Monday, March 22, 2010

NY socialite accused of killing autistic son said to have Munchausen by proxy in 2008

From the NY Daily News:

More than a year before she allegedly murdered her son with an overdose of pills, millionaire Gigi Jordan was diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy syndrome for "medical abuse" of the boy, prosecutors revealed March 19.

The mental illness causes parents to invent ailments for a young child or make them sick - and then seek treatment for then.

"Professionals have diagnosed her as [having] Munchausen syndrome by proxy," Assistant District Attorney Kerry O'Connell said in court.

"She was seeking unnecessary treatment of her child," O'Connell said, adding that hospital staffers saw that as "medical abuse."

She provided no other details, including what illness Jordan claimed afflicted 8-year-old Jude Mirra (pictured), who was also autistic.

The discussion came up during a hearing on whether Jordan should be released on $5 million bail from a hospital jail ward and sent to a psychiatric hospital or allowed to live in her Trump International condo under 24-hour guard.

Prosecutors said that aside from the Munchausen's diagnosis in 2008, "we don't have any idea what her mental illness is."

"You're being asked to buy a pig in a poke," O'Connell told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon.

Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel says a psychiatric report from Elmhurst Hospital, where Jordan is being held, isn't ready yet.

But he says the fact that she tried to commit suicide when she killed her son Feb. 5 at the Peninsula hotel is proof she's sick in the head.

He dismissed the prosecution's claim of a Munchausen diagnosis, but acknowledged that his client "traveled through this country from hospital to hospital" hoping to find a cure for autism.

Outside court, Shargel said that during an involuntary mental-ward commitment in Wyoming in 2008, his client was initially found to be suffering from the syndrome - but then it was withdrawn.

"That diagnosis wasn't found, she was released." he said, adding that prosecutors "are cherry picking the medical records."