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Florida woman accused of sickening child for 8 years

kathy jen bush
CNN's Susan Candiotti reviews the case
Windows Media 28K 80K

July 20, 1999
Web posted at: 11:17 p.m. EDT (0317 GMT)

From Correspondent Susan Candiotti

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- A Florida mother intentionally made her daughter sick to draw attention to herself by contaminating the child's blood, tampering with her feeding pump and sickening her with unprescribed medication, prosecutors said Tuesday.

By age 8, Jennifer Bush underwent some 40 surgeries and spent 640 days in hospitals.

"The cause of her illness was her mother Kathy Bush," Assistant State Attorney Dennis Nicewander told jurors during opening statements.

Kathy Bush, 41, is charged with aggravated child abuse and Medicaid fraud. She faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted on both charges.

Jury unaware of alleged motive

Outside the jury's presence, prosecutors have accused Bush of a disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, characterized by a parent or parent substitute deliberately inducing or falsely reporting illnesses in his or her children.

The judge will decide later whether prosecutors can tell jurors about their theory of Bush's motive.

The defense argued the allegations are pure fantasy.

"It has been an unrelenting campaign of misinformation to destroy the Bush family. The state of Florida is committed to its theory of child abuse," defense attorney Robert Buschel told the court.

Bush's attorneys said Jennifer's illnesses were genetic and diagnosed by doctors and that Bush has become the victim of nurses with an ax to grind.

Before she was arrested in 1996, Bush told CNN, "I'm innocent, I've done nothing wrong."

Back then, Jennifer had one wish: "To get all my tubes out."

After Bush's arrest, Jennifer was placed in foster care. Prosecutors said she recovered quickly and has not been sick since being removed from her mother's care. She is now 12.

According to a recent deposition, Jennifer does not want to see her mother.

The state of Florida also has accused Bush of illegally accepting Medicaid assistance to pay for the medical bills.

The family sought media attention, which brought public donations for Jennifer.

At one point, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Florida Marlins baseball players visited the family.

Mom charged with intentionally making daughter ill
April 16, 1996
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