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Florida agency rejected Schiavo abuse claims

Documents released Friday absolved husband in case


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Terri Schiavo

(CNN) -- The Florida agency charged with protecting families and children concluded that the husband of Terri Schiavo was not abusive, as her parents bitterly contended, according to documents released Friday.

Mary and Bob Schindler alleged to the Department of Children and Families that Michael Schiavo, who also was his wife's legal guardian, tried to starve her, beat her, inappropriately medicate her, and wanted her dead to gain financially.

"No information or evidence was found to support the allegations," the agency reported following several extensive investigations. It noted that its conclusions were supported by years of legal and medical documentation.

The agency, however, was never on the same side in the Schiavo case.

While it cleared Michael Schiavo in its 2003 report, the agency made an 11th-hour effort March 24 at the urging of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to obtain custody of Terri Schiavo, alleging her husband had abused and exploited her.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer, the same judge who ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed March 18, refused to grant the petition. Terri Schiavo died March 31. She was 41.

Allegations of abuse were considered and dismissed several times in the 15 years Terri Schiavo was incapacitated.

Greer ordered the DCF to release the records of its investigations Thursday.

The documents include a complaint from 2003 in which the Schindlers accused Schiavo of having said, "I can't wait until the bitch is dead."

The DCF said its investigation found Michael Schiavo to be a loving spouse who cared deeply about his wife.

"The staff involved with her care stated the spouse is always courteous and is rarely alone with the patient," the 2003 report found.

"There is no supporting documentation that the spouse ever made statements about 'Is the bitch ever going to die?' or 'When will the bitch die because I will be rich.'"

A DCF report from a year earlier said Michael Schiavo had no access to hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded to his wife from a medical malpractice suit.

"He is only the guardian of person and the financial guardian is a banking institution. All expenditures are authorized by the court and [Michael Schiavo] has no control over them," it said.

The Schindlers made eight complaints to DCF starting in 2001, with each one containing multiple allegations of abuse and neglect.

But agency said it found no evidence that Michael Schiavo abused, neglected or exploited his wife.

"During the time Mrs. Schiavo has been a patient of hospice [Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park], the spouse has always been courteous and very compassionate towards his wife. He is rarely alone with her when he visits and he has never compromised her care," the DCF said.

Terri Schiavo collapsed in 1990 from cardiac arrest and suffered brain damage because of lack of oxygen.

The court battle between her husband and her parents began 1998.

Michael Schiavo contended his wife never would have wanted to live in a "persistent vegetative state."

The Schindlers, staunch Roman Catholics, disputed that condition and claimed their daughter could be rehabilitated with intense therapy.

Their legal battles intensified in the weeks leading up to Terri Schiavo's death, with appeals launched at the U.S. Supreme Court. It refused to hear the case.

After her death, Schiavo's husband had her cremated against the Schindlers' wishes. He intends to have her ashes interred in Pennsylvania, where the couple were raised and married.


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