Please tap on this link to find one of the best long, front page features the L.A. Times has done recently. The only reason I didn't hand it out is that it is extremely long, and it looks better with the photos and graphics anyway. Please take 20 minutes to read this. You will note the elements we discussed: suspense, conflict, resolution at the end, and you may have a different view of the reporters' fairness to both sides.
Here is the story's opening, to whet your appetite to click on the above link and read more.
Maternal care — or harm?
A Redlands mother of four was accused of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, fabricating or inducing illnesses in her own children.
By Tracy Weber
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 9, 2008
It was lunchtime at Loma Linda Academy when the social workers arrived, escorted by a deputy sheriff.
They were there to collect the Udvardi children. Amid dozens of students munching sandwiches and chips, school officials found 6-year-old Esther, then Abram, 11, and Sam, 14. They got the eldest, Matthew, 16, just as he arrived at his American Lit class.
The children were hustled one by one to a white van in the parking lot, then whisked away even before their father, the school's band teacher, knew what was happening.
Seven miles away in Redlands, the phone rang at the family's modest tract home. Leslie Udvardi found a county social worker on the line.The woman was blunt: Leslie had been deemed a danger to her children. They would be in the state's care until a court decided differently.
Leslie said the social worker accused her of subjecting the kids to unnecessary and often painful medical treatments.
In fact, child welfare officials believed Leslie was the one who was sick, with a syndrome known by a long and forbidding name: Munchausen by proxy.
Leslie had read about it. It was a TV crime drama disease, a mental illness in which a caregiver, usually a mother, fabricates illnesses in a child to gain attention.
Certainly her children had been stricken by an unusual number of ailments, almost from birth, but Leslie told the woman she'd done everything in her power to help, not hurt, them.
The social worker kept talking: Leslie could drop off clothes and books for the children.Leslie barely registered the details. All she could think was: They've taken my kids.
Leslie hung up and dialed her husband's cellphone. She was "screaming in a panic," Kirk Udvardi remembered. He was being accused too, she told him, of failing to protect the children from her.
For four days, Kirk said, no one would tell either parent where their children were.
Kirk said a social worker did offer him some unsolicited advice: "You're going to really need to come out strongly against your wife. If you don't come out against your wife, there's a good chance you're not going to see your kids again."
Click on the above link to read more!