This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Maya Kowalski and her attorney, Greg Anderson, announced last week that they filed a complaint with the St. Petersburg Police Department alleging sexual abuse by staff at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHAC).

The new complaint came after a Florida jury on Nov. 9 awarded Kowalski, a 17-year-old girl, and her family more than $260 million in damages and punitive damages after they alleged in a 2018 civil suit that the actions of staff at JHAC ultimately drove Maya’s mother, Beata Kowalski, to suicide in 2017.

The jury found that the hospital wronged Maya’s family after staff accused Beata of exhibiting signs of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a type of medical abuse, and DCF temporarily removed Maya from her parents’ custody while she was hospitalized in 2016 for a rare and poorly understood chronic neurological condition called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The case made national headlines after it was highlighted in a popular documentary called “Take Care of Maya.”

Howard Hunter, an attorney from Hill Ward Henderson who represented JHAC in this case, said JHAC plans to appeal the jury’s decision “based on clear and prejudicial errors throughout the trial and deliberate conduct by plaintiff’s counsel that misled the jury.”

MAYA KOWALSKI FILES SEXUAL ASSAULT COMPLAINT AGAINST CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AFTER $260M LAWSUIT WIN

“The evidence clearly showed that [JHAC] followed Florida’s mandatory reporting law in reporting suspected child abuse and, when those suspicions were confirmed by the district court, fully complied with Department of Children and Families (DCF) and court orders,” Hunter said. “We are determined to defend the vitally important obligation of mandatory reporters to report suspected child abuse and protect the smallest and most vulnerable among us. The facts and the law remain on our side, and we will continue to defend the lifesaving and compassionate care provided to Maya Kowalski by the physicians, nurses and staff of [JHAC] and the responsibility of all mandatory reporters in Florida to speak up if they suspect child abuse.” 

MAYA KOWALSKI SOBS AS JURY AWARDS FAMILY OVER $200M AFTER HOSPITAL TREATMENT LED TO MOM’S SUICIDE

Ethen Shapiro, an attorney from Hill Ward Henderson, who represented JHAC in the case, told Fox News Digital in a separate statement that JHAC reported Maya’s sexual abuse allegations, which “originally arose during trial and were not admitted into the case,” as “soon as the hospital became aware” of the accusations.

Maya Kowalski cries in court on Oct. 9, 2023

“[I]n accordance with their policies, they immediately initiated an internal investigation and contacted law enforcement last month,” Shapiro said. “Federal privacy laws restrict Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital from sharing more, but the hospital takes allegations of this nature very seriously and always puts the safety of their patients above all else.”

Here are the most dramatic moments from Maya’s trial in Sarasota County:

Maya describes seeing her mother for the last time

When hospital staff suspected Maya’s mother of “medical child abuse” and contacted Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), Maya was separated from her parents while she was hospitalized. She was allowed occasional visits with her father and brother.

‘TAKE CARE OF MAYA’: EMOTIONAL LETTER REVEALED IN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE CASE THAT DROVE MOTHER TO SUICIDE

“It was actually so unbelievably cruel, the amount of time they allocated for me to spend with my family after hearing such awful news,” Maya testified during her trial, recorded by FOX 13 Tampa Bay, on Oct. 9.

Maya’s mother, Beata Kowalski, hanged herself in her garage on Jan. 7, 2017, after going months without seeing her due to the medical abuse allegations, according to the family’s attorney, Greg Anderson.

Maya, who in court was wearing a necklace she gifted to her mother, broke down on the stand when describing how she felt something was amiss just before she learned of her mother’s suicide.

‘TAKE CARE OF MAYA’ TRIAL: HOSPITAL DEFENDS MEDICAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MOTHER WHO DIED BY SUICIDE

“At two in the morning, I broke down in tears. I was just crying uncontrollably,” she testified, adding that she called for a nurse for help at the time. “I told her, ‘I miss my mom, I miss my mom, I love my mom. I want to go home to my mom.’ Turns out she ended her life.”

Jack Kowalski’s 911 call

On Sept. 22, plaintiffs played a recording of a 911 call from January 2017 in which Maya’s father, Jack Kowalski, informs police that his wife has killed herself.

“She hung herself in the garage,” Jack can be heard saying in the recording. Kyle can be heard crying in the background of the recording. 

Jack Kowalski in court

When asked if she is beyond help, Jack responds, “Beyond. Beyond.”

Maya and her brother cried in court as the recording was played aloud for the jury to hear. 

Maya’s letter to her mother

Plaintiffs presented a letter Maya wrote to her mother in court on Sept. 26 to determine whether it could be admitted as evidence in the case.

MAYA KOWALSKI DESCRIBES SEEING MOTHER FOR THE LAST TIME BEFORE SUICIDE: ‘UNBELIEVABLY CRUEL’

“At the time, I desperately missed my family. I wasn’t allowed to really have any contact with them. So, in this document, I’m expressing how much I missed them. I was very depressed,” Kowalski explained during her trial while the jury was not present.

Kowalski’s pediatrician, Dr. John Wassenaar, told the jury on Sept. 26 that Beata gave him the letter from Maya. Wassenaar said he kept the letter as part of his medical notes in Maya’s case.

I thought it underscored that she wasn’t being abused. People weren’t doing things to her that put her in pain,” Wassenaar said when asked about the letter. “It underscored to me how much she loved her parents and how much she wanted to be reunited with them.”

Beata’s first-person letters

Witnesses, including health care professionals at JHAC, maintained during the trial that Beata was exhibiting signs of Munchausen by proxy and that Maya’s perceived CRPS symptoms were being driven by her mother. 

Munchausen by proxy is a psychological disorder in which an abusive parent or caretaker makes up or causes an illness for a person under her care — often the parent’s own child — who is not actually ill. 

(L to R) Maya Kowalski; Jack Kowalski; Beata Kowalski; and Kyle Kowalski in Take Care of Maya

The defense, which also accused Beata of giving her daughter unsafe doses of ketamine, on Oct. 27 shared emails that Beata wrote to herself from Maya’s perspective in 2015 in an effort to prove their argument that Beata was mentally unfit at the time of her daughter’s hospitalization.

‘TAKE CARE OF MAYA’: PHOTOS OF PLAINTIFF IN $220M HOSPITAL LAWSUIT CREATE CONTROVERSY AMID EXPLOSIVE CASE

“I have a very high tolerance for drugs; if I was a horse I would be comatosed or dead already,” Beata wrote in one email from Maya’s perspective. “But things are totally different when it comes to a girl with RSD, my metabolism is super fast. My mommy says I am not a cheep date and my daddy’s response was that he feels deeply sorry for the ‘lucky man’ that will marry me one day :)”

In another email detailing Maya’s painful experience waking up from the ketamine coma, Beata wrote, “I literarily wanted to die again, I felt awful. I really didn’t think I was going to make it through this day.” Beata documented Maya’s many adverse reactions to the ketamine coma treatment in her emails, the defense argued, which it said discredits the plaintiffs’ arguments that Maya’s ketamine treatments were safe and effective.

Maya’s father, Jack Kowalski, addressed Beata’s emails in court last week, saying he believes they were an attempt by Beata to journal Maya’s experience during her coma for the future because the family’s baby books are also written in the first-person.

Dr. Sally Smith explains medical abuse allegations

On Oct. 26, the jury heard long-awaited testimony from pediatrician Dr. Sally Smith, who was formerly the medical director for JHAC’s Child Protection Team and accused Beata of medically abusing Maya after hospital staff consulted her.

The Kowalskis alleged that Smith was not qualified to make that determination. Smith testified that staff initially called her after Maya was hospitalized following a high-dosage ketamine treatment complaining of stomach issues. Staff again called her the following week.

“I got that referral where the Child Protection Team was asked to do a medical evaluation,” Smith testified, later saying she found “ample evidence” to support her medical abuse claim against Beata. 

In her taped deposition that was also played aloud during the trial, Smith addressed recordings of Maya moving normally in her hospital bed.

The pediatrician said “there were numerous instances during the video, which were comparable to numerous observations — of the physical therapist, the nurses, the child life staff, the music therapy staff, etcetera — of the child moving around in bed, putting her feet in normal, neutral position, using her upper body, her lower body in various movements, that provided concrete evidence in support of all of the observations that were made by hospital staff.”

The hospital’s defense team has argued the trial is representative of the responsibility that hospital staff have to report suspected child abuse to authorities.

The Kowalski family alleged that the power of the large hospital system combined with the power of the state made them helpless in trying to get appropriate help for their daughter. And being separated caused severe emotional distress for both Maya and her mother.

The Kowalskis also said the hospital billed their insurance company thousands of dollars for CRPS treatments despite the staff’s claims that Maya did not have CRPS.

Read the full article here

Share.

Comments are closed.