A 35-year-old North Texas woman accused of exposing her son to a lifetime of unneeded and painful medical tests and procedures pleaded guilty Thursday in a Dallas County courtroom to recklessly causing injury to her child.
A sentencing hearing for Kaylene Bowen is scheduled for Oct. 11, according to court records.
Bowen, who is probation eligible, faces two to 20 years in prison on the second-degree felony.
“I am happy that she decided to do the right thing. Eventually the lies had to stop,” the boy’s father, Ryan Crawford, said Friday regarding Bowen’s plea. “Now hopefully those who thought a mother could never do this to their child will see evil does exist.”
The couple’s son, Christopher, was 8 when he and his two-half siblings were removed from their mother by Child Protective Services in November 2017 over allegations that the mother had been lying and exaggerating about her son’s health.
Commonly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy or medical child abuse, experts say caregivers — usually a mother — lie, exaggerate or create medical symptoms in a child in order to gain attention. In turn, doctors — dependent on the parent’s description of what’s going on with the child — perform unneeded and sometimes painful tests , procedures and surgeries.
In its petition for removal, CPS referenced medical records that showed Christopher had been seen 323 times at hospitals and pediatric centers in Dallas and Houston and underwent 13 major surgeries, all between 2009 and 2016.
Bowen, who also goes by the last name of Wright, had even started or been the subject of fundraisers, claiming that Christopher was dying, initially from a rare genetic disorder and later from cancer.
Authorities alleged she had her son fitted with a feeding tube that fed directly into his small intestine and led to multiple life-threatening blood infections. They said she also tried to get him on the lung transplant list and had him in hospice care.
Crawford had tried to convince Dallas County family court judges for years that his son was not sick but they believed Bowen. One judge even prohibited Crawford from visits with his son, who was then 3.
Dallas hospital staff sounded the alarm with CPS, which led to the boy’s removal and Bowen’s arrest.
Crawford is the sole managing conservator of Christopher and gets to make all the decisions regarding where his son lives, attends school and the medical treatment he receives. Bowen is allowed supervised visits.
Crawford said his son, now 10, does well academically and is very athletic. The boy has no medical issues and has only needed to go to the doctor for physicals each year, Crawford said.
The father is working to bring more attention to cases like Bowen’s.
“Medical abuse is under reported every day,” he said. “Now its time to move forward and make sure no child has to suffer the abuse my son endured.”