetest, most caring and gracious person you'll ever meet. Married to her husband Dennis for almost 29 years, the Eldridges have three daughters: Tamara, Amber and Chandra, who were honor students and now college graduates. All three are now married and have brought six grandchildren into the family.
Yvonne's incredible ordeal began in 1987. Because it was so difficult to obtain foster parents for critically ill and terminally ill children, and because Dennis and Yvonne had previously been foster parents to such children, the San Francisco Department of Social Services contacted Yvonne and Dennis about a new program that was being formed.
This unique program brought high risk and medically fragile infants into a warm and caring home environment instead of leaving them to live or die in the sterile environment of a hospital. The program included, but was not limited to, drug-addicted babies, AIDS babies, babies with severe lung disease, and so forth. This pilot program would come to be known as "Baby Moms".
After much prayer and thought, and with love to share, Dennis, Yvonne and their three daughters made a family decision to become one of the first "Baby Moms" in the program. Their first baby through this program was Glenisha who had full-blown AIDS. Her parents were unable to care for her, but did not want her to die in the hospital. So the Eldridges brought her into their home in the spring of 1987, knowing she was only expected to live just a few more months. Dennis, Yvonne and their three daughters grew to love this baby and watching her die was hard on the entire family.
On August 11, 1988, in recognition of their willingness to bring critically and terminally ill children into their home, Dennis and Yvonne Eldridge were honored with the "Great American Families" award. They were one of only six families chosen nationwide for this honor, and were presented with their award at the White House by then First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Dennis and Yvonne were outstanding foster parents, and received many accolades for the love, warmth and wonderful care they gave the babies and small children in their home. Here are just a few quotes about Yvonne and Dennis as foster parents:
"The Eldridges are dedicated Baby Moms. Their energy, experience, knowledge and commitment to our babies mirrors the very essence of what Baby Moms is all about."
Castellano, San Francisco Department of Social Services, Fragile
Infant Special Care Program Coordinator
G. Nickerson, M.D., Pediatric Pulmonologist, Children's Hospital
of Orange County
Elaine Brown, Emergency Licensing Worker, Contra Costa County Social Services Department
Tasha and Denisha, two critically ill infants, were placed in the Eldridge home through the Baby Moms Program. Tasha came in October, 1987 and Denisha in January, 1991. Yvonne's legal problems and her hellish nightmare began when the Eldridges placed Tasha on their health plan through Kaiser Walnut Creek. Dr. Marc Usatin became Tasha's Pediatrician and primary care provider.
Tasha came into the Eldridge home at seven months of age, weighing only seven pounds seven ounces. She was unable to roll over or to lift her head up by herself. She had profound medical problems which are briefly summarized in Tasha's medical summary.
Denisha also had numerous and serious medical problems, which are likewise briefly described in Denisha's medical summary. We have to summarize Tasha's and Denisha's medical histories because they are far too lengthy to reproduce here. For the first five years of Tasha's life and several years of Denisha's life, there are 10,000 pages of medical records!
To make an exceedingly long story very short, after providing questionable care for Tasha and Denisha, and making offensive sexual advances to both Yvonne and Yvonne's teenage daughter (which were forcefully rejected, and yes, we have witnesses), Dr. Usatin began a systematic crusade to pin the blame for Tasha's and Denisha's medical problems on Yvonne. Beginning in October, 1991 Dr. Usatin began making an ever-expanding list of false charges and allegations against Yvonne to Contra Costa Children's Protective Services. After a year-long investigation, Contra Costa County concluded that the charges were unfounded and refused to prosecute.
Just four months after the District Attorney declined to file charges, Yvonne's daughter, Amber, gave birth to her first son and the Eldridge's first grandchild. Shortly after giving birth, Amber was shocked to see Dr. Usatin glaring at her from the doorway of her hospital room.
It wasn't long before two individuals, accompanied by two Walnut Creek police officers, entered Amber's hospital room. Without identifying herself, one of the individuals marched over to Amber's newborn son, picked him up and immediately left the room.
In a state of utter shock and horror, Amber began screaming for her precious son. The two police officers stood nearby with embarrassed grins on their faces. After a short period of time, Amber was told that the Department of Social Services was placing her baby in a foster home. Amber had to wait for four very long days before she was told where they had taken her baby boy. The Eldridges later learned that this episode was the brain child of Dr. Usatin.
In Juvenile Court, the Department of Social Services claimed that Amber's son should be placed in a foster home because Amber was living with her parents. Keep in mind that a year-long investigation of Dr. Usatin's accusations against Yvonne had just shown his claims to be unfounded.
Incredibly, the Department of Social Services threatened Amber that another foster family wanted to adopt her baby and in order for her to be given custody of her son, they said she must sign a document with the following three provisions:
1. Amber had to permanently move out of her parents home
(with her son). This meant she had to go on welfare.
Amber courageously refused to sign this outlandish and false document. True to their word, the Department of Social Services did not release Amber's son, but the family kept right on fighting for his release. Persistence paid off, and Amber was finally given temporary custody of her son. Her son, however, was now in the system, and Social Services, knowing Amber had not gone along with their program, had other plans for her baby son.
Dr. Usatin, meanwhile, disappointed that the Contra Costa County District Attorney concluded that there was no case here, continued his campaign to destroy Yvonne and was eventually able to convince an attorney in the California State Attorney General's office by the name of Joyce Blair to prosecute.
All of the originals of the children's medical records were removed from area hospitals by the Prosecutor. Usually in cases such as this, copies of the medical records are made and the originals left with the hospital, but in this case, the Prosecutor removed all the originals and kept them in her own private office. This made it difficult for Yvonne to defend herself. It eventually cost her $4,000 of her own money to obtain copies of the medical records.
Denisha was a just a baby and was in the Eldridge's care for just ten months. Tasha, however, was with them for four and one half years. Yvonne and Dennis were the only Mommy and Daddy Tasha knew, and Tasha was very much a loved little girl. To the Eldridges, to lose Tasha was to lose a daughter.
The heart-breaking day finally came when Denisha and five year old Tasha were tearfully taken from the Eldridge's home by Social Services. This was an exceedingly heart-wrenching event, not only for Dennis and Yvonne, but for their three daughters and Tasha and Denisha as well.
They were suddenly yanked from their home, their Mommy, their Daddy and their three older doting sisters and carted away by strangers. Unbelievably, Yvonne's parents, who were also foster parents, had their foster children removed from their home as well, even though they did not live with Yvonne and no charges were ever filed against them.
After Dr. Usatin's baseless allegations against Yvonne became public, media coverage of the proceedings brought an enormous amount of pain to the entire Eldridge family. Here is just a small sampling:
1. The Eldridge's three daughters were shunned by their
friends at school.
Because of these concerns, the Eldridges decided to relocate to the Pacific Northwest. The family packed up all their belongings and headed north on Interstate 5. They found a home and moved in, hoping to forget the nightmare they had just left behind in Walnut Creek. Unfortunately, this was not to be.
At 11:15 A.M. on a cool February morning in 1994, the Eldridges were startled by the sound of someone banging on their front door. As they approached the door to open it, they saw their home surrounded by police officers, including Detective Gorman from Walnut Creek.
Upon opening the door, a Eugene police officer handed them a search warrant for their home and an arrest warrant for Amber's little 11 month old son. A Lane County Department of Social Services worker proclaimed that the little boy was to be delivered to the Contra Costa Department of Social Services. Rather than wait for 15 minutes for Amber to arrive home for lunch, the social worker immediately picked up the boy and left.
You can imagine Amber's pain and anger, upon coming home, to find her precious baby boy had been forcibly taken (again), and was to be placed in a foster home. With tears streaming down her face, Amber asked why they took her son. She was told it was because she failed to keep an appointment for a "hearing" in Juvenile Court. Amber, who never received notice of any "hearing", angrily retorted, "It would have been nice to know about this so-called hearing."
The officers conducted a four-hour search of the residence, and confiscated a number of items (which have never been returned). One wonders about some of the things they took, such as:
* All of the Eldridges' copies of Tasha's medical
Upon reading the search warrant and the unique declaration attached to it, the Eldridges were astounded to read a statement by Dr. Usatin and Dr. Schrier that upon entering the Eldridge's home to execute the search warrant, the police officers "would most likely find [Amber's son] to be in dire need of medical attention."
Before the social worker left the home with the baby boy, she told Detective Gorman with a puzzled look on her face, "this baby looks perfectly healthy to me". As he was being carried out the door, one of the officers was heard to say, "the baby looks fine to me".
Later that same day, the Eldridges purchased an airline ticket for Amber so she could fly down to California to regain custody of her son. He was so upset and confused that he became ill and refused to eat. In an effort to be near her son, Amber was forced to drop out of school and relocate to the Bay Area.
The Department of Social Services informed Amber that she was in denial about her mother's "mental illness" and that her son would remain in foster care until she received the proper counseling. Simply put, if Amber wanted her son back, she had to do what Social Services wanted, when they wanted, and for as long as they wanted. The entire Eldridge family felt totally frustrated and utterly helpless.
While Amber was in California trying to regain custody of her son, Yvonne learned that Dr. Usatin had contacted the Contra Costa County Department of Social Services and told them that if they failed to put Amber's son in a foster home, he "would quit sending referrals to Social Services and no longer testify at [their] hearings."
Amber finally was awarded custody of her son after he was in a foster home for five months. The case was immediately closed. After all this, the only negative comment about Amber the Department of Social Services could muster was that she was too attached to her family.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving in 1994, Yvonne was told by her attorney that a prosecuting attorney by the name of Joyce Blair was going to seek a Grand Jury indictment against Yvonne for "child endangerment" caused by her mental illness of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP).
The Grand Jury was a foregone conclusion and amounted to a Kangaroo court for the following reasons:
1. A Grand Jury is conducted by the Prosecuting Attorney
In other words, you are at the mercy of the Prosecuting Attorney. The system assumes the Prosecutor is acting fairly, objectively and in good faith. Dr. Usatin, Dr. Schrier, Det. Gorman and Dr. Albin, cooperating with the Prosecuting Attorney, made one false statement after another to the Grand Jury.
Due to the format of the Grand Jury, the defense was not allowed to refute or cross-examine these false witnesses who outdid themselves in the sheer volume of their outrageous and ludicrous testimony. There was never any doubt as to the outcome of the Grand Jury, even before it started. Right on queue, Yvonne was indicted on two counts of "child endangerment", one count for Tasha, the other for Denisha.
By the time the case came to trial, the Eldridges had already exhausted their finances in legal fees and were unable to afford another lawyer, so they were forced to rely upon the Public Defender's office for their defense.
This proved to be most unfortunate, since not much of a defense was ever mounted. Almost none of the 10,000 pages of medical reports from Tasha and Denisha proving Yvonne was not guilty of any of the charges were presented to the jury. Doctors, nurses, social workers and other credible witnesses who had worked directly with Yvonne asked to be allowed to testify on her behalf. The Public Defender, however, did not allow any of them to testify.
The only witness called to testify was Yvonne herself on her own behalf. Her testimony, however, was not believed by the jury because the prosecution had pulled the magic bunny out of the hat and convinced the jury that Yvonne was a liar and indeed guilty of their false allegations. Dr. Schrier, one of the prosecution's star "expert" witnesses at the Grand Jury, testified that Yvonne was mentally ill, suffered from MSBP, was a pathological liar and nothing she said could be believed.
This was ludicrous testimony. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Yvonne is a devout, God-fearing Christian who believes any sort of untruth or deception is morally and ethically wrong. She is completely trustworthy and truthful. She does not have this disorder. She was never objectively and clinically tested or diagnosed with this disorder. The only contact Dr. Schrier had with Yvonne prior to his testimony was a 30 minute interview conducted in his office under highly contrived and false pretenses. It went like this:
Tasha had just been taken from her home. Detective Gorman of the Walnut Creek police department called Yvonne on the phone and offered her a way of getting Tasha back. If she would just come for a meeting to the office of Dr. Schrier (whom she had never met before), she could "clear up this whole thing" and get Tasha back. The perfect setup. The trap was loaded, set and ready to go.
After just a 30 minute conversation, Dr. Schrier pronounced his "diagnosis". Yvonne was suffering from MSBP. Several things should be noted at this point.
1. It was later learned that Dr. Schrier actually made
his "diagnosis" of Yvonne before even meeting or speaking with her.
Just as the outcome of the Grand Jury was never in doubt even before it started, the outcome of Yvonne's trial at the Superior Court of the state of California was likewise a foregone conclusion. Det. Gorman, Drs. Usatin and Albin, along with the Prosecutor, repeated the performance they gave at the Grand Jury, telling one bold-faced lie after another. They carefully avoided quoting the medical records of Tasha and Denisha, but instead referred to them in broad, sweeping characterizations which were absolutely wrong and totally the opposite of what the medical records really showed.
Unbelievably, Yvonne's Public Defender did not properly cross-examine these false witnesses. He did not produce a list of all the false testimony they gave under oath. Amazingly, he did not even produce witnesses of his own to contradict all the false testimony. He did not discuss the mountain of evidence in the children's medical records that showed that Yvonne was an outstanding and loving caregiver and was not only very quick to notice problems that Tasha and Denisha were having, but also very quick to get them the medical help they needed.
Why Yvonne's Public Defender did not call any witnesses remains a mystery. It was certainly not because there weren't any to call. Doctors and nurses who were part of the medical team caring for Tasha and Denisha asked to be allowed to testify that the charges against Yvonne were false, but the Public Defender did not allow them to testify. Yvonne had school officials at Tasha's school, social workers who worked with Tasha and Denisha, Yvonne's three daughters, her husband and numerous other credible witnesses who were ready to testify on her behalf, but Yvonne's Public Defender did not allow any of them to testify.
Yvonne had 10,000 pages of medical records which clearly showed beyond a shadow of a doubt the Prosecution's witnesses were lying through their teeth. For some reason, the Public Defender presented hardly any of it to set the record straight.
Contributing to the problem, no doubt, was the fact that the Public Defender did not possess his own copy of Tasha's and Denisha's medical records. Throughout the entire trial, the only copies of the medical records were safely locked away in the personal office of the Prosecutor. Whenever the Public Defender wanted to view them, he had to make an appointment to go to the Prosecutor's personal office to do so. Was he shown all of the records, or just the portions of the records the Prosecutor wanted him to see? We'll probably never know. We do know that to this day, the Judge has not been shown all of the documentation that should have been presented at the trial.
Understandably, hearing only the Prosecution's side of things, the jury found Yvonne guilty of two counts of child endangerment and the Judge sentenced her to 40 months in prison.
Almost nine years after it started, Yvonne's hellish nightmare is still going on. Her sentence has been temporarily set aside and she is currently free on bail while attempting to obtain a retrial. The Prosecutor has been vigorously throwing roadblock after roadblock in the way to prevent a retrial.
In September of 1996 Yvonne's new attorney, Ms. Zenia Gilg and her associate Ms. Kristen Judd presented a Motion for Retrial to the court. The motion totaled 1,400 pages filled with carefully documented instances of false testimony by the prosecution's witnesses during the trial. The retrial motion also documented numerous failures on the part of Yvonne's Public Defender during the trial to provide a reasonable defense. Based upon the overwhelming documentation contained in the Motion for Retrial, the Court granted Yvonne a retrial in January 1998.
The Prosecutor, as expected, appealed the retrial, claiming the Judge did not have authority to grant a retrial and that Yvonne's Public Defender did a good job of defending her during the trial. The Prosecutor's appeal was heard in February of 2000 before a panel of judges. The Eldridges were notified in April of 2000 the decision of the court was that Yvonne did receive a good defense (incredible!) and that Judge Spinetta (the Judge who heard Yvonne's case and granted her the retrial) could make the final decision whether or not Yvonne will receive a retrial.
The Eldridges are currently waiting for an "Evidentuary Hearing" to be scheduled. They are hoping and praying that this will be the hearing where they are finally granted a retrial, where all the evidence can be presented, where the whole truth can be told, and where all the many lies of unscrupulous individuals which have visciously destroyed Yvonne's good name and repeatedly tried to rip her family apart can finally be revealed.
Many false charges and accusations have been slanderously made against Yvonne. Lies too numerous to count have been made in the press and in the courtroom. None of them have any truth whatsoever. None of them can be backed up with objective facts and data. In fact, an overwhelming mountain of evidence exists proving Yvonne didn't do and couldn't have done what she was charged with doing.
As incredible as it may seem, the Prosecutor had all of this evidence before the trial even started, but she has gone ahead anyway with her efforts to destroy an innocent and beautiful human being. We tell here only a very small part of Yvonne's story. Innumerable insults, prejudice and injustices have been hurled at this family who represents the noblest of human virtues by trying to reach out, love and care for children few others wanted to care for.
Thank you for reading this short version of Yvonne's story. Just a small sampling of the Prosecution's outlandish charges can be found elsewhere on this web site. If you would like more information on the medical problems Tasha and Denisha struggled with, we provide a very brief overview. We invite you to continue to browse our site to become more acquainted with this breach of public trust so egregious it's hard to believe it could happen in America.
The Truth About the Charges
The Prosecution's case against Yvonne is totally riddled with deliberately false and misleading testimony. Interestingly, every charge the Prosecution made against Yvonne can be easily refuted by direct evidence which was in the possession of the Prosecutor before the trial even started.
Throughout Yvonne's trial, the Prosecutor and her two star witnesses, Dr. Usatin and Dr. Albin, repeated the same mantra over and over:
* Both Tasha and Denisha had only minor medical problems
Were we to attempt to document all of the innumerable lies, smears, innuendos, and false and misleading testimony made by the prosecution against Yvonne, it would fill an exceedingly large volume.
Instead of that, we present the following table containing just a very small sampling of perjurous testimony by prosecution witnesses, presented side by side with the real truth about each charge. Each of the facts we present here can be backed up by medical records and other objective documentation. Keep in mind, there is a great deal more to this story than we present here. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Claims by the Prosecution
TASHA'S MEDICAL PROBLEMS
* At seven months of age, Tasha weighed only seven
pounds seven ounces
The medical equipment Tasha required in order to come home from the hospital was as follows:
* NG feeding tube
If Tasha was basically a normal little girl, why did the doctors at the hospital require a feeding tube, a Kangaroo pump and oxygen? How many normal children do you know who have a home care nurse visit them periodically to check their feeding tubes and make sure all their medical equipment is functioning as it should?
As for exaggerating Tasha's symptoms, it would have been difficult for Yvonne to do that before she even took Tasha home for the first time. Apparently, doctors and nurses at the hospital thought Tasha had more than a few "minor" health problems before Yvonne even took her home from the hospital.
DENISHA'S MEDICAL PROBLEMS
* Prematurely born - 27 weeks
These were birth defects, not anything caused by Yvonne. These multiple and serious health problems are documented in the medical records long before Yvonne met them for the first time, or brought them into her home.
these sound like nearly normal children to you? Do these sound like
only "minor" health problems? Dr. Usatin and Dr. Albin testified these
children were in "prime condition". If this is "prime condition", one
what a "serious" problem might look like.
On numerous occasions, Yvonne told Dr. Usatin that she felt Tasha was on too many medications. Dr. Usatin's standard response was always "Yvonne, I know you are upset with Tasha being on all these medications, but Tasha needs them. If you withhold any of Tasha's medications, I will have to report you to Social Services."
About Dr. Usatin's testimony that Yvonne's exaggerations caused unnecessary medical procedures to be performed on the girls, it is interesting to note that every one of those "unnecessary" medical procedures was authorized and ordered by none other than Dr. Usatin himself, the primary care provider for both girls. In addition to that interesting little fact is this one: Other highly respected doctors and surgeons also were convinced the procedures were not only necessary, but vital for the girls' very survival.
The truth is, some of these conditions were life threatening. Both girls were born with these major medical conditions. Yvonne could not possibly have caused these birth defects. The medical records show they were present from birth, long before Yvonne even met them for the first time. Numerous doctors and nurses witnessed these defects and documented them extensively before Yvonne had even met them.
Yvonne did not make up or exaggerate any of the symptoms suffered by these girls. Yvonne was not the only one to witness them. Doctors and nurses that cared for these girls after coming into the Eldridge home personally witnessed the symptoms Yvonne is supposed to have made up. Yvonne's own three daughters and her husband witnessed them. Teachers and school officials at Tasha's school witnessed them.
you're still not convinced that these two girls had more than minor
medical problems, we have more information on the medical histories of
Tasha and Denisha.
* Yvonne made up the story that Tasha had headaches, constipation and seizures.
* Seizures and constipation are not side effects of the numerous medications Dr. Usatin had Tasha on.
* Tasha's seizures had never been observed by a health care provider.
* Dr. Usatin testified that the only side effect of all the medications he ordered for Tasha was drowsiness.
This is interesting testimony. Doctors, nurses and school officials who personally had to clean up Tasha's explosive diarrhea are ready to testify that it was far more than a figment of Yvonne's imagination. Tasha's home care nurse can testify to personally witnessing severe constipation, diarrhea and also seizures.
Numerous doctors and nurses at the hospital, as well as family and friends witnessed Tasha's seizures. After Tasha's colon surgery, her surgeon, Dr. de Lorimier wrote in her discharge summary:
"The patient's seizure disorder was evaluated by the Pediatric Neurology staff as Tasha had been having several absence seizures per day - However, her absence seizures were not prevented."
Yvonne was not the only one who noticed Tasha's migraines, either. Her home care nurse also observed the migraines suffered by the little girl, and wrote concerning them. Numerous Kaiser nurses observed Tasha having pain in her head. Dr. Usatin himself told Dennis and Yvonne that Tasha's Arnold Chairi malformation of the brain and her hydrocephalus (water on the brain) was the cause of Tasha's headaches.
As for drowsiness being the only side effect of the many medications Dr. Usatin ordered for Tasha, consider just a few of the side effects of these medications listed in the authoritative Physician's Desk Reference (we only list some of the side effects since the full list is too long to reproduce here):
Tasha's Medications Ordered By Dr. Usatin Medication Side Effects
* Worsening of seizures
* Muscle weakness
* Involuntary motor activity
* Mental confusion
* Abdominal discomfort and pain
Drowsiness is the only side
effect, huh? Interesting...
The broviac has both an inner sheath and an outer sheath. An independent examination of Tasha’s broviac line by Dr. Bruce Locke, senior surgeon at Kaiser Walnut Creek hospital, revealed a pin-sized hole in the external sheath, but the inner sheath was fully intact.
Had Yvonne tampered with the broviac, the blood spot on Tasha's sheet would have had to come from the inner sheath as well as the outer, but since there was no hole in the inner sheath, there could have been no leakage from it.
Yvonne had nothing to do with the blood spot, which was most likely caused by a routine blood draw done by hospital personnel. Tasha's nurse would have testified (had she been allowed to), that Yvonne had nothing to do with the hole in the outer sheath of Tasha's broviac, since it occurred while Yvonne was not even in the hospital!
Two cultures were taken of Tasha's broviac during this episode, and both were negative. Results from both cultures were available to Dr. Usatin before he called CPS accusing Yvonne of putting a hole in Tasha's broviac and inserting fecal matter into it.
for Dr. Usatin's ridiculous charge that Yvonne put fecal matter in
Tasha's broviac, all of Tasha's caregivers had to continually be
to keep her broviac clear of fecal matter. Tasha's extreme diarrhea
run up her back and over the broviac, contaminating it.
* Had severe obstructive lung disease with air trapping
and a half years later, a Kaiser pulmonologist assessed Tasha as
having chronic lung disease. Normal lungs, huh?
** This hospitalization was for severe vomiting and dehydration. Tasha was put on IV for fluid replacement, which just might have something to do with the only significant gain in weight she experienced during her hospital stays.
weight chart simply does not show that as a rule, Tasha gained weight
in the hospital. In fact, she lost a total of 71 ounces in her hospital
stays during the two year period of October 1987-1989. Tasha's real
gains occurred between hospital stays, while she was in Yvonne's home.
Dr. Usatin made the accusation to CPS that Yvonne broke her hip. After the discovery that the hip was never in fact broken, Dr. Usatin did not remove his charge against Yvonne with CPS, nor correct the very wrong information they had about Yvonne.
is the one small additional item of the written and signed report
by school officals stating the injury to Tasha's foot (not her hip)
at school by another child stepping on it. Yvonne had nothing
to do with this (or any other) injury to Tasha.
* Yvonne was never properly evaluated in an objective
clinical setting by a objective mental health professional.
Dr. Usatin charged that Yvonne was responsible for Dr. de Lorimier removing a portion of Tasha's colon in an unnecessary surgery. Dr. Usatin testified under oath that he "was unaware that a portion of Tasha's colon may have to be removed". Since Tasha was under the Eldridge's health plan at Kaiser, an HMO, Dr. Usatin's testimony could not be true for the following reasons:
* All covered medical services under the plan had
to be authorized by her primary care physician.
is also curious that Dr. Usatin claims he was not aware of the upcoming
Total Colectomy, when he prepared the GENERAL ANESTHESIA portion of
patient examination for that surgery on September 25, 1989.
"... she [Tasha] tolerated feeds via her gastrostomy with very little diarrhea, gained weight, had no migraines, no seizures, and was active and not somnolent or sleepy..."
In other words, Dr. Usatin claimed Yvonne made up all the symptoms she described and when Tasha was hospitalized, none of them were observed. Dr. Usatin must have forgotten that he himself examined Tasha on the same day she was admitted to the hospital, January 2, 1990. We quote from Dr. Usatin's own medical report:
"While in my office this afternoon, child was extremely lethargic and rigid with more spasticity than previously seen. Pupils slightly unequal while in totally lethargic state, although returned to more normal status as she awakened. Also exhibited some seizure activity with left sided head turning and left head in air and right head down with extreme body stiffening and opisthotonos which is a new seizure variety from previously."
medical records from her hospital stay further reveal she had
constant diarrhea and two seizures were observed.
"When she was admitted though, to the hospital - with no limp episodes, no breathing stops, nothing of that variety was noted at the hospital."
Dr. Escobar, Tasha's admitting physician that day, disagrees. Dr. Escobar notes that Tasha was:
"... in alternating states of consciousness: comfortable then appears to be in real distress with throwing head back and appears in pain and very cranky but then calms down if mother holds her."
Usatin testified under oath that Yvonne told several doctors Tasha
had a cleft palate but "Tasha doesn't have a cleft palate."
Tasha's birth defects was a cleft palate. Dr. David Braun and Dr. Ann
state on their physical exam admission reports, "a small midline cleft
on the palate."
"Tasha does not have, did not have, does not have immunodeficiency."
Tasha's neonatal course (before Yvonne) she was discovered
to have absolute neutropenia (an immune deficiency) which required that
she be placed in protective isolation.
The Dr. threatened Yvonne that if she deviated in any way from his prescribed care, he would permanently take all her children away from her. Even so, consider the following facts taken directly from Denisha's medical records:
* The nine months that Denisha lived with Yvonne
she had an average weight gain of 13.3 ounces per month.
doesn't sound like it was Yvonne who was doing the starving...
"... in September 1991, Mrs. Eldridge moved Denisha's care out of Kaiser, out of Children's Hospital Oakland and starts to get Denisha's care at UCSF."
The truth is, all three institutions were working together. Yvonne took Denisha to specialists at all three institutions because the doctors themselves referred her. As her primary care physician, Dr. Usatin approved of each referral. Remember, the Kaiser HMO would only cover referrals to outside specialists if they were done properly, in order and authorized by Denisha's primary care physician, Dr. Usatin.
was referred to Dr. Diane Wara at the Immunology department
at UCSF by Dr. Ann Petru of Children's Hospital Oakland in March of
Dr. Petru not only made the appointment, but sent a detailed letter to
Dr. Wara about Denisha's medical history. Dr. Usatin concurred with Dr.
"Bigger problem is constipation. Will perform a barium enema study which will predictably show a hugely dilated colon from the cecum to the anal canal."
On September 27, 1989, Dr. de Lorimier stated,
"...will do a subtotal colectomy to remove greatly dilated and ineffective colon."
Dr. Albin made the amazing comment that Tasha was scheduled for colon surgery without the recommendation of the treating physician, Dr. Usatin. Dr. Albin must have forgotten that Tasha was on the Eldridge's health plan at Kaiser, an HMO. Any surgery or procedure performed on a Kaiser patient, at a non-Kaiser facility, by a non-Kaiser doctor had to be pre-approved by the Kaiser treating physician.
called Kaiser, Walnut Creek from UCSF and was told, "will do
[the surgery] on 10/2 and wants Tasha back at Kaiser when stable -
says O.K." In addition, a UCSF patient registration form dated
27, 1989, for Tasha's subtotal colectomy, listed Dr. Marc Usatin as the
"I can't find any record that there has ever been seizing before."
The nurse's notes from Children's Hospital show that Yvonne first complained about Tasha's violent shaking on December 27, 1987, more than a year earlier than Dr. Albin testified. On January 15, 1988 Tasha's first EEG was ordered by Dr. Wheeler, a Pediatric Neurologist at Kaiser, Walnut Creek. Dr. Wheeler stated:
"... with her history, I have suggested we get a baseline EEG because of our concern for Tasha and her seizure-like activities. This EEG was mildly abnormal."
were four observed seizure activities witnessed by nurses before
February 22, 1989. Dr. Wilson, the neurologist who read Tasha's EEG
mention that the record is consistent with the clinical observation.
At birth, Denisha's Apgar scores were just 4 and 5. Apgar scores are a measure of how well a newborn is doing. Two evaluations are done. The first is performed at one minute after birth. The second is done five minutes after birth. The scores range from 1-10, with 7-10 indicating a normal baby. A score below 5 often indicates a baby requiring medical attention according to popular books on child birth. The second score is expected to be higher than the first, since the infant has had additional time to recover from the trauma of the birth process.
Since Denisha was not born in the hospital, she was not scored until she arrived at the hospital, later than the usual five minutes after her birth. Under these circumstances, her scores could be expected to be higher than normal, which makes the low scores she received even more remarkable.
birth, Denisha weighed just one and a half pounds. When she was brought
into the Eldridge home, she weighed just four pounds six ounces. She
certainly was not in prime condition, nor was she set to do
"And it doesn't explain why her weight is virtually the same as when she leaves the hospital. Over almost six months she has gained approximately a pound."
Not being sure which hospitalization Dr. Albin was referring to, we went to the medical records of both of Denisha's intensive care hospitalizations while in Yvonne's care. Here is what we found:
Event Weight Gain From
and a half months after Denisha came into the Eldridge home, she
weighed seven pounds four ounces more than when she first came. Except
for one brief hospital stay, Denisha was in the Eldridge home the
time. It is also interesting that on March 15, 1991 during Denisha's
with Dr. Keller at Kaiser, Walnut Creek, Dr. Keller wrote "good wt.
"Yvonne had a mentally ill son from a previous marriage."
is pure fiction of the purest kind. Yvonne has been married
only once. That is to her current husband, Dennis Eldridge. Yvonne has
never had a son. The only children she has ever had are her three
It might interest you to know that Det. Gorman and Dr. Usatin, the man
whose claims Det. Gorman was investigating, are friends. Hmmmm...
The first Baby Moms baby was Glenisha. She was suffering
from full-blown AIDS. The Eldridges brought her into their home at the
request of her parents, who were unable to care for her, so that she
not have to die in the sterile environment of a hospital, but could
her last days in a warm loving home. Knowing her death was imminent,
physician signed her death certificate even before she died. Her tragic
death had nothing whatsover to do with being in Yvonne's home.
All of these medically fragile children were prematurely born to drug addicted mothers. Glenisha was near death from AIDS even before she came into Yvonne's care. The three boys died of birth defects, not from anything Yvonne did. They did not even die in Yvonne's home, but rather, they died while in the care of others, or while in the hospital.
you can imagine, to have such patently false, deliberate and vicious
fraudulent charges made against you is bad enough, but when the charges
are made public as though fact, and they come from a police officer who
is supposed to uphold the law instead of breaking it, the pain is far
1. Yvonne Eldridge had applied for a license to become
a foster parent in Eugene.
1. After the unbelievably horrible way she has been treated,
Yvonne Eldridge would be last person on earth to ever want to be a
parent again. And no, she never applied for a foster care license in
and no, she didn't even think about applying for a foster care license
This case boils down to several very simple questions:
1. Does Yvonne have Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy or does
Does Yvonne have Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy? She does not in any way suffer from this or any other mental illness. She:
1. Was never scientifically evaluated for Munchausen's
Syndrome by proxy by an objective mental health practicioner. Only Dr.
Schrier's word was taken. No second opinion by an unbiased and
doctor was ever sought.
Did Yvonne endanger or cause harm to Tasha and Denisha? In no way did Yvonne ever endanger or harm any of her own three children, or Tasha or Denisha. In fact, precisely the opposite is true.
Yvonne, her husband Dennis and their three daughters all loved these precious babies dearly. Yvonne poured her heart and soul into giving these children a warm, supportive and loving home. She worked tirelessly to give these children every chance to live healthy, productive lives. In spite of prosecution witnesses testimony to the contrary, the medical records of Tasha and Denisha clearly show both girls made remarkable progress under very difficult circumstances while in Yvonne's care.
The records show that Yvonne was an extra ordinary mom. She worked very hard to keep Tasha's and Denisha's medical equipment clean, keeping Tasha's feeding tube clean, carefully dispensing the endless medications these girls needed, taking them on endless trips to the doctor, staying with them in the hospital when they required hospitalization, and on and on the list goes. This was in addition to caring for her husband and her own three daughters.
We have statements from the doctors and nurses caring for Tasha and Denisha commenting on what wonderful care Yvonne gave these babies. If you were to meet Yvonne, you would immediately sense what her family and friends already know about her. She is an exceptionally warm, caring person and an awesome hostess. If you were to visit her home, you would be amazed at how gracious and how attentive she is to the needs of everyone around her. She is an incredible woman.
Does Yvonne deserve a retrial? Americans are supposedly guaranteed the right to a fair trial. Yvonne's trial was anything but fair. It was a mockery of justice, a travesty, and a disgrace. With regard to Yvonne's heart-felt plea for a retrial, consider these facts about her trial:
1. Prosecution witnesses repeatedly, continuously and without letup knowingly gave outright false, deceptive and misleading testimony against Yvonne.
2. An enormous body of solid, direct evidence was in the hands of both the Prosecutor and the Public Defender before the trial even started which contradicted all points of the Prosecution's case against Yvonne.
3. Almost none of this evidence was ever brought up in court.
4. The Prosecutor, sworn to uphold the truth, knowingly allowed her witnesses to perjure themselves on innumerable occasions, and participated in the lies herself.
5. Yvonne's Public Defender did not object to the selection of several jury members who were obviously not fair or impartial, including a man who admitted he was trying to get a job with the Prosecutor's office at the time of the trial. Not exactly an impartial jury member. Whatever happened to "conflict of interest?"
6. During her trial, Yvonne's Public Defender did not call a single witness to testify on her behalf, even though doctors, nurses and others with direct contact with Tasha and Denisha asked to be allowed to testify on Yvonne's behalf, but were not allowed to do so.
7. Yvonne's Public Defender did not refute the outrageous false and misleading testimony of the Prosecution's witnesses, even though the children's medical records proved them wrong.
8. Yvonne's Public Defender did not object to the numerous unsupported conjectures, hear-say and opinions offered by the Prosecutor and the prosecution's witnesses as fact.
All we ask is for another trial, since the first trial was not much of a trial. We seek a fair trial before an impartial jury. A trial where all the evidence can be presented. A trial where lying witnesses can be properly cross-examined and caught in their lies. A trial where the defense will actually call witnesses to testify on the behalf of the accused. A trial that will seek the truth. Isn't that what a trial is supposed to be for, to reveal the truth? Is it so much to ask?
As school children, we used to daily recite the Pledge of Allegiance which ends "with liberty and justice for all." Have we slipped so far that we no longer have "liberty and justice for all", but "liberty and justice for those who can afford a high-powered lawyer?" Is there no justice for the poor or the vulnerable?
Is this what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
If Yvonne is not granted another trial, she will go to prison for crimes she did not commit, and that didn't even happen, while those who broke the law and lied through their teeth to put her there remain free. She will have neither life, nor liberty, nor the ability to pursue happiness. Her husband, her three daughters and their families and the extended families all will suffer horribly, knowing that such a loving caregiver and beautiful human being was so unjustly accused, unjustly tried and unjustly incarcerated. Lord, grant that it be not so.
What we believe to be the final hearing deciding the fate of Yvonne's request for another trial will be happening in the near future. We anxiously await the verdict. Will the outcome make another mockery of justice, or will the great traditional values of integrity, honesty, virtue and truth prevail?