Imagine your child suddenly dies from an undiagnosed illness. It would be absolutely heartbreaking. But now, imagine you are held criminally responsible.
That is precisely what happened to an Ohio couple now facing prison time for their son`s death.
It was March of 2008 when 8-year-old Willie Robinson collapsed in his home. He was suffering from a treatable, but curable form of Hodgkin`s disease called Hodgkin lymphoma. It had not been diagnosed because he had not seen a doctor.
The boy’s parents, Monica Hussing, 37, and William Robinson Sr., 40, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted involuntary manslaughter in the death of their little boy.
Prosecutors say the case is about medical neglect, claiming the boy begged his parents to take him to the hospital, and they refused to do so.
“I think it`s a horrible thing what happened to my brother,” Lillian Hussing, the boy’s sister, told Dr. Drew Wednesday night. “I think if we would have got the help that we needed, that he would still be here today.”
Dr. Drew asked her what prevented her parents from getting that help.
“I`m really not sure,” she responded.
John Luskin, attorney for Monica Hussing, interjected, saying that there was a lack of medical attention.
“They were living in Trumbull County, which is a far eastern suburb in Ohio,” he stated. “They were not able to get the health care coverage from the welfare department that they sought.”
Tom Rein, attorney for William Robinson, Sr., noted that social workers were already coming to the boy’s house on a weekly basis for “other things.”
"The social worker was made aware of a lot of different things, including the fact that Willie, on and off, had a lump on his neck," he explained. "The social worker, according to my understanding, thought it was not a big deal, [and] didn`t do anything about it. "In fact, January of 2008, a couple of months before Willie so tragically passed away, the lump was gone … nobody knew the extent of his illness. Had they known, they would have taken him to the hospital.”
Rein added, “if you don`t have health insurance - if you`re low income and you don`t qualify and you don`t have the benefit, the privilege of health insurance like most of us do or many of us do, I should say, then doctors would automatically want money charged before they even see any children. These parents try to take this kid to the doctor. They were told, ‘no, no, no, not until you pay cash up front for each child.’ So, they had to wait.”
Dr. Drew interjected saying that what Rein had just stated was a myth.
“Had he gone to the emergency room as you said, he would not have been turned away," Dr. Drew stated. “He didn`t go to the emergency room. My concern is, and this is a concern for everybody out there - if your kid has something growing anywhere on his body, get him to the health care system whether you have insurance or not. There`s county health care. There are emergency rooms. People will not turn you away.”
Hear how the attorneys responded in the video clip above.
Dr. Drew airs weeknights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HLN. Follow the show on Twitter @DrDrewHLN.
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