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Scherbring speaks out
Letter to the Editor
Dyersville Commercial
(September 5, 2001)

After a year and a half of silence, I feel it's time for me to speak up about the abuse that our daughter, Brittney, suffered while she was in daycare in May, 2000. I know this incident was a wakeup call to our community. People think, "Not here, not in our town." But the reality is, yes, it did happen. And yes, it does happen even in the smallest of towns.

The woman (no need to mention any names), decided to finally plead guilty a week before trial. The reason? I suppose she realized that she was going to be found guilty and would end up serving prison time for her crime. Of course we all know how our justice system works. You can plead guilty to the worst of crimes and not get much of a punishment. In our case, she only got two years probation. She also has to pay restitution, do community service, and last (but certainly not least) she has to write us a letter of apology. I'm sure that will be the hardest for her since she hasn't showed any remorse for what she did to my daughter. She even went as far as pleading innocence straight to my face earlier this year.

Brittney is a perfect little girl now. She'll turn two this month. As far as we know, she won't have any long-term affects and we feel extremely blessed for that. I have since joined the council for the Prevention of Child Abuse. I'm finding that people are blind when it comes to abuse. People just don't want to believe that it happens. So, if you ever see me on the street, or in the store, don't hesitate to ask me about Brittney or what happened. I have nothing to hide. I'm willing to tell the whole world my story.

Jennifer Scherbring
Brittney's mother
Hearing set for local doctor
(June 7, 2002)
(June 8, 2002)

Medical board: Accusations center on child's injuries

Des Moines (AP) - The Iowa Board of Medical Examiners set a hearing for July 17 to consider a complaint against a local doctor who, according to board documents, allowed a family to transport an injured child in their car to a hospital 30 miles away for test.

Dr. Robert S. Tomas, of Medical Associates Clinic, treated a 7-month-old child in May 2000 at the Mercy Medical Center emergency room, according to documents. The child was brought to the hospital with bruising to the head and difficulty breathing.

Tests at the second hospital revealed a skull fracture and internal bleeding. The child was transferred by helicopter to an Iowa hospital specializing in pediatric care, documents said.
Documents said the nature of the injuries should have raised suspicion of abuse.

The board alleges Tomas didn't ask about the child's medical history. Documents show the child had been treated at the hospital for facial bruising in April 2000. The board alleges that Tomas failed to speak to a witness to the injury and failed to properly document injuries and report suspected abuse to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

A family practice physician, Tomas joined Medical Associates Clinic in December 1996.

Medical Associates officials said Friday they were unable to comment on the hearing. The office supervisor said Tomas also had no comment.

Local doctor fined $5,000 for failing to report child abuse
(November 2, 2002)
(November 6, 2002)

A local doctor was cited for failing to report child abuse and fined $5,000 under a settlement announced Friday by the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Robert S. Thomas, 51, who practices in Dubuque and Dyersville, also was ordered to complete an education course in child-abuse recognition and reporting.

On May 3, 2000, a seven-month old child with apparent head injury was brought to the emergency room after being found unresponsive, regulators said.

Thomas didn't ask about the girl's prior injuries, failed to question the caretakers, or ask about any witnesses to the injury, regulators said.

He then allowed the family to drive 30 minutes to another hospital for tests despite potentially life-threatening circumstances, regulators said.

After tests revealed a skull fracture with internal bleeding, the baby was taken by air ambulance to a hospital in Iowa City.

Thomas failed to report suspected child abuse as required by law, regulators said. Thomas has said he determined in the emergency room that the child was having seizures, but did not know the cause. That is why the additional tests were ordered, he said.