Parents Melissa and Dillon Bright thought they were living every parent’s worst nightmare when their baby fell from a chair and fractured his head.
But after taking him to a hospital, another nightmare started.
The couple from Texas shared the heartbreaking story of how they were falsely accused of child abuse in a new podcast from NBC News ‘Do No Harm.’
Their story started on July 18, 2018, when five-month-old Mason fell from a lawn chair and hit his head on the pavement.
“I just heard – all of a sudden it was just this blood-curdling scream,” Melissa recalled.
Mason was rushed to a hospital where the parents were told that their baby had suffered not just one but two skull fractures.
Doctors told the panicked parents that the damage was so severe their son had to be transferred to the neurology department in Houston.
While waiting for the transfer, Melissa was asked by a social worker about what happened before the accident.
“I thought it was just someone checking in on me,” Melissa expressed. “It didn’t raise any red flags for me. I had no intention of hiding anything, so I just told her to the best of my ability what transpired the couple hours beforehand.”
The doctors working with the Child Abuse Pediatrics unit then sent a report to Child Protective Services, concluding that the child may be a victim of abuse – prompting a months-long legal battle that almost saw Dillon and Melissa lose custody of their children.
“I was very, very naïve, even at this point. It did not dawn on me that they were accusing me of child abuse,” Melissa said.
“Life is great and everybody’s happy and healthy and then just like that – it’s a complete nightmare,” Dillon added.
“They were telling us that someone was going to have to move in with us – neither one of us were allowed alone with either of our children,” Melissa said in the podcast.
Jones, the CPS investigator assigned to their case, also asked the couple to bring their daughter Charlotte to the hospital for X-trays to check whether she had suffered injuries.
The results showed Charlotte did not have any injuries in the past. “That was horrific, she did not need to experience that,” Melissa expressed.
Five days after the incident, a doctor working with the CAP team sent a form to CPS supervisor Niesha Edwards, concluding: “While the reported fall could account for one of the skull fractures, it does not explain the other fracture or the extent of Mason’s intracranial bleeding.
“If non-mobile babies with unexplained injuries are returned into the same care environment in which unexplained injury happened, there is risk for further and more severe injury.”
Dillon said: “It was unbelievable to me at that point that it had even got that far. That’s when I started questioning: ‘What kind of investigating are you really doing?’ I just couldn’t understand how this could be getting worse.”
After months of fighting to keep their son, Harris County Judge Mike Schneider ordered the state to pay $127,000 to the family.
Hear the rest of the story in Do No Harm podcasts on the Wondery App or Spotify.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments section and SHARE this story with your friends and family!