- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — A 13-year-old cancer patient and his mother who spent a week on the run to avoid forced chemotherapy faced a court hearing Tuesday to determine the boy’s medical fate.

A custody hearing for Daniel Hauser was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. in Brown County. Daniel and his mother, Colleen, arrived back in Minnesota on a chartered jet about 3 a.m. Monday after their flight sparked a nationwide search.

Jennifer Keller, the California attorney who helped arrange the Hausers’ return to Minnesota, said the mother will continue to seek permission to use alternative treatments for her son’s cancer “that aren’t toxic.”

“But she’ll abide by what the court says,” Keller said.

Daniel Hauser, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been refusing chemotherapy, was examined by a doctor after his return. He’s in the protective custody of Brown County, but was allowed to spend the night at the family farm in Sleepy Eye, with a deputy on duty, County Attorney James Olson said.

Olson said that since Colleen Hauser returned to Minnesota voluntarily he would likely dismiss a felony complaint against her and not charge her with anything else. FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson said a federal charge of unauthorized flight would also likely be dropped.

But Olson indicated Colleen Hauser and her husband, Anthony Hauser, would have little choice but to go along with the court’s desire to treat Daniel with chemotherapy.

“A lot depends upon the attitude of the parents, their willingness to get on board with a treatment plan,” Olson said Monday.

A message left at the Hausers’ home Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

Keller said she met the mother and son on Sunday, after another attorney told her the family wanted to return to Minnesota but didn’t know what to do. Keller then notified authorities and arranged for the plane. Keller said criticism pointed at Colleen Hauser is unfair.

“They always expected to return,” Keller told The Associated Press in a phone interview late Monday. “She’s horrified people perceive her as hiding out. That isn’t what she intended.”

Keller said Daniel Hauser looked fine but was tired.

“He wasn’t in any acute distress,” Keller said. “He was quite tired. He was very, very eager to get home.”

Daniel underwent one round of chemotherapy in February, but stopped after that, citing religious beliefs. The family prefers natural healing practices suggested by a religious group called the Nemenhah Band, which says it follows American Indian beliefs.

A judge ruled the parents medically neglected Daniel and ordered them to get him an updated chest X-ray as well as select an oncologist for a re-evaluation. After the X-ray showed a tumor in Daniel’s chest had grown, the mother and son left town.

The FBI said the pair flew to Los Angeles. Investigators suspected they might have been heading to one of a number of alternative cancer clinics in northern Mexico.

Dr. Bruce Bostrom, the pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota who diagnosed Daniel’s cancer in January, said he was happy to hear of the boy’s return.

“I’m delighted,” Bostrom said. “I’ve been so worried that he was going to die in Mexico. I’ve been praying for his safe return, so I think my prayers will be answered.”

Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a 90 percent cure rate in children if treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but doctors said Daniel was likely to die without those treatments.

Associated Press writers Amy Forliti in Minneapolis and Greg Risling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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