Fugitive Father Defends Keeping Son Out of Utah

Fugitive Father Defends Keeping Son Out of Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A father charged with kidnapping his own son said Sunday that authorities were trying to force chemotherapy on the boy for an unconfirmed cancer.

Daren Jensen said his lawyers were asking Utah authorities to drop custody and kidnapping warrants as part of negotiations to end the standoff.

Jensen spoke to The Associated Press by phone from Pocatello, Idaho, on Sunday. He and his wife, Barbara, left Utah and split up two weeks ago, with the mother taking the 12-year-old boy to Houston for another medical opinion.

"Any parent with concern for a child would want to know definitely what he has before doing something as invasive as 49 weeks of chemotherapy," Daren Jensen said.

Barbara Jensen told a local television station: "They have taken away our rights as parents. It is our decision as to treatment."

Fugitive Father Defends Keeping Son Out of Utah

The mother and son returned Saturday to Pocatello after Utah authorities foiled their plans by alerting a Houston clinic of the Utah warrant for Parker Jensen's custody.

Daren Jensen said he wasn't satisfied by a diagnosis that Parker has a rare and deadly form of cancer, Ewing's sarcoma. He accused doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City of trying to rush chemotherapy.

The family had already left Utah when a juvenile court judge issued a warrant for their son's custody. It was at a cabin at Bear Lake in Idaho when Utah authorities filed the kidnapping charges, he said.

For those reasons, Jensen called the custody and kidnapping warrants "bogus."

No defendant can avoid a court order by "taking a vacation," countered Kent Morgan, a deputy district attorney for Salt Lake County. He said the parents are defying a court order by failing to return to Utah with Parker Jensen.

Daren Jensen offered another defense. He said he was supposed to get a hearing in juvenile court Aug. 20 to explain why the family was refusing to start Parker's chemotherapy.

Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the Utah attorney general's office, said he had no information to verify or deny that account.

Within days of an Aug. 9 warrant obtained by Utah's child-welfare authorities for the boy's custody, Daren and Barbara Jensen were charged with kidnapping.

Daren Jensen was arrested on a fugitive warrant Aug. 16 near his in-laws' residence. He is resisting extradition.

Utah doctors diagnosed a rare but often fatal form of cancer in Parker Jensen and removed a tumor from under his tongue last April. To prevent a reoccurrence of Ewing's sarcoma, the doctors recommended chemotherapy.

The family says the boy is testing negative for cancer and that chemotherapy would only stunt his growth and leave him sterile.

Instead, Barbara Jensen planned to take the boy to a Houston clinic run by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who treats 72 forms of cancer without chemotherapy. But Ewing's sarcoma isn't among them, said Mike Goldberg, the clinic's public relation's manager.

"Ewing's is a very different form of cancer and we don't have a trial for it," Goldberg told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The newspaper quoted medical experts saying it was doubtful chemotherapy would stunt Parker's growth or leave him sterile. Sterility could occur if the patient has a tumor in the pelvic region but not in other parts of the body, said Joe Simone, a pediatric oncologist and former director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Simone said one of his patients, a teenage girl who had Ewing's sarcoma, suffered a "terrible death" 20 years ago when for religious reasons her parents refuse to agree to chemotherapy.

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

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