An Arkansas boy received unneeded medical procedures and drugs based on lies his parents told doctors and charities about his health to get donations, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the state attorney general.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed the lawsuit seeking to recover funds Kristy Beth Schneider and Erik Schneider received from charities to help with the care of their adopted son, who was taken into state custody in 2019. Kristy Beth Schneider also faces a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a minor.
“Essentially Kristy and Erik Schneider falsified their child’s health conditions to receive more than $31,000 in charitable donations and contributions from Arkansans” from about 2017 to 2019, Rutledge said.
“It’s sad and it’s sickening that parents would put their own child at risk, at health risk, for their own profit … it’s unbelievable,” Rutledge said.
The Schneiders’ attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, said he had not seen the lawsuit and declined comment.
Court records show Kristy Schneider was charged Monday with endangering the welfare of a minor for “creating a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury” to the boy due to factitious disorder, previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Court records do not reflect any charges against Erik Schneider.
“We knew it was coming, we’ve been talking to the prosecutor,” Rosenzweig said, declining further comment.
Factitious disorder is when someone falsely claims another person is ill in order to deceive other people, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The boy, who was adopted by the couple in 2014 when he was 5, was treated at hospitals in Little Rock, Cincinnati and at the Mayo Clinic, according to the lawsuit, which identifies him by the initials L.S.
In February 2019, the child was taken to a Little Rock hospital for end of life care, accompanied by numerous law enforcement and first responders, a trip widely covered by media, the lawsuit states. The boy subsequently improved.
“Rather than viewing this as a positive development, the Schneiders put L.S. back on (a feeding tube) … and flippantly remarked that L.S. ‘did a bad job of dying,’” according to the allegations.
The child “is better,” Rutledge said. He was placed in state custody in 2019 when he was 11, based on a tip to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, according to court documents.
The Arkansas Supreme Court in September rejected the Schneider’s lawsuit seeking to regain custody.
The lawsuit also seeks fines for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and attorneys fees.