Child-welfare Chief Regrets Handling of Jensen Case

Child-welfare Chief Regrets Handling of Jensen Case

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The chief of Utah's child protection agency regrets that his caseworkers rushed to get a court order requiring chemotherapy for a cancer-stricken boy.

"If only things could have slowed down in the early stages," said Richard Anderson, director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

Anderson is reviewing decisions made in the case of 12-year-old Parker Jensen, who had a tiny lump removed from the soft palate of his mouth last June. Doctors said it was Ewing's sarcoma, a deadly cancer, and prescribed immediate chemotherapy to kill any lingering cancerous cells.

Daren and Barbara Jensen questioned their boy's diagnosis, skipped a court order to deliver him to Primary Children's Medical Center on Aug. 8 for the start of 49 weeks of chemotherapy and were charged with kidnapping for taking Parker out of state.

Daren Jensen said he was researching alternative medical treatments, "doing it right, before one doctor took me straight to court because I disagreed with him."

Anderson said his caseworkers should have negotiated before taking the family to juvenile court.

"They asked for more testing, that is when things broke down," Anderson said. "The trouble was you had the clock ticking."

Daren and Barbara Jensen surrendered Wednesday at the state courthouse on the kidnapping charge after resolving the medical standoff with state authorities. They were to take Parker for an appointment Friday to an Idaho doctor and follow whatever treatment he recommends. Under the agreement, the boy would remain in his parents' custody.

"We would like the dignity of working with a doctor as parents. That has been stolen from us," Daren Jensen said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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