The charges against Baby Jace’s parents, Crystal Bryant (age 24) and Jarvis Bryant (age 27), seemed to imply that they were guilty until two doctors took a closer look. Their seven-month ordeal was reported by The Colorado Sun.
Crystal had taken her five month old baby Jace to the hospital with a viral infection and also asked that they x-ray his leg because he would cry when Crystal touched it.
Three days later they were told by El Paso authorities that the baby could not come home with them as authorities had determined that their home was not safe for Jace.
An Alarming Discovery
The medical staff at the hospital, because of Jace’s history of health issues, ordered a full-body scan.
The staff was alarmed at seeing ten fractured ribs, two fractured wrists, and a fractured femur. The damage to the bone in Jace’s leg was fresh but the other fractures had begun to heal.
Crystal called her husband to tell him of the x-ray results and he told her that Jace had slipped out of his arms while he was bathing him. After Jarvis’ explanation, authorities took over.
A History of Illness
Although Jace was only five months old, he already had a long history of illness, requiring hospitalization and emergency trips to the hospital many times.
Jace had acid reflux combined with dysphagia, a disorder causing milk or other fluids to travel into his windpipe rather than into his esophagus.
When he was only three weeks old he was hospitalized for thirty-one days. His doctors used a feeding tube to infuse nutrients in order for him to survive.
At four months Jace was back in the hospital to have surgery on his esophagus, enabling his formula to go directly into his stomach.
Then there is the incident of the viral infection that led to the charge that Jace’s parents had caused serious harm to their baby.
By any measure, Crystal and Jarvis were devoted parents to their only son. Crystal described herself as a hovering parent to her only child. She would take him to the pediatrician at the first sign of an illness.
Crystal was so despondent after Jace was taken from her that she fell into a deep depression. Once while driving with Jarvis she opened their car door and threatened to jump saying that she did not want to live. She was so weakened by refusing to eat that Jarvis had to take her to the hospital. As he was checking into the hospital, the clerk told Jarvis that there was a warrant out for their arrest.
Jace’s New Home
Jace lived with his foster parents for over five months until he was ten months old. Each time the Bryants visited him on their two-hour supervised visit, they found that he showed less recognition. This of course was devastating to both of them.
The Bryants were then approved by the Child Welfare system to be allowed to live with their son in the home of a couple Jarvis knew from work. However, they were not allowed to be left alone with Jace.
About the Investigation
The police came to their home and interviewed the parents. A caseworker from child welfare also came to their home accompanied by a pediatrician specializing in child abuse who examined Jace.
Crystal and Jarvis were given voice analysis tests that detected if they were being deceptive. The police wanted more information about how the accident happened and if Crystal was involved.
The authorities concluded that the Bryant’s were guilty. A warrant was issued for their arrest. Not only were they charged with child abuse but a civil case was also filed involving the possible termination of their parental rights. This was a class 3 felony that could bring up to sixteen years in prison.
No Prior Criminal Records
Neither Crystal nor Jarvis had any prior criminal history. The newly-filed charges caused Crystal to lose a nursing certificate. Jarvis, who is a specialist in the U.S. Army, was stripped of his security clearance. As a result, he lost his job in vehicle and aircraft supply and was relegated to a paper-shuffling job.
Jarvis Went Into Action
Jarvis, knowing how much is at stake for all three of them, was determined not to let it happen. He contacted attorneys at the ACLU and NAACP. He went to every doctor who had examined Jace and collected 1,200 pages of medical records including X-rays before and after Jace’s surgeries.
One night Jarvis happened on a TV show that turned him in the right direction. The TV personality Katie Couric was interviewing two families who had also been accused of child abuse after doctors found multiple broken bones. The parents were eventually exonerated when the doctors discovered that Jace had osteogenesis imperfecta.
From there Jarvis found the Fractured Families website. It is a platform for families whose children have unexplained fractures. Jarvis immediately sent out multiple emails asking or help.
The network contained volumes of information about physicians, radiologists and other specialists in bone fractures. He sent emails to everyone. Two doctors responded that they would help at no cost to Jarvis.
Reports From Two Specialists
One of the two doctors who offered help was a California radiologist, Dr. Susan Gootnick, who had been reviewing child abuse cases for seven years. She immediately saw that Jace was not absorbing calcium due to being fed through a tube. She said that Jace’s condition was consistent with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.
Dr. Gootnick said that the dates of the X-rays taken when the staff reinserted the tube corresponded with the age of the fractures in his ribs and wrists. The tube ran through his nose into his stomach.
She explained that as the tubes were inserted, Jace was not sedated and therefore the nurses had to use increased pressure to keep the baby from moving. In one of the X-rays a thumb was visible holding his arm for the scan.
Dr. Gootnick’s reports were given to Jarvis’ attorney.
The second physician, Dr. John Galaznik, was an expert witness for the defense in many child abuse cases. Dr. Galaznik immediately noted that two medications Jace had been taking practically from birth were Ranitidine and Omeprazole. Both medications were leaching calcium from his bones.
Dr. Galaznik said that Jace’s parathyroid hormone levels were elevated. This occurs when there is a severe deficiency in calcium. The parathyroid glands control the amount of calcium in the bones and are responsible for their strength and density.
Dr. Galaznik reported that the fractured bone in Jace’s leg was consistent with a force from a fall just as Jarvis described. However, he explained that there was no pulling, yanking or twisting that might be indicative of abuse.
Dr. Galaznik’s report was also given to Jarvis’ attorney.
Now the Bryants waited for results of their appeal and their son to be returned to them.
About the Court Date
Just as the Bryants were about to appear in civil court, the child welfare of El Paso County dropped its case. Their decision was based on a report by its own child abuse doctor and the reports of the two expert witnesses.
Jace could come home.
Three months later the charges against the Bryants were dismissed and the case was sealed by order of the District Judge.
Jace has been introduced to regular food and his bones are getting stronger. He is scheduled to have the g-tube removed.
Crystal is not going to restore her nursing status as the main reason she applied for it was to attend to Jace’s g-tube.
Jarvis, on the other hand, is still waiting for his security clearance to be restored. When it is restored, the Bryants would like to transfer to another Army post outside of Colorado as the memories are still too vivid. The Bryants, who are black, believe that they were victims of discrimination and racial bias.
What are your thoughts about the Bryant’s ordeal? Share your stories, thoughts, and hopes with the Patient Worthy community!