NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — Authorities sought to arrest the mother of a 13-year-old boy with cancer who refuses chemotherapy after she fled with her son and missed a court hearing Tuesday on his welfare.
A judge issued an arrest warrant and ordered that the teen, Daniel Hauser, be placed in a foster home and be sent for an immediate examination by a pediatric oncologist so he can get treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“The court’s priority at this point is to try to get Daniel Hauser and get him the care he needs,” Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg said.
The cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation, but Daniel quit chemo after a single treatment. With his parents, he opted instead for “alternative medicines,” citing religious beliefs. That led authorities to seek custody. Judge Rodenberg last week ruled that Daniel’s parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, were medically neglecting their son.
The Hausers are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.
Mrs. Hauser testified earlier that she had been treating his cancer with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives.
The family was due in court Tuesday to report the results of a chest X-ray and their arrangements for an oncologist, but only Daniel’s father appeared. He told Judge Rodenberg he last saw his wife Monday evening.
“She said she was going to leave,” Mr. Hauser testified. “She said, ‘That’s all you need to know.’ And that’s all I know.”
He said Mrs. Hauser left her cell phone at their home in the southern Minnesota town of Sleepy Eye.
Mr. Hauser now agrees that Daniel needs to restart treatment, said Calvin Johnson, an attorney for the parents.
The founder of Nemenhah, Philip Cloudpiler Landis, said it was a bad idea for Mrs. Hauser to flee with her son.
“She should have gone to court,” Mr. Landis said. “It’s how we work these things out. You don’t solve anything by disregarding the order of the judge.”
The arrest warrant has been distributed nationwide, and a crime alert was being issued to businesses around the country, Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffman said. He said investigators were following some leads, but declined to elaborate.
The family’s physician, Dr. James Joyce, testified by telephone that Daniel’s tumor has grown and he needs immediate assessment by a specialist.
Dr. Joyce said he examined Daniel on Monday and an X-ray showed that the tumor had grown to the size it was when he was first diagnosed.
“He had basically gotten back all the trouble he had in January,” the doctor said.
Daniel said he had pain on the right side of his chest, which he rated a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, Dr. Joyce said.
Dr. Joyce said the pain was around the port that was inserted into Daniel’s chest to administer chemotherapy. He attributed the pain to the growing tumor, which is pushing the port out of place.
He said Daniel was at risk of substantial physical harm if no action is taken.
Daniel was accompanied to the appointment with Dr. Joyce by his mother and Susan Daya, a California attorney.
Dr. Joyce testified that he offered to make appointments for Daniel with oncologists, but the Hausers declined. He also said he tried to give Daniel more information about lymphoma but that the three left in a rush.
“Under Susan Daya’s urging, they indicated they had other places to go,” Dr. Joyce said.
Ms. Daya did not immediately return a page left on her cell phone Tuesday by the Associated Press. Her voice mailbox was full. The court also tried to reach her during the hearing, but got no answer.
In his ruling last week, Judge Rodenberg wrote that he would not order chemotherapy if Daniel’s prognosis was poor. But if the outlook was good, it appeared chemotherapy and possibly radiation would be in the boy’s best interest, he wrote.
Daniel’s lymphoma was diagnosed in January, and six rounds of chemotherapy were recommended. Daniel underwent one round in February but stopped after that single treatment. He and his parents sought other opinions, but the doctors agreed with the initial assessment.
State statutes require parents to provide necessary medical care for a child, Judge Rodenberg wrote. The statutes say alternative and complementary health care methods aren’t enough.
He also wrote that Daniel, who has a learning disability and cannot read, did not understand the risks and benefits of chemotherapy and didn’t believe he was ill.
Daniel testified that he believed the chemo would kill him and told the judge in private testimony unsealed later that if anyone tried to force him to take it, “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.”