Lawsuits filed in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court of St. Louis claim that the guardian ad litem (GAL) Elaine Pudlowski, psychologist Dr. James Reid, and therapist Jennifer Webbe VanLuven, conspired to diagnose a child with a fraudulent mental disorder.
A leaked email from Judge Michael Burton and a leaked Zoom call with almost forty guardian ad litems conspiring to help Pudlowski led to Burton resigning.
The lawsuit was dismissed and the defendants got away with their crimes when they were awarded immunity. Attorney Evita Tolu appealed arguing, “Judicial immunity for court professionals exists not for the protection or benefit of a malicious court professional, but for the benefit of the public, and it is not limitless.” She further argues that according to the law the allegations of overbilling and violating court orders and professional standards do not meet the requirements for judicial immunity.
There are other lawsuits against the same court professionals. Apparently, Missouri legislators know that there is a problem with the Missouri Court but they have not taken any action for accountability to add integrity back to the court.
A mother is suing Elaine Pudlowski, Frankel Rubin, Klein, Payne and Pudlowski, P.C., James D. Reid, James D. Reid PhD, LLC, Brian Dunlop and Dunlop and McCarter for violation of 42 U.S.C and injunctive relief. According to the complaint, the guardian ad litem, Frankel was Pudlowski’s employer and is responsible for her conduct. Devon Arseneau alleges that “Pudlowski acted outside the scope of her licensure, expertise, and terms of her court appointment by misrepresenting her qualifications for this case to the court. Devon Arseneau alleges Pudlowski has no training in the following: mental health issues; alcohol or drug addiction; medicine; trauma, domestic violence; sexual abuse of children; or childhood and adolescent development, yet determined and represented to the court that the child was not at risk”.
Court medical records reveal a history of mental health issues and psychotropic medications incongruent with Reid’s diagnosis of the Plaintiff’s former husband. Reid admitted to falsifying elements of the report, but the reports continue to be handed out to certain professionals per the court order.
How Missouri is supposed to operate:
Federal law under CAPTA defines child abuse as “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” This definition of child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” under this definition generally means a person who is younger than age 18 or who is not an emancipated minor. While Federal legislation sets minimum standards for States that accept Federal funding, each State is responsible for defining child maltreatment in State law. (Child Welfare Gateway)
Missouri Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 210.115; 352.400; 573.215 requires professionals to report child abuse and neglect.
Professionals required to report include the following:
Physicians, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, residents, interns, nurses, hospital and clinic personnel, or other health practitioners
Daycare center workers or other child care workers, teachers, principals, or other school officials
Psychologists, mental health professionals, or social workers
Ministers, including clergypersons, priests, rabbis, Christian Science practitioners, or other persons serving in a similar capacity for any religious organization
Juvenile officers, probation or parole officers, peace officers, law enforcement officials, or jail or detention center personnel
Volunteers or personnel of community service programs that offer support services for families in crisis to assist in the delegation of any powers regarding the care and custody of a child by a properly executed power of attorney
Other persons with responsibility for the care of children
Film and photographic print processors; computer providers, installers, or repair persons; or internet service providers
Reporting by Other Persons Citation: Rev. Stat. § 210.115
Any other person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect may report.
Institutional Responsibility to Report Citation: Rev. Stat. § 210.115
If two or more members of a medical institution who are required to report jointly have knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, a single report may be made by a designated member of that medical team. Any member who has knowledge that the member designated to report has failed to do so shall thereafter immediately make the report. Nothing in this section, however, is meant to preclude any person from reporting abuse or neglect.
The reporting requirements under this section are individual, and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit any reporting under this section. No person making a report shall be subject to any sanction, including any adverse employment action, for making such report. Every employer shall ensure that any employee required to report has immediate and unrestricted access to the communications technology necessary to make an immediate report and is temporarily relieved of other work duties for such time as is required to make any report required by this section.
Standards for Making a Report Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 210.115; 573.215 A report is required under the following circumstances:
A reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect.
A reporter observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.
A film and photographic print processor has knowledge of or observes any film, photograph, videotape, negative, slide, or computer-generated image or picture depicting a child younger than age 18 engaged in an act of sexual conduct.
Privileged Communications Citation: Rev. Stat. § 210.140
Only the attorney-client or clergy-penitent privilege may be grounds for failure to report.
Inclusion of Reporter’s Name in Report Citation: Rev. Stat. § 210.130
The report must include the name, address, occupation, and contact information for the person making the report.
Disclosure of Reporter Identity Citation: Rev. Stat. § 210.150
The names or other identifying information of reporters shall not be furnished to any child, parent, guardian, or alleged perpetrator named in the report.
MANDATED REPORTER STATUTE (Section 210.115, RSMO.)
Who Is Mandated To Report Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect?
The statute identifies the following individuals and professions as mandated reporters:
Hospital or Clinic Personnel that are engaged in the examination, care, treatment or research of persons
Any other health practitioner
Daycare center or other child-care worker
Probation or Parole Officer
Jail or detention personnel
Principal or other school official
Minister (as provided by section 352.400, RSMo.)
Peace officer or law enforcement official
Other person with the responsibility for the care of children
Volunteer or personnel of a community service program that offers support services for families in crisis to assist in the delegation of any powers regarding the care and custody of a child by a properly executed power of attorney pursuant to sections 475.600 to 475.604
When any individual identified above has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, that person shall immediately report.
Reasonable cause to suspect means a standard of reasonable suspicion, rather than conclusive proof.
The term “abuse” is not limited to abuse inflicted by a person responsible for the child’s care, custody and control as specified in section 210.110, but shall also include abuse inflicted by any other person.
No internal investigation shall be initiated until such a report has been made. The reporting requirements under this section are individual, and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit any reporting under this section. No person making a report shall be subject to any sanction, including any adverse employment action, for making such report. Every employer shall ensure that any employee required to report has immediate and unrestricted access to communications technology necessary to make an immediate report and is temporarily relieved of other work duties for such time as is required to make any report.
The only exception to the individual reporting requirement is that when two or more members of a medical institution, who are required to report, jointly have knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, a single report may be made by a designated member of that medical team. Any member who has knowledge that the member designated to report has failed to do so shall thereafter immediately make the report.
Nothing however, is meant to preclude any person from reporting abuse or neglect. Multiple mandated reporters with knowledge of abuse and neglect may call together to make a single report.
Any person or individual required to report may also report the suspicion of abuse or neglect to any law enforcement agency or juvenile office. Such report shall not, however, take the place of reporting to the Children’s Division.
If an individual required to report suspected instances of abuse or neglect pursuant to this section has reason to believe that the victim of such abuse or neglect is a resident of another state or was injured as a result of an act which occurred in another state, the person required to report such abuse or neglect may, in lieu of reporting to the Missouri Children’s Division, make such a report to the child protection agency of the other state with the authority to receive such reports pursuant to the laws of such other state. If such agency accepts the report, no report is required to be made, but may be made, to the Missouri Children’s Division.
Any mandated reporter who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child who is under the age of eighteen, who is eligible to receive a certificate of live birth, has died shall report that fact to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner. If, upon review of the circumstances and medical information, the medical examiner or coroner determines that the child died of natural causes while under medical care for an established natural disease, the coroner, medical examiner or physician shall notify the Children’s Division of the child’s death and that the child’s attending physician shall be signing the death certificate. In all other cases, the medical examiner or coroner shall accept the report for investigation, shall immediately notify the Children’s Division of the child’s death as required in Section 58.452, RSMo., and shall report the findings to the child fatality review panel established pursuant to Section 210.192, RSMo.
Anonymous Reporters (Section 210.109, RSMo.)
Mandated reporters may not make child abuse/neglect (CA/N) reports anonymously provided the reporter is informed that reporter information will be held as confidential.
Immunity/Penalties (Section 210.135 RSMo.)
The law provides immunity from civil or criminal liability to those who are required to make reports with Children’s Division, any law enforcement agency, or the juvenile office in the completion of an investigation/family assessment. Immunity is provided regardless of the outcome of the investigation/family assessment; however, it does not apply if a person intentionally files a false report.
Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor for a person who is required under the law to report. Filing a false report is also a Class A misdemeanor.
Find out more at the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.