- Melissa Diegel is charged with 8 counts of felony child abuse stemming from an alleged case of Munchausen by Proxy
- Diegel is accused of getting her daughters multiple unnecessary medical procedures from 2011 through 2014 while they were under the age of 15
- Judge Katherine Cooper denied a request for bail claiming Diegel is a flight risk and her victims are fearful of her and her attempts to contact them
- Diegel was indicted by a Maricopa County Grand Jury earlier this year then arrested in Florida and extradited back to Arizona
- Supporters of Diegel have filed strange court documents claiming she is in jail for uncovering a secret pedophile club
In a suspected case of Munchausen by Proxy, Melissa Diegel was denied bail while she waits to go to court for eight counts of felony child abuse.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper denied a motion to modify conditions of release that were argued in July. According to court documents, Diegel failed to present any new evidence from her June 14 arraignment.
The court noted that during Diegel’s court hearings for severance of her rights over her two daughters she failed to appear in court a total of seven times between October 22 and November 19, 2015. While it is not clear if her children decided to press charges against Diegel, all the court filings make it clear they are involved in the case.
Not only are Diegel’s children listed as the victims, but their views towards Diegel are noted as a reason for denying her bail. “The views of the victims who are fearful of [Diegel],” the document reads. The filing goes on to list Diegel’s attempts to make contact with her daughters as another reason for denying the motion. Contact with her daughters is a violation of the Juvenile Court orders.
Melissa Diegel Indictment
A Maricopa County Grand Jury indicted Diegel on a total of eight counts of felony child abuse earlier this year. According to the indictment, the abuse occurred from January 1, 2011, to April 8, 2014. Following the indictment, Diegel was arrested in Florida and extradited back to Arizona. The indictment alleges Diegel manipulated her daughters’ medication and nourishment to cause physical symptoms in order to get doctors to provide unnecessary medical procedures. The girls received feeding tubes and other medical procedures along with wheelchairs that were no longer needed once out of Diegel’s care.
Munchausen By proxy (MSP)
MSP is a rare psychological disorder believed to be driven by the need for attention. Typically, a parent or a caregiver will lie about or cause symptoms in a child or adult in their care in order to receive unnecessary medical procedures and gain sympathy or support from their community for taking care of the victim who is believed to be sick. Most MSP cases do not appear to be driven by monetary or material gain.
While some try to blame doctors for performing unnecessary procedures, that argument falls short of being valid. Those with MSP will typically spend time finding a rare disease that lacks solid research and studies. The person then produces physical symptoms either by lying, altering tests, falsifying medical records, or they go as far as to induce symptoms through poisoning, suffocating, starving and causing infection. In Diegel’s case she is accused of purposely causing constipation in her children, along with not giving them medication and altering tests.
A brief summary of the charges against Diegel can be read below.
- April 10, 2013: A child under 15 years of age was given a medically unnecessary rectal biopsy.
- April 29, 2013: A child under 15 years of age was given a medically unnecessary Cecostomy.
- July 3, 2013: A child under 15 years of age was given a medically unnecessary PICC line and TPN surgical procedure.
- September 13, 2013: A child under 15 years of age had a medically unnecessary G-tube surgically placed.
- July 20, 2012: A child under 15 years of age received a medically unnecessary Nissen fundoplication and gastronomy surgical procedure.
- November 3, 2013: A child under 15 years of age had a medically unnecessary G-tube surgically placed.
- January 1, 2011 through April 8, 2014: Diegel intentionally or knowingly did cause a child to suffer physical injury or abuse.
Diegel managed to build a small following on social media under the guise that her children were “medically kidnapped” from her due to the rareness of their disease. A claim that has no factual evidence to support it. Despite a lack of supporting evidence, Diegel’s supporters claim she is being punished for “exposing” the Arizona Department of Child Safety to her small Facebook audience for medically kidnapping her daughters.
Even though her daughters are the state’s primary and only victims, other supporters believe Diegel is being charged as an attempt to keep her older daughter from suing DCS when she turns 18. A strange theory, as Diegel’s incarceration would not prevent any kind of lawsuit on behalf of her daughter from moving forward.
Martin Lynch: Professor Of Constitutional Law
Two different bizarre court amicus motions have been filed on Diegel’s behalf. On July 16, Martin Lynch — who claims to be a Professor of Constitutional Law on Facebook — entered an amicus on Diegel’s behalf. In the document, Lynch claims it should be the doctor performing the surgeries that is being held accountable, even though the doctor was only treating physical symptoms allegedly caused by Diegel. Lynch also makes accusations towards the prosecutor’s office, demands Diegel’s release, and references colonists setting up their own courts in 1768.
Malinda Sherwyn And The Secret Handshake Club
On July 19, an even stranger amicus was entered on Diegel’s behalf by Malinda Sherwyn. Judging from her Facebook page Sherwyn appears to be an activist for family rights. In her amicus Sherwyn claims Diegel is in jail “to be killed” because she has “uncovered vast and pervasive corruption surrounding Pedophilia Rings supplied with children by [DCS.]” Sherwyn’s name for DCS in the court filing is “DCT” which stands for “Department of Child Trafficking.” Sherwyn’s filing does not make a lot of sense and even claims “We begged her to stop, fearing she would be killed.”
Sherwyn goes on to claim “THERE IS NO CRIME” because in her eyes Diegel “has committed NO CRIMES.” According to Sherwyn, the only people that have committed any crimes are “DCT” and the members of the “Secret Handshake Club.” Sherwyn claims the Secret Handshake Club must stay secret, “Therefore, Melissa must die.” Apparently members of the Secret Handshake Club “usually have a suitcase full of money in their car and nobody knows where it came from.” At the very least her and Diegel know of the Secret Handshake Club but they apparently have not figured out the source of their money as of yet.
Following her wild conspiracy theory of a child trafficking secret club with suitcases of money, Sherwyn respectfully requests Diegel be moved to the Maricopa County Medical Center. Sherwyn also requests for friends and family to be allowed to visit Diegel, because why not? Both Sherwyn and Lynch claim Diegel is not a flight risk, despite her missing seven court dates for her parental rights and being extradited from Florida to Arizona. It is not clear if Diegel gave Lynch or Sherwyn approval for either document to be filed on her case.