CPS FAILS TO COMPLY WITH SUPREME COURT ORDER
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - A judge has granted a couple's request to remove himself from their battle with the state over cancer treatment for their 13-year-old daughter after the Texas Supreme Court reversed part of his ruling on visitation rights.
Juvenile Court Judge Carl Lewis on Thursday recused himself from the case involving Child Protective Services and the parents of Katie Wernecke, who had been resisting treatment for her Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
By a previous order from Lewis, CPS has custody of Katie and control over her cancer treatments at least until another hearing with a new judge presiding. Lewis' next hearing had been scheduled for Nov. 18. The family has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the ruling granting CPS custody. "In light of the substantial attention given this case by the Supreme Court, I believe my continued participation would create a distraction of no benefit to the parents or the best interest of the child," Lewis wrote.
The higher court on Oct. 7 partially overturned Lewis' order barring visits from Edward Wernecke and limiting mother Michele Wernecke's contact with Katie.Lewis' order came after visiting Katie in the hospital and determining that her father's influence was causing her to tear out catheters and fight nurses. [ALLEGED]
The Supreme Court instead allowed both parents supervised visits arranged by social workers. But the court said contact would be cut off if either parent was found to be telling Katie not to comply with treatment.
A family attorney filed a motion last month seeking Lewis' recusal on the grounds that his trip to see Katie compromised his impartiality. Lewis initially denied the motion but said he changed his mind after the Supreme Court ruling.
Ed Wernecke said Friday the family had a supervised telephone call with Katie on Wednesday but that CPS was still keeping the family away from Katie.
"I tried to ask them to have a visit on Sunday, and they said, 'No, you're not going to have a visit,'" Wernecke said. "They told us what we could and could not say, which wasn't right either."
Wernecke said he was shocked when Katie said she had received platelets.
"The law requires them to notify us of any life-threatening event within 24 hours. They didn't notify us they were giving her platelets," he said. "We don't know what they're doing to our daughter."
CPS spokesman Aaron Reed said the agency told the family that visits would be arranged around Katie's treatment and school schedule. [ANOTHER CPS LIE - THEY NEVER SAID THAT]
"We fully intend to comply with the court order," he said. "Every Monday we'll let them know." [THAT IS YET TO BE SEEN]
Katie was diagnosed in January and began receiving chemotherapy, which doctors recommended be followed with radiation.
Her parents kept Katie from the radiation, prompting CPS to remove Katie from her family. Edward Wernecke said the treatment could put Katie at a heightened risk for breast cancer, stunt her growth and cause learning problems.
Lewis gave CPS temporary custody of Katie in June after doctors testified the Werneckes were risking their daughter's life and a scan showed the cancer had returned.
Katie has been with a foster family in Houston.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press
© 2005 MSNBC.com
[My comments added in brackets. Edward]