UPDATE: Community rallying around Luverne native, doctor accused of child abuse

By  | 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Doctors at a Wisconsin hospital are calling for change after one of their own, a physician originally from Luverne, Minnesota was accused, they believe wrongly, of child abuse.

Dr. John Cox, right, and his wife, Dr. Sadie Dobrozsi. Courtesy NBC News.

The hospitals own staff is now demanding changes, they tell NBC News.


Imagine taking your child to the emergency room after a sincere accident only to find the hospital has reported you for possible child abuse - not just any hospital but the one you work at.

That is the case right now, for a couple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. John Cox grew up here locally, he's from Luverne, Minnesota.

The community right now is rallying to support John and alert the hospital that they have made a big mistake.

Dr. John Cox, a pediatric emergency room specialist, his wife, Dr. Sadie Dabrozi, is a pediatric oncologist, and their young family has been living a real-life nightmare since last May.

Few knew about their ordeal, or perhaps would have believed it, until an NBC news special investigative report aired on January 27.

In May of 2019, John had taken his one-month-old adopted daughter to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where he and his wife both worked. He says he fell asleep one night while holding her and he wanted to make sure she was okay.

What followed, according to 15 medical experts who later reviewed the case, "was a series of mistakes and misstatements by hospital staff."

Accused of abuse, Child Protective Services quickly came and removed their little girl from their home.

In the video there’s a clip that’s just a portion of what NBC gathered prior to a gag order in the case:

“You’re taking my child from me and you can't answer any of my questions. And she looked at me and said, you're not her mother.

I don't remember exactly how she said it, but I said, you're taking her and I said, I work in an ER, I know when kids are abused. I know sometimes it’s difficult but you guys have this completely wrong.

I and John went upstairs, sat on the floor and held her, told her how much we loved her and told her how much we'd do the rest of our lives to try and get her to come home.”

In his hometown of Luverne, Minnesota.

“I think we struggle with, ‘What can we do?’” says John’s parents.

They're doing everything possible to help.

Because anyone who knows John, they say, knows there is no way he's capable of harming anyone. Especially a child.

“It would be appropriate to tell you about our son.”

John's parents, who can't say anything about the case, simply talked about their middle son.

One thing that stood out, was John's love for his two younger brothers. Both of whom had special needs.

John, since he was a child himself, everyone said, was along for their appointments and became their advocates.

When one of his brothers passed away just a year and a half ago John said “My choice to become a doctor is a result of loving brain, more than any class or mentor. Brian has taught me to be patient, gentle, and kind in my approach to examining a scared child or a nervous teenager and how to guide their parents through the overwhelming experience of having a sick child."

“They made a mistake and don't want to admit it and now John is paying the price.”

Back at the children's hospital, according to the NBC investigative report, fellow doctors are describing an "out of control" child abuse team that is too quick to report minor injuries to authorities and that is too closely aligned with state child welfare investigators.

Three physicians recalled pressure by some child abuse pediatricians to alter medical records and remove passages where they had initially reported having little or no concerns about abuse. There's no evidence, however, to show that happened in John’s case.

The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has since launched what it is calling an "honest and transparent" probe of its handling of child abuse cases.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the hospital has not offered any updates on the investigation. John’s attorney has filed for the case to be dismissed.