Parents' battle over children drags on

Butler couple appeals ruling that continued county oversight

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Attorneys for a Butler County couple who were accused of fabricating their children's medical ailments are appealing a court order that returned the children to their parents' care yet kept them under the supervision of the county.

The notice of appeal was filed Wednesday, a day after attorneys for Mannie and Ron Taimuty-Loomis battled in Butler County court with Children and Youth Services Solicitor Dan Houlihan over a pair of unannounced visits a caseworker made to the children's school in Clarion on May 19 and home in Adams on May 20.

"We feel we have no choice but to appeal. They're not following the spirit of the family services plan," said Jennifer Gilliland-Vanasdale, attorney for Ron Taimuty-Loomis. The appeal to state Superior Court will be joined by Mildred Sweeney, the mother's attorney.

Based on findings by Butler County juvenile court master Joseph Brydon following 15 days of testimony, President Judge Thomas Doerr issued a ruling April 25 that allowed Ezra, 7, Adia, 6, and Symia, 2, to go home. But Doerr ruled that the children would remain "dependent" and their family's reunification would be court-supervised.

Both sides said Doerr's order was an unusual compromise. Brydon, the court master, found that neither parent abused the children and that they were not to blame for doctors' confusion over the children's ailments.

CYS doctors had testified the children were healthy but that their mother suffered from a psychological condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which people fabricate illnesses of others. Two other doctors, a psychiatrist and an expert in genetic disorders, testified that both parents were psychologically healthy.

A family services plan authored by Brydon refused CYS' request for more than a dozen conditions that ranged from allowing a nurse in the family home three days a week to requiring the Taimuty-Loomises to attend parenting classes.

Instead, Brydon ordered that the parents "cooperate" with CYS by meeting weekly with a caseworker; work with a psychologist to assist with the reunification; and transport Adia and Ezra to and from Clarion Area School District, where they had attended school while in foster care.

Gilliland-Vanasdale said the reunification had been proceeding smoothly after the children were returned home May 14 until a CYS caseworker made surprise visits to the school and home two weeks ago.

"These secret and clandestine visits are an unwarranted intrusion. There's no justification for this kind of approach," she said, confirming she had threatened to call police if the caseworker didn't leave the Taimuty-Loomis house.

Houlihan argued that the attorneys are interfering with CYS' right to visit any dependent child whenever a caseworker wants to.

A hearing to review how things are going is to be held on Sept. 1 in Butler County Court. The family services plan had specified that CYS supervision would likely end within nine months.


Karen Kane can be reached at kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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