Judge declines to dismiss abuse charge against pediatrician

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — A judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a complaint charging a Wisconsin pediatrician with physically injuring an infant he was adopting with his wife.

John M. Cox, 39, was charged last month with felony child abuse after an incident last May when he took his daughter to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where he worked as an emergency room doctor. Cox told a colleague he had fallen asleep with the child, woke to her crying and feared he might have rolled onto her and accidentally broken her collarbone.

Initial X-rays did not show the break, which was confirmed later, but bruises on the girl's arms prompted a routine referral to a child abuse specialist at Children's. Days later, Child Protective Services workers removed the girl from Cox and his wife.

Cox's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. But after a hearing attended by about 30 people who appeared in support of Cox, Circuit Judge Stephanie Rothstein rejected the motion, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The case is getting attention from the medical community around the county, with physicians disagreeing on what exactly caused the injuries to the adoptive daughter of Cox and his wife, Sadie Dobrozsi, a pediatric oncologist at Children's. They have experts who reviewed the case and who question the conclusions from Children's physicians, whose initial investigation led to Cox's charges in January.

NBC News first reported Cox's story. The organization has been partnering with the Houston Chronicle on investigative stories about mistaken abuse accusations, child protective services and family separations.

Cox's attorney, Michael Levine, argued at the hearing that rather than show bias for Cox, and just sending him home, the first doctor he consulted "did the right thing" and referred the case to the child abuse team and did his own further investigation before concluding the child's injuries were not from abuse.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Torbenson had countered that the complaint provides expert medical opinion that the baby's injuries “are consistent with a specific abusive mechanism and inconsistent with the Defendant's account of events.”

A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 18.

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