An Arkansas father who suffered terribly from false child abuse allegations has harnessed that experience to get the law there changed. Now, when a physician in Arkansas concludes that a child’s injuries show they have been physically abused, the law allows the accused to have a different physician examine the child and give a second opinion.
The False Accusation
In 2018, Zachary Culp was arrested on suspicion of abusing his three-month-old infant, Quincy. The child was found to have 17 fractures across his body. The doctors believed they were caused by abuse, and Zachary was the prime suspect. To make matters worse, Zachary worked at a school cafeteria, giving him close contact with children. This meant to many in his community that there had been a child abuser in regular contact with hundreds of other kids.
When Zachary was arrested, his photo was broadcast on a TV news program. The program was seen by other prisoners at his jail. Almost immediately, he suffered beatings and assault. Jail guards let the beatings go on; to them, apparently, this was vigilante justice.
But Zachary was innocent.
With help and tips from his uncle who was a police detective, Zachary managed to get through the first 72 hours in jail and then to survive another 70 days there. He was then released on bail, but under a no-contact order. This order meant that his wife, Sarah, was the only one who could take care of Quincy.
Quincy’s health steadily worsened, despite his having no contact with Zachary. Quincy kept losing weight.
Eventually, Sarah’s research led to a breakthrough. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). A physician prescribed a diet focused on responding to that disease. The diet helped immensely, and Quincy began to gain weight for the first time since Zachary’s arrest.
It took a year for Zachary’s case to get to trial. The jury hung, and a mistrial was declared. Rather than lengthen his ordeal (and his family’s) by going to trial a second time, he made a bargain to plead guilty to a lesser crime. The bargain allowed him to return to his family. Almost immediately after he did, he started campaigning to change the law. His experience inspired him to push for real change in Arkansas’s legal system to better support kids like Quincy and their families.
When pressing for what became known as Quincy’s Law, Zachary looked to Texas for inspiration, basing his law on a similar one tweaked and edited by Texas parental rights activists. Zachary has also provided templates for parents or activists in other states to use. Quincy’s Law allows for parents whose child has been diagnosed with child abuse to seek a second opinion from a different doctor. This second doctor, whose fees must be paid by the accused, is specifically allowed to look for signs of diseases that could create signs and symptoms that mimic child abuse. These diseases include rickets, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Vitamin D deficiency.
The Situation In Washington State
Washington State currently has no version of Quincy’s Law. Like the law of every state, RCW 26.44.030 requires that certain professionals and caretakers report to law enforcement when they have “reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect.” Doctors are among those mandatory reporters. This code section also requires that supervisors in a profit or non-profit organization report abuse when they have reasonable cause to believe it has occurred. Adults who live with allegedly abused children also must report if they suspect “severe abuse”—meaning physical or sexual abuse that causes bleeding or bruises, or is life-threatening.
Child physical abuse in Washington is called Assault of a Child. It comes in three degrees of severity.
If Quincy’s fractures had been diagnosed in Washington, Zachary would have faced similar problems. The doctor would have been required to report their suspicions of abuse, and Zachary would likely have been arrested and spent time in jail and away from his family.
Facing a charge of child abuse is frightening, even terrifying. As Zachary learned, even spending time in jail while accused of child abuse can risk your life and limb, and your reputation will be crippled. It is a harrowing ordeal, one that requires the best defense possible.
At the Marshall Defense Firm, we provide unwavering advocacy, as well as deep compassion, for our clients accused of child abuse. We have decades of experience defending against child abuse charges. We bring both expertise and creativity to our work.
If you or a loved one faces a child abuse accusation in Washington, you are not alone. We will fight for you every step of the way. Contact us at 206.826.1400 or email@example.com for an appointment.