Indian-Origin Couple Faces Child Abuse Charges in U.S. for Not Allowing Costly Medical Tests on Daughter

The couple from Tamil Nadu was arrested on charges of neglecting and abusing their daughter after they questioned doctors for referring costly medical tests. They were released on $30,000 bail later.


A couple of Indian origin was arrested in the United States on charges of neglecting and abusing their child after they tried to take the infant away from doctor’s supervision. They were released on a $30,000 bail later.

The couple, Prakash Settu and Mala Paneerselvam, hailing from Tamil Nadu, was arrested last week, days after they took their six-month old daughter, who suffered from a swollen arm, to a hospital at Broward County. Although the couple is now out on bail, their child and her twin brother will be under the custody of Child Protective Services, with no parental access.

The couple was booked and charged for neglecting and abusing their child after they questioned the hospital for recommending costly medical tests. They also attempted to take the child away from the hospital against doctor’s advice.

The couple was sent to a prison in Fort Lauderdale on a $200,000 bail, which was later reduced to $30,000, according to NDTV.

“Separating newborn twins from biological parents is a sin. Let them hand over them to me, as a grandmother. I’d take care of them,” Paneerselvam’s mother, Malika, was quoted saying in the report.

“Their insurance did not cover all of them. This was misconstrued as neglect,” another person who knew the couple told the Indian broadcaster.

The plight of the Indian couple was noticed by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who tweeted on Sept. 12, offering cooperation to the couple.

Florida Health Children’s Medical Services, Broward County, said that the couple told the hospital staff to not conduct a “skeletal survey” and took their daughter away. According to hospital protocol, such behavior is interpreted as negligence as the couple did not cooperate for the necessary health procedures for their newborn child, shortly after which Child Protective Services agents were summoned to examine the case, the broadcaster said.

According to a child welfare report, during FY 2016, an estimated 676,000 children in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. Nationally, 74.8 percent of victims experienced neglect and 18.2 percent were physically abused. For FY 2016, an estimated 1,750 children died due to child abuse or neglect – a rate of 2.36 children per 100,000 in the national population. For FY 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died due to child abuse or neglect – a rate of 2.25 children per 100,000 in the national population.

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