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Local Couple Accused of Abusing Infant; Experts Support Parents Claims of Innocence

Thursday, May 5, 2022 @ 06:05 AM

Posted by exploreClarion

cains-journeyFRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – A local couple is facing aggravated assault, child endangerment, and related charges after multiple physical injuries to their three-week-old child were reportedly discovered at a Pittsburgh area hospital.

(Photo above: Emily Layman)

According to court documents, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, the Franklin Police Department filed criminal charges against 22-year-old Cain Christopher Layman and 22-year-old Emily Allyssa Layman.

The charges stem from an investigation initiated by the Franklin Police Department on November 23, 2021, following a report of suspected child abuse (CYS 104 Form).

According to a criminal complaint filed on May 4, 2022, in Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland’s office, the City of Franklin Police Department received a CYS 104 Form on November 23, 2021, regarding a three-week-old child who was at a Pittsburgh hospital with numerous physical injuries that were suspicious in nature.

According to the complaint, the three-week-old child was presented to a Pittsburgh hospital on November 22, 2021, due to vomiting blood. The child was found to allegedly have bruises on the shins and upper back. The affiant–a detective of Franklin Police Department–noted these injuries are concerning for physical abuse due to patterned-injury bruises in a non-mobile child. It was noted that the injuries allegedly caused substantial pain.

The following conditions were allegedly stated: male extreme fussiness since birth; fussy and vomiting at baseline; fussier and vomiting blood since Saturday, November 20, 2021 (two days). The exam listed the patient as “well…except bruising.” The preliminary read from the x-ray listed possible right rib fracture (healing) and left metaphyseal femur fracture–pending final read and medical workup. Per the parents, the patient was born with bruises. Per the parents, their primary care physician had previously examined the patient for bruises. The bruises on the patient’s back, per the parents, the child’s brother may have thrown a toy, and it hit the child, according to the complaint.

On November 22, 2021, when the victim child was admitted to a Pittsburgh hospital, he was diagnosed with having the following injuries:

– Healing medial posterior fractures of the right 2nd, 3rd, and 11th ribs;
– Probable metaphyseal corner fracture of the distal medial left tibia (lower leg fracture); and
– Findings concerning for healing fracture vs. anatomic variants of the distal right femur and proximal tibia bilaterally.

On November 22, 2021, the following multiple purple bruises on the victim were also documented:

– 1 cm horizontal linear bruise of the left medial lower extremity;
– (2) 1 cm vertical parallel bruises over left calf;
– 1 cm round bruise over right anterior lower extremity;
– Pinpoint petechiae of the lower lip;
– 2 cm linear bruise in the crease of left posterior neck;
– 2 irregular bruises over the superior back just distal to the neck; and
– Small round bruise over the left shoulder.

On December 7, 2021, a skeleton survey was conducted on the victim child at an Erie clinic that allegedly confirmed the victim child did, in fact, sustain the following previously-observed and newly-noted confirmed injuries:

– Progressive healing of the right 2nd, 3rd, and 11th ribs (previously known);
– Healing fractures of the left 9th and 10th ribs (new fracture);
– Healing of the previously seen left distal femur metaphysical fracture (previously known);
– Healing of the previously seen left distal tibia metaphysical fracture (previously known);
– New bone formation in the midshaft of the left fibula, suggesting a fracture (new fracture); and
– A healing left metatarsal fracture (new “torture” fracture)

According to the complaint, it had been noted that the alleged left rib fractures raise concern for injury on more than one occasion. It had been allegedly confirmed that the victim child had sustained a total of nine fractures which were in different stages of healing, and a specific date on when said fractures occurred to the victim is difficult to determine due to it taking seven to ten days for the fracture to show up on a scan. (It was noted the fractures must be in a healing state to see them on a scan.) It was also noted that the first group of fractures that the victim child had allegedly sustained was believed by medical experts to have occurred when the victim child was two weeks old, and there were at least two separate occasions of injury to the victim child.

On January 20, 2022, genetic testing was conducted on the victim child at a Pittsburgh hospital where a 33-panel gene test was conducted on the victim child to search for any potential genetic disorders. Also, on January 30, 2022, upper GI endocrinology testing was conducted on the victim child. As a result of this testing, both tests allegedly came back negative, the complaint states.

On February 21, 2022, the victim child underwent medical testing at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois, for the possibility that the victim child might have osteogenesis imperfecta “brittle bone disease.” Said testing allegedly concluded that there was no evidence that the victim child had osteogenesis imperfecta, and from an orthopedic standpoint, no additional follow-up was indicated. Also noted in the testing was that the victim child allegedly had no new acute or healing fractures or bruising since the victim child had been removed from parental care via Venango County CYS safety plan, the complaint indicates.

On December 13, 2021, a City of Franklin detective had a telephone conversation with Emily Layman who reported that “either herself or her husband Cain Layman had been present with their children the entire time that they had them, stating that no one else had access to either one of their children at any time without either herself or her husband Cain being present,” according to the complaint.

The complaint notes that both parents, Cain and Emily Layman, had been allegedly uncooperative with law enforcement, refusing to be interviewed by the detective regarding this investigation.

According to the complaint, based upon the alleged aforementioned facts and circumstances, the multiple injuries sustained to the victim child that had been medically documented, along with the medical diagnosis of doctors and geneticists from a Pittsburgh hospital, the affiant believes that probable cause exists to substantiate the following charges against both Cain Layman and Emily Layman:

– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 1 (two counts)
– Aggravated Assault – Victim Less Than 6 and Defendant 18 or older, Felony 2 (two counts)
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 1 (two counts)
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2 (two counts)

Both Cain Layman and Emily Layman were arraigned on Wednesday, May 4, on the above-listed charges in front of Judge Kirtland.

The above-listed defendants are currently free on $20,000.00 unsecured bail each.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, at 8:30 a.m. in Venango County Central Court.

Emily Layman Speaks Out About Charges, Provides Findings from Experts

Emily Layman spoke to on Wednesday about the case and the alleged abuse.

“I had a very high-risk pregnancy and (my son) lacked significant fetal movement,” said Layman, noting that her son was born with significant bruising.

The Laymans knew something was wrong shortly after their son was born.

“He would barely sleep, he projectile vomited, he’d bruise at the slightest touch, and he even vomited digestive tract blood on two occasions,” said Layman.

“We sought medical care at his local pediatrician multiple times and then finally went to (a Pittsburgh hospital) when he was a little over 3 weeks old.”

Little did the Laymans know, their world would soon be turned upside down.

“We were accused of abuse because they found what they thought were multiple fractures,” said Layman.

Shortly after the accusations, the Laymans infant son and their two other children were removed from their home by Venango County Children and Youth Services.

“After our children were removed we traveled all over the United States trying to find answers for our son,” said Layman.

Those answers came in the form of two doctors who are considered experts in a condition called Metabolic Bone Disease.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Metabolic bone diseases are “disorders of bone strength usually caused by abnormalities of minerals (such as calcium or phosphorus), vitamin D, bone mass or bone structure, with osteoporosis being the most common. While bone loss does occur as a part of the normal aging process, there are many diseases, medications, and conditions that can increase the risk of bone failure. When untreated, osteoporosis can lead to fragility fractures, bone deformities, and serious disability.”

One of those experts, Dr. Doug Benson, a board certified practicing Orthopedic Surgeon in California, has been a strong advocate of the Laymans.

Dr. Benson is an expert in pathologic fractures and Metabolic Bone Disease who has testified in several similar cases. He’s also been retained as an expert witness for the U.S. government and has consulted in multiple international cases.

He’s also the founder of the Foundation for the Study of Metabolic Bone Disorders which financially supports research and the study of Metabolic Bone Disorders.

After a consultation with the Laymans, Dr. Benson reviewed the infant’s medical records and viewed x-rays on a pro bono basis and submitted his findings in a report.

The findings were overwhelming in the Laymans favor.

“I am certain this is a case of a very serious medical misdiagnosis which is unsupportable and actually contradicted by the findings I found in reviewing this material,” said Dr. Benson in the report.

“In this case, there is a plethora of information that was unrecognized that resulted in unsupportable allegations of child abuse against the parents who were the care providers.”

“The idea that any specific fracture is pathognomonic of child abuse is outdated and unsupportable,” the report continues. “The skeletal x-rays taken show a plethora of findings consistent with and diagnostic of the inadequate early bone mineralization of Metabolic Bone Disease.”

“The difference between normal bone and bone such as was present here is profound, the difference between night and day.”

Dr. Benson concluded the letter by stating: “I am certain of this and would testify under oath to it.”

View Full Report from Dr. Doug Benson (PDF) spoke with Dr. Benson on Wednesday and confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

“I am confident that the bruising occurred during the birthing process,” said Dr. Benson.

“This is not an isolated case,” said Dr. Benson. “There are hundreds or even thousands of cases per year.”

A second expert – Dr. Marvin Miller, a Dayton, Ohio-based pediatrician – wrote a letter on behalf of the Laymans.

“I believe the most likely explanation for the (Multiple Unexplained Fractures) in Cain Michael Layman is MBD from the multiple risk factors previously noted.

“The X-rays show poor bone mineralization which is consistent with MBD. I have evaluated over 1,000 cases of infants with MUF in the past 27 years and have published my findings in peer-reviewed journals as indicated in my CV.”

View Full Report from Dr. Marvin Miller (PDF)

In light of what appears to be contradicting evidence between the prosecution’s medical experts and experts who support the Laymans, Emily Layman acknowledged that the matter may have to be sorted out in a criminal trial.

“It is a battle of experts and needs to be fought out in court, and our doctors will be making expert testimony,” said Layman.

“This same thing has happened to so many people,” said Layman. “And, eventually, a lot of them won their fight.”

“But, that was after they dealt with the same trauma of losing their children and facing criminal charges.”

Layman said she’s also approached State Representative R. Lee James about a bill proposal that would make second opinions from independent experts mandatory in criminal cases like the one the Laymans are embroiled in.

“We were not given this opportunity before being accused,” added Layman.

Calls to Venango County District Attorney Shawn White were not immediately returned.

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