The unusual prosecution of a Grants Pass mother for allegedly subjecting her children to unnecessary surgeries has ended in a plea deal and probation.

The outcome for Katherine "Kate" Parker represented a major step down from the initial 43-count indictment for medical child abuse by Multnomah County prosecutors — which could have put Parker behind bars for life. It had represented the first case of its kind in Oregon.

KATHERINE PARKERThe deal was reached even as Parker's defense lawyers had filed motions that challenged the medical basis for the case and also could have forced much of the prosecution to move to Josephine County.

Prosecutors had alleged Parker “knowingly caused physical injury” to a son and two daughters with medical procedures, including surgeries, that were performed unnecessarily due to false statements made by Parker. They also accused her of raising money with false statements.

Among the surgeries questioned were several conducted by Portland neurosurgeon Monica Wehby, a candidate for U.S. Senate. But in December prosecutors dropped those charges without issuing an explanation. In all, 14 counts were dropped, including the most serious ones.

Under the deal, Parker pleaded no contest to five charges, including three misdemeanors for which she agreed to five years of probation, including criminal mistreatment, reckless endangerment.

Parker also pleaded no contest to counts of felony criminal mistreatment, but those will be deferred for two years. At that point one will be dismissed and the other reduced to a misdemeanor, assuming she complies with probation.

The Medill Justice Project, an online investigative reporting initiative affiliated with Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, in December published an investigation challenging several aspects of the case.

By Nick Budnick
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