Police arrested a Pine Bluff couple Friday after their 4-year-old son was admitted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital with bleeding on the brain the day before.
Veronica Kent, 27, called a hospital social worker against her husband J.J. Kent’s wishes, reporting that the child had had a seizure Monday, was not eating and his feeding tube had been removed against doctor’s orders and not replaced.
Pine Bluff Detective Steve Rucker reported that the social worker told Veronica Kent to call 911, but she refused and said her husband would make the decision when he came home.
Rucker became involved after receiving a call from Anita Hammond, an investigator with the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children unit, who said she was in Little Rock with the child, a boy, who had a core temperature of 80 and a heart rate of 40.
At about 4 p.m. Thursday, the hospital called back and spoke to J.J. Kent, 41, and told him to call 911 about the child, but he refused and said he would bring the child to the hospital himself after being told that police would be called if he didn’t bring his son in for treatment.
Rucker reported that he and Hammond interviewed both J.J. and Veronica Kent at their home. He said J.J. Kent told them that the child had had a heart replacement at birth and said his son had pulled out his feeding tube about a year ago and it was not put back in. J.J. Kent also said that his son had seizures about once a week starting at age 2 but would always “bounce back.”
Veronica Kent said her son had a seizure Monday and “did not bounce back.”
She also said she had fed her son Tuesday through his mouth; when asked why she went against doctor’s orders to do that, she said, “the doctor didn’t know her son like she did and how was the child supposed to learn to eat?”
Dr. Karen Faust, who works at Children’s Hospital, reported the case as medical neglect because the parents failed or delayed bringing the child in more than 48 hours after the event (the seizure) and that resulted in a “near fatality.”
Faust also reported that the child’s parents were aware of his special needs and the risks to his health if those needs were not met, and their choice to delay seeking treatment created secondary health issues, such as the possibility of additional seizures and hypothermia.
After a court hearing Monday, Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $25,000 bond for Veronica Kent and a $50,000 bond for J.J. Kent after ruling prosecutors have probable cause to charge them with endangering the welfare of a minor.