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Agency Had 89 Abuse Reports on Schiavo
Florida's Department of Children and Families had received nearly 90 allegations that Michael Schiavo had abused his wife in recent years - but a Florida judge ruled yesterday that DCF summaries of those allegations must remain secret.
The St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune had filed suit for the release of the abuse summaries, which covered 89 reports - the Times said Friday.
But state Judge George Greer ruled Friday the records belong to DCF, and although Terri Schiavo's husband can have access to the abuse files, the records cannot be made public, The Associated Press reported.
During a hearing Thursday, just hours after Terri Schiavo died, DCF attorney Jennifer Lima-Smith asked Greer to keep its records sealed, saying, "It's time to end this case."
Just a few weeks ago, however, the agency was pressing for a full-blown abuse probe.
In the petition filed with Greer's court in early March, the DCF asked him not to remove Schiavo's feeding tube until the agency could investigate 34 pages of materials documenting allegations of abuse, the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time.
The DCF petition said the materials were sent to its abuse hotline on Feb. 18 and Feb. 21, and by law, the agency had to conduct an investigation.
"The allegations in the abuse reports go to the heart of whether abuse, neglect and/or exploitation has been perpetrated by the guardian [Michael Schiavo]," the DCF's 10-page petition said, according to the Sentinel.
The allegations were based partly on bone scans showing Terri Schiavo suffered fractures, as well as statements she made to family and friends that she was unhappy in her marriage, the AP reported Friday.
Responding to allegations of abuse in 1992, Michael Schiavo told the Tampa Tribune: "I've never, ever struck a woman, especially my wife. I was raised better than that."
He called the abuse allegations "utterly
ridiculous," suggesting instead that Terri's injuries may have been
caused during physical therapy sessions.