“Born Schizophrenic” Parents Face Judge in Medical Abuse Case

“Born Schizophrenic” Parents Face Judge in Medical Abuse Case March 14, 2019
Pic Sunday Photo credit

Yesterday Susan and Michael Schofield squared off before a judge in Los Angeles to learn the fate of their children Bodhi and Jani. The court appearance followed an emergency removal of the children last week from Susan’s home she shares with husband Cory Cabana. During the hearing, the judge issued a gag order on both parents effectively silencing them from speaking any further about their children.

For more than a decade, Jani and Bodhi Schofield’s lives have been documented by both parents. Michael wrote a book about the family’s journey of raising a child with schizophrenia. After publishing his book, the family was featured on Discovery Health’s “Born Schizophrenic.”

As a result of the show, the family has made appearances on Dr. Phil and Oprah. From 2012-2019, Susan used her reality tv fame to start a YouTube channel and Facebook page. Her perpetual sharing of the children’s lives lead to numerous reports to DCFS for abuse.

After the couple divorced in 2015, the two began fighting about the medical management and treatment of both children. Their custody battle reached a pivotal point when they appeared on the Dr. Phil Show in early March.

During the appearance, Michael accused Susan of having Munchausen-by-Proxy. He believed her obsessive need to diagnose their son Bodhi with schizophrenia had her over-medicating their child. Susan admitted to taking Bodhi to over 50 doctors to obtain the diagnosis.

Following the show, DCFS took swift steps and removed the children from Susan’s custody. In an interview with Without a Crystal Ball, Michael told us that DCFS believed Susan was exaggerating Bodhi’s symptoms and misusing medications for their daughter Jani.

With DCFS working to build a case of medical abuse of the children against Susan, the parents and DCFS appeared before a judge on March 13, 2019, to discuss the next steps.

Few details about the hearing have been released. Without a Crystal Ball reached out to Michael. He only told us that he did attend the proceeding but he could not speak about the case due to a gag order placed by the judge.

However, we can report the children will remain in DCFS custody. There are rumors that the parents may be given supervised visits with the children, but that information has not been confirmed. A source connected to the case stated that DCFS is monitoring all social media made posts by the parents including the online forum Kiwi Farms.

A gag order bans parties connected to the case from disclosing specific information to the public. In cases of child custody with DCFS, gag orders can be instituted to prevent parents from gaining public support or interfering with the outcome of the case.

Since both Michael and Susan have used the public to gain sympathy and attention for themselves and their children, the gag order placed by the judge is entirely appropriate. Susan will be unable to share any details about the children nor will she be able to accuse DCFS of wrongly removing her children.

In cases of suspected medical abuse, gag orders can be used to prevent parents from speaking to the media. Legal Dictionary highlights a case from 2013 in Boston where a judge issued a gag order in a suspected medical abuse case.

Doctors at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts diagnosed young Justina Pelletier with mitochondrial disease. However, medical professionals at Boston Children’s Hospital did not agree with the diagnosis, believing she suffers from somatoform disorder instead.

Justina’s parents disagreed with the doctors in Boston, and tried to have their daughter discharged so they could return her to Tufts Hospital. When the parents arrived at the hospital to discharge Justina, they were charged with medical abuse.

The report stated that the parents were seeking medical treatment that the girl did not need. The state took custody of Justina, and a legal battle ensued regarding custody of Justina, as well as her medical treatment.

On November 7, 2013, the court issued a gag order to prevent the Pelletiers from talking about the case to the media. This came about after a media investigation began by WTIC, a Connecticut NewsTalk station. The parents did not agree with the gag order, believing they need to gain support in order to save their daughter’s life.

Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father, spoke with an independent television news network about the controversy surrounding his daughter and her diagnosis. In doing so, Pelletier violated the gag order, and the judge found him to be in contempt of court.”

If we use the above as an example, the gag order is excellent news for the children and the case. The judge is forcing both parents to stay silent. Also, the gag order allows DCFS to complete their investigation without outside interference.

Additionally, neither parent will be able to manipulate or use the public to garner sympathy or share a one-sided story. Privacy laws for minor children prevent DCFS and medical providers from speaking out about cases or patients.

If either parent violates the order, the judge can charge them with contempt of court. If found guilty of contempt of court, the penalties range from fines to 5 days in jail.

As a result, DCFS will be able to evaluate the children, manage their custody, and determine if Susan caused the children’s illnesses. The gag order will also protect the children from people disclosing their location and current health status.

For the first time in their lives, Bodhi and Jani will finally be free from the public eye. The time away will allow the children to heal and recover from their mother’s abuse.

As the civil case continues, there will be limited details revealed. However, a criminal investigation could begin against either parent at any time. If the county determines Susan committed medical abuse, criminal charges of child abuse could follow the custody case.

Stay Tuned.

Watch my YouTube Reports on the case – and subscribe to my channel:

My interview with Michael Schofield:


*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.

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  • otrame

    The drugs that woman admits to giving her son are wildly inappropriate for a kid. That is child abuse all by itself. Any doctor that prescribed them needs to lose their license. And I can’t quite get over my suspicion, probably based on my ignorance, that whatever may be wrong with the daughter, it is not schizophrenia.

    In any case I am very pleased that those kids are safe, for now, that their caregivers can get them off all the meds and start trying to figure out what is really going on with them.

    I’ve know several schizophrenics in my life, with and without meds. They are disabled by their disease, but they are still very much people, often with a great deal to offer the world*, who shouldn’t be sedated into a puddle of goo for anybody’s convenience.

    * Van Gogh, Phillip K. Dick, many others. I knew one old man who lived on his own, with his sister to help deal with things like bills, which he had money for because he had several lucrative patents from when he was an electrical engineer.

  • Raging Bee

    “Squared off before a judge?” You make it sound like US District Thundercourt, the Honorable Judge Tina Turner presiding…

  • dofuckingbetter

    What a shitty excuse for “journalism.” You have a vast misunderstanding of what foster care is and DCFS operations. Please educate yourself.

    “For the first time in their lives, Bodhi and Jani will finally be free from the public eye.” Well, that’s kind of ironic when you write pieces of garbage like this about them, isn’t it?

  • Brian Davis

    Two motions enter. Only one will leave.

  • Good!

  • Also, THANK YOU for speaking out against ABA!

  • Upvoting your own comment?


  • Raging Bee

    What, exactly, did this article get wrong?

  • sounds like something Cory would say.

  • absolutely!

  • Kesiana

    Do you have a source for this? I’m not finding a single other report of this anywhere.

  • Baby Buddha Belly

    If Michael believes that Susan is afflicted with Munchausen By Proxy, why did he leave his children with her and move 1800 miles away? Even if he doesn’t believe that she has MBP, why is he allowing his children to live with a man who he knows nothing about. Michael walking away from his family speaks volumes and certainly discredits his claim to care about them. It’s incredibly sad that he’s Jani and Bodhi’s only chance right now. Here’s to hoping that he can redeem himself by stepping up to the plate and doing right by his children. He knows how to care for them, he’s done it before and knows what it takes.

  • Yep, It’s not been covered anywhere else but here. I spoke directly with Michael (the father)

  • Kimberly Herbert

    All the adults involved with abusing these children need to have any parental rights severed, face asset forfieture with the money being used to support the children, and face 20 or more years in prison.
    By all adults I mean
    both parents
    parents new partners
    Oprah and all the executives/directors/producers involved in her show
    Dr. Phil and all the the executives/directors/producers involved in his show
    Everyone involved with the born schizophrenic show
    Top level executives with Discovery Health

    The same thing should happen with
    Druggers and all their shows
    The Kate shows
    Dance Mom’s
    Toddlers and Tiaras
    and every other reality show that exploited kids.

  • royalpains11

    Because it is difficult to get custody. You need proof of this kind of thing before you can go to a judge and demand custody

  • Baby Buddha Belly

    He had a whole YouTube channel of proof.

  • Sarah Smith

    I followed this family for years and I’ve always been skeptical of their claims but blaming these parents alone when so many other parents are drugging their kids for a range of bogus psychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD and bi-polar is unfair- it’s time to lay the blame squarely on the practice of psychiatry which medicalizes children’s trauma induced behavior and lets dysfunctional parents evade their responsibility to learn adequate parenting skills and let’s abusive parents deflect blame for their failures into their children. It’s time to stop drugging millions of children in the US-stop the harm!

  • Astrin Ymris

    The Justina Pelletier case is totally different. A doctor at one hospital disagrees with a doctor at another hospital… so he calls CPS on the parents??? Why not report the other doctor to the state medical board? Wouldn’t that be the appropriate course of action in such a situation?

    Somatoform disorder is a fancy way of saying “There’s nothing really wrong with her, it’s all in her head.” It’s what doctors call “a diagnosis of exclusion”, which means no doctor can ethically make it unless they’ve tested her for absolutely everything else it could be, which the reporting doctor obviously hadn’t done, because he met her in the ER and directly called CPS.

    Surprise, surprise, the Boston Children’s attempt to behavior modify Justina well on a psych ward did not work, and she was finally returned to her parents after 18 months, no longer able to walk. The parents are suing the hospital; I hope they win. I further hope the the arrogant doctor who misused his position to call the CPS loses his license to practice, and is sentenced to 16 months on a locked psych ward.

  • Arlene

    I was very suspicious as well; something just didn’t seem right about the whole story and the mother appeared to be an exceptionally gifted exploiter. That being said, ADHD is a real condition in children (and some adults as well) although probably being very over-diagnosed. If you’ve ever seen a real case of ADHD, as I have, you will have no doubt of its existence.