Nobody Should Believe Me S02

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Star Witness

As we continue to process the far-reaching implications of the shocking verdict in the Kowalski case, we take a closer look at Maya Kowalski’s testimony and what we know about her. She’s emerged as a divisive figure in the case: alternately being cast as a brave heroine or as a manipulator. But given the evidence of her possible abuse and the questionable motives of the adults surrounding her, the truth is far more nuanced.

We bring in survivor Jordyn Hope and child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Mary Sanders to help unpack the impact of trauma on memory and the aftereffects of medical child abuse. As Maya continues to be thrust into the spotlight for a role she didn’t choose, we grapple with the outcome of what it could all mean for her.

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Show Notes

Host Andrea Dunlop:

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The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s MBP Practice Guidelines can be downloaded here.

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[00:00:00] Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of Large Media. That’s L-A-R-J Media.

Before we begin, a quick warning that in this show we discuss child abuse and this content may be difficult for some listeners. If you or anyone you know is a victim or survivor of medical child abuse, please go to Munchausensupport. com to connect with professionals who can help.

Over the last couple of weeks, Since the Kowalski verdict came down, a lot of people have been reaching out to me, asking me, what do we do next? And asking me how they can help. So, you know, obviously, listening to and sharing this show really helps with awareness, but I wanted to give you a few other ideas about actions you can take if you’re feeling really upset and scared about what’s happening right now.

So, Munchausen Support is the non profit that we shout out in this show, and we do accept donations. So you can do that on our website. That money will go towards providing [00:01:00] emergency funds for survivors who are in bad situations. It will help us continue to facilitate our support groups and will also go towards providing professional trainings which are very much needed.

Also, we do need volunteers. So if you’re someone who would like to facilitate a support group or if you are a therapist, a doctor who could do testimony, a lawyer, we hear from so many families who need help and if you’re willing to give your time, we also really appreciate that. And if you have a story about medical child abuse, whether you’re a survivor, family member, friend, professional, if you’re ready to share that, We’re definitely ready to hear it.

If you share it on social, tag me, I’m at Andrea Dunlop on Instagram, and I’ll share it. Or, you can email us, or call us and leave us a voicemail. You can also tell us if you’re a professional who has an opinion on this verdict that you’d like to share, or if you are a person with a chronic illness, or a parent of a child with a chronic illness, and [00:02:00] you’d like to share your take on it.

We wanna hear all of it. So our email is hello at nobody should believe and the voicemail box is 4 8 4 7 9 8 0 2 6 6. We will leave both of these in the show notes and both are on our website. You can also sign up for our mailing list on our website and we will keep you up to date. on other actions that you can take to support victims and families as we carry on.

People believe their eyes. That’s something that actually is so central to this whole issue and to people that experience this is that we do believe the people that we love when they’re telling us something. If you questioned everything that everyone told you, you couldn’t make it through your day. I’m Andrea Dunlop and this is Nobody Should Believe Me.

Today’s episode was recorded before. The verdict came down in the [00:03:00] Kowalski trial. So we now know how this trial ends. It ended with a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor to the tune of about a quarter billion dollars. I wanted to air this episode mostly as it is because everything I say here about Maya I think still stands.

And if anything, honestly, the fact that sudden fame and many millions of dollars have been added to this situation.

After spending the last two months eyeball deep in this Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins all children’s trial, it feels like I can hardly remember a time before the first thing I did every day was popping my earbuds to hop on Zoom and see what Judge Hunter Carroll and the gang were up to. And if it’s been this consuming as an outsider reporting on it, I can’t even fathom what it has been like for the girl who is at the [00:04:00] center of this whole mess, Maya Kowalski.

Maya has emerged as a somewhat controversial figure during this trial, and the weight of what is being foisted on this girl’s shoulders is staggering. I’ve seen so much online conversation about Maya, and it’s been dividing itself kind of into two camps, much the way all of this trial has been. So…

Depending on who you’re listening to, either Maya is the heroic poster girl for people with CRPS and a victim who is poised to take down a corrupt malevolent system, or she is a liar and a grifter who’s looking for clout and a payday. So, which is it? Is Maya telling the truth? Or is she lying? The real answer, I believe, can be found in a complicated, liminal space between.

One which feels, after these past few years, almost eerily [00:05:00] recognizable to me. So, what have we learned from Maya these past eight weeks? The deeper we’ve gotten into this trial, the more it has become clear how much this lawsuit really relies primarily on Maya’s recollection of certain events. Take, for example, the claims about Kathy Beatty, who’s been cast as one of the central villains of this story.

And even though she herself was dismissed from the suit, she’s still involved because one of the most serious charges against Johns Hopkins All Children’s,

the battery charge, centers around her. So here is how Maya describes Kathy Beatty. This clip is from the Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case.

There’s many instances, numerous occasions, that she lifted me up and put me on her lap. She like clawed through my hair. Um, I was close enough to her almost like at all times to the point where I knew she had permanent eyeliner. That’s not something like, you know, unless you’re really close to a person.

Um, [00:06:00] she would tell me like weird details about her life. Um, yeah. Maya has made a number of claims about Kathy Beatty and her conduct during the time that Maya was at Johns Hopkins. Maya said that Kathy Beatty told her that her mother was crazy and that she’d been put in a mental institution. She also said that Kathy told her that she wanted to adopt her and be her mother.

And she said that any of the physical comfort that Kathy Beatty occasionally provided her was completely unwelcome and that she really just hated this woman. So, by the time Kathy Beatty took the stand, I have to say it was almost shocking to see her. I mean, number one, she looked pretty different. She changed her hair quite a bit from the first clips that we saw of her in the Netflix film.

And she just honestly seemed like a nice lady that you would sit next to at the nail salon who would tell you about her grandkids. Now, I came into this having some questions about Kathy [00:07:00] Beatty, and we’ve addressed already this previous arrest for child abuse that happened at her old job. Again, the charges were dropped, but that’s still a serious situation.

And we will talk more about her testimony in a coming episode. But honestly, the way she’d been portrayed by the plaintiff’s side, you would think she would be up there twirling her mustache. So, there was really a laundry list of allegations about Kathy Beatty’s conduct with Maya during the time that Maya was at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, and some of these Made it into the Netflix film, of course, the idea that Kathy was the person who was supervising the phone calls and that she was shutting down these phone calls.

It came out during the trial that that was not Kathy Beatty’s voice on the phone. It was actually Charlotte Laporte, who’s a person who works for DCF. You know, there was these other things that, for instance, she offered to make Maya a chocolate cake if Maya did well in her physical therapy. Kathy Beatty says she didn’t.

She wouldn’t do that. Although, Maya did [00:08:00] apparently really like chocolate cake and they would get it for her from the cafeteria. And then there

was this whole mishakas about the Christmas dress. According to the plaintiff, Jack Kowalski had dropped off a number of dresses for Maya so that she could wear them when they were celebrating Christmas together in the hospital.

So the plaintiffs claimed that these dresses were purposefully kept for Maya and that they were held in the social work office at the hospital. It appears that these dresses were delivered to Maya, and we know this because there was a picture of Maya in a red Christmas dress that was taken while she was celebrating with her family.

Um, there was still some additional back and forth about, well, there was another dress, there was a cream and blue dress that didn’t get delivered. And probably not surprising given how long ago this happened, nobody could really agree on which dresses were delivered and when, but honestly, a charge like this in a case this serious, Just [00:09:00] seems pretty silly.

But, of course, there were some more serious allegations around Kathy Beatty, and the one that came to play the most in this trial was about photographs taken of Maya before and after she went to a court appearance. The purpose of taking these photos was to document the condition of her skin because she was being discharged from the hospital very briefly to go to a court appearance with her uncle and they wanted to see if there were any changes that happened between those two times.

So how this went down, the versions of this story vary greatly. Here is Maia talking about her recollections of Kathy Beatty’s involvement in this photo incident. And this audio is from Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case. She came in alone initially, and she told me that if I wanted to go and see my mom in court, I was going to have to be stripped naked and photographed by her, nude, [00:10:00] um, so I could go to court.

I cried and cried because I’m a very modest and private person when it comes to stuff like that. I have been and there’s a reason for that. I really respect my privacy. And eventually I was able to reason with Kathy and she said that I could keep my training bra on and my shorts. That’s when she left the room.

She came back with, um, nurse Alicia. I don’t know her last name, but she came in. And she assisted with holding me down and moving me and removing, um, some articles of my clothing for the photos. Now here is how Kathy Beatty describes the situation. Was Maya happy? No, she wasn’t happy about it. Did she cooperate?

Yes, she cooperated. Was there any screaming or shouting? None. Did either you or Nurse Alcide have to hold her down? No. Alicia Alcide, the bedside nurse who was present [00:11:00] at the time, also testified and her version of events more or less corroborates Kathy Beatty’s version of the story. Now, there’s no video evidence of this incident, so it’s really impossible to know exactly what happened, but I think this is one of many situations where kind of two things can be true, right?

No one denies, including Kathy Beatty, that Maya did not want these photos taken. They had to take them, so whether or not the staff went out of their way to make it particularly awful is kind of another matter altogether. So, this is just one example of many, but the running theme of Maya’s testimony is basically this, her CRPS is real, her mother did the right thing with the treatment that she was giving her, and all of the doctors and all of the other people who’ve testified otherwise are lying.

Here is Maya responding to the claims of Dr. Lewis, who performed the neuropsych eval of her while she was at Johns Hopkins. This audio is from Law and Crime Network. He regularly put words in my mouth. He [00:12:00] tried to get me to agree to things, and I would tell him, no, that’s not true. Um, and yet he wrote it down on the piece of paper.

So I think it’s important to remember whenever we’re listening to Maya that she is 17 now and she was 10 years old when all of this was happening. But what she’s saying here is pretty representative of the party line of the plaintiff and this was echoed in Anderson’s closing. Here he is in his closing arguments, this audio is from Law and Crime Network.

In this case, for reasons that I still cannot fathom in many ways, Johns Hopkins doctors, who are supposed to do no harm, just blew up this family. It’s beyond me, and I just have a difficult time understanding motivations. The more I listen to this, the plaintiff’s story, it’s a conspiracy theory. And [00:13:00] it’s a conspiracy theory because for what they’re saying to be true, you would have to have so many different people in on it.

You would have to have all of these different doctors who are at unrelated institutions all in on it. Anderson even said during his closing that he found it suspicious how similar all of their statements were as though they coordinated it. And I’m like, no, they were all just observing the same thing.

The idea that these doctors that have pretty questionable credentials like Dr. Herpatrick and like questionable practices, i. e. Dr. Hanna, They’re the sort of solid ones and they’re the only ones who are telling the truth and then all of these other doctors from well respected institutions are, for some reason, all

coordinating to lie about this case and then there’s no motive for anybody doing that and it just, it doesn’t make any sense.

It’s always sounded like a conspiracy theory to me and actually the more they tried to explain it, the more it sounded like a [00:14:00] conspiracy theory. So now, I don’t know how much Jack Kowalski himself, the lawyers, or any of the other grown ups involved in this actually believe that this was some massive conspiracy against the Kowalski family, but my question is, does Maya believe that?

Because I think it’s possible that she really could believe that. So, I wanted to get a survivor to come and talk to us and help us understand what is maybe going on with Maya. We called up friend of the show, Jordan Ho. Here we are talking about this piece of things. When I say I don’t think she has answers, I don’t mean that I don’t think her voice should be heard and she shouldn’t be able to speak for herself.

But like, they were sort of confronting her with some of these discrepancies of, well, you know, this doctor said that and this doctor said that and her response was always, they’re lying, they’re liars, they’re lying, they’re liars. And that was really sad to me because of course, like, I think reading that [00:15:00] as an adult, from the outside, you’re like, well, they can’t all…

be lying and that’s why they were asking her the questions. It really struck me that she’s been inculcated with this worldview of these people were her enemies. Yeah. And she uses words like captors and she uses words like, you know, imprisonment and that kind of thing. And also something that struck me as being really interesting and just in terms of like, Because I think about this a lot, especially in these situations of like, or even in my own life, thinking back on some of the things that happened with my sister and how I remember them or how I remember them differently, or sort of like doing that retcon with your own memories once you find out the truth and, um, but.

is that she couldn’t remember any of the names of the treating doctors, but she remembered the name of Dr. Sally Smith. And she only saw Dr. Sally Smith for, I believe they said in the film, and I think this was [00:16:00] documented elsewhere, like 10 minutes. And that makes sense because Sally Smith was not a treating physician.

But she remembers her. And so to me that tells me that This narrative of Dr. Sally Smith in particular as the villain and Kathy Beatty as the villain, like, that’s why those two names have stuck out to her rather than some of these other people that, you know, in particular the doctors, rather than some of these other people that she had a whole bunch of interactions with.

So that just, I think that was just, that’s just a reflection, you know, it just, it struck me that she couldn’t remember the names of the other ones, but it seems to me she’s gotten the message about who she should focus on. Yes. I mean, I’ve had a lot of repressed memories that have come up in adulthood or like a lot of chunks of my life are just completely blank and are missing and things like that.

So I obviously believe in like not remembering certain things or remembering like very odd things and all of that. [00:17:00] That being said, some of the different pieces of what she would remember versus not remember did feel very clear. Interesting, I guess, to say. When it comes to Maya’s testimony, I think there are two equally possible explanations.

I think that either she really believes everything that she’s saying and is genuinely just so deep in this worldview of her family that she really sees things this way, or if she is knowingly exaggerating things, or sort of overstating things, or even lying, I still don’t feel that she’s culpable for that because of the situation that she’s been put in.

So whether or not she believes it, and I think it could very well be somewhere in between those. to things. She may be starting to have questions about some of this. In fact, I, I hope that that is maybe an outcome [00:18:00] of this trial. But like, even if she isn’t, she can’t be labeled as a co conspirator given the fact that I believe she’s an abuse victim and she’s 17 years old.

That’s not an appropriate way to see her. There’s also many reasons that, like, her genuine memories of this time may not be reliable. For one thing, she was 10 years old at the time and she was coming off a year of being given, on a weekly basis, amounts of ketamine that were 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage.

And we know that ketamine can affect short term memory and this is a side effect that Beata recorded during the time that Maya was being treated. So this is one of the known side effects of ketamine. This whole thing is really tricky. So I called up Dr. Mary Sanders. She is a clinical professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford, and we talked about Maya’s testimony.

You know, as far as how to listen to the testimony of [00:19:00] Maya as she tries to remember what things were like when she was 10. I mean, I think about my own memories, and certainly if there is something, like there are some, uh, Pieces of evidence that were letters or pictures or videos, and I would think those would be helpful to her.

Again, No matter what, she can only see it through her own lens. And I think what we need to keep in mind is whatever those memories are will always be filtered. They’ll be filtered through what’s happened after as well, and sort of the story. We all have stories about our experiences and we tend to consolidate them depending on where we are in the moment.

Just, again, watching her on the stand. She seems very much to believe at this point that she was wronged by the hospital. I did see some times, I think this was yesterday when I was watching, in which he did [00:20:00] acknowledge there were some people that were very nice to her in the hospital. But for, but I think that’s the story that.

fits for her at this point. I would think that if there is any part of her that is aware that her, you know, that there was over medicalization or conscious or unconscious, it’s very hard to know about your unconscious, but any conscious, uh, you know, symptoms that were being created as a result of this, situation in her, in her home.

I, I would think that would be hard. I think that would be hard to kind of be able to weave into your, your self story. There’s also a really complicated interplay between memory and trauma. There’s a growing body of research that shows that people confuse the information that comes after a traumatic event with what actually occurred during the event.

And this makes it harder and harder to access. the truth of what happened over time. And given this, it [00:21:00] makes me wonder, you know, how much of Maya’s memory is of what she actually experienced and how much of it is the story that she’s subsequently been told by her father, by the lawyers, by the filmmakers about what happened to her.

Many people who supported Jack Kowalski’s lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children’s have positioned themselves as being on Maya’s side. And Maya has been absolutely adamant that her mother was not abusing her. But the evidence tells a different story, and we’ve seen that now. It’s worth noting that we don’t have all the evidence about Beata.

I don’t have Dr. Sally Smith’s report. The police investigation on this case was incomplete, but I land here where I often do on these cases that don’t make it all the way through the system. If this was an abuse, what other plausible explanation could there possibly be? Now, the [00:22:00] plaintiffs use the fact that Maya, according to them, had CRPS as their explanation.

But Maya’s having CRPS wouldn’t explain why Beata, for example, reported that diagnosis to a doctor a week before it was given. And her CRPS alone wouldn’t explain why Beata continued time and again to insist that Maya get the most dangerous treatment for it. Not just the Ketamine and the Ketamine coma, but a host of other drugs including Propofol, Valium, which infamously a nurse, witnessed her give Maya as a reward for good behavior and Ed.

And then also the intra Clonidine pump, which was the treatment that she insisted on getting, if they were going to be transferred to Nemours. And this is the reason that they declined the transfer because Nemours said that they weren’t going to do that for her. Her having CRPS also doesn’t explain any of the other inconsistencies that came out during [00:23:00] this trial about Maya’s alleged asthma, for example, or why Beata kept presenting Maya to doctors as having immunodeficiency even though she’d been to three separate doctors who told her that Maya didn’t have immunodeficiency.

And it certainly doesn’t explain why Beata was asking about hospice care for a child who wasn’t dying. And it doesn’t even begin to explain Beata’s blog. And if it was CRPS… And Beata was doing the right thing in pursuing those treatments, then why did Maya recover once she was gone? If there is a plausible explanation for all of these things, the plaintiff certainly didn’t offer it during this trial.

It is really upsetting to me to see this online chatter about Maya being quote, a liar and manipulative. I believe strongly at this point that she is a victim of medical child [00:24:00] abuse. And given that lens, There is every chance that she doesn’t know the truth yet, and as we discussed with Mary Sanders, many survivors don’t understand what’s happened to them until they’re adults.

I’ve had several adults that recognize that they were victims of medical child abuse as adults, and for the most part, they wanted to understand their story. And they also wanted to be able to sort out their feelings, uh, toward their perpetrator. You know, the combination of, of love and anger and betrayal.

This was also true for Jo, and Jo tells us here about their revelations of their own abuse. So growing up, I had no idea anything about Munchausen by proxy. I thought I was. Sick my entire life. I thought I had rare blood diseases and asthma and a bunch of other ailments and it wasn’t until I was 22 [00:25:00] or 23 and I was in a abnormal psychology class for school and Our professor started talking about what Munchausen and Munchausen by proxy were and suddenly I was flooded with A bunch of memories and a bunch of pieces just kind of clicked together and I got my medical records sent to me and there had been reports made specifically about Munchausen by proxy and page after page of my medical records very blatantly showed the abuse that I had gone through.

Yeah, and as you mentioned, you do a lot of work with survivors in our peer support groups and as an individual counselor now, so in your experience, hearing from those folks, do most people have a similar experience where they realize sometime in adulthood that they were victimized or do they have a sense of it when they are actually kids in the house?

Absolutely [00:26:00] not. Usually, I think, I mean, there’s a lot to be said about when you’re a kid, you couldn’t really have these realizations because you have to believe that you’re safe in the home that you’re in, regardless of the abuse that is going on. And also, you don’t know it’s not normal until you know it’s not normal.

So a lot of survivors I talk to, I mean, some people find out in their 20s, 30s, 40s or later and it’s really sad to see but a lot of people, there’s been people who’ve had very similar situations where they were in a class in school for psychology and that’s when they first even heard the term and things started to click.

So I’ve wondered as I’ve watched this trial if Maya, you know, she’s been sitting front and center for most of it and I, I wonder if she’s absorbed anything that might help her unravel all of this later on. Regardless, she’s got a really long road ahead of her. You know, there was a lot of talk about conversion disorder throughout the course of this trial, and again, this is basically when someone is having [00:27:00] physical symptoms, but it’s not for a physical reason.

It’s for a psychological reason, but whatever symptoms they’re experiencing again are real. And this is what most of the doctors who treated Maya believed that she was suffering from. The specific aftereffects of medical child abuse on victims and survivors haven’t really been studied, but I noticed so many parallels with this idea of conversion disorder when I was talking to Joe about what they experience.

You at this point are years out from that initial revelation and you are still trying to make sense of Your health and what is real. Yeah, I just a few months ago found out that I never had asthma. Um, and that still is a hard thing to be working through. I still have asthmatic like symptoms that come up and that I have to kind of find new ways to work through and deal with.

But there’s a lot of different things. I mean, just [00:28:00] yesterday I learned that something that I like thought was like going on with my body that I had thought was just like a normal thing is actually probably related to this like vocal cord dysfunction that was caused by my mother’s abuse. And so it’s like all these back and forths of still.

Trying to learn some things that aren’t real and that were just abuse. Some things that I thought were normal and are actually parts of different struggles and chronic illnesses now that I do have. And trying to figure out like where the, where they all come from. Jo’s asthma diagnosis wasn’t real, but their experience of it was.

Yeah, it was severe asthma. I couldn’t run without ending up in the emergency room. I was on steroids and nebulizers and things like that to try to manage. And so now sort of [00:29:00] looking back, knowing that that underlying diagnosis was not actually real, I mean, how do you look back on those incidents where you were having a quote asthma attack or where you were having an incident and you were brought into the ER and and I imagine that that is really sort of a complicated thing to look back on some of those memories.

What do you kind of make of what was maybe going on with you? that convinced you at the time that you were having really these symptoms because you were not quote faking symptoms you were having it but it’s sort of more psychologically complex than that. It’s interesting like looking back at it.

Because, I mean, the doctors, you know, I had a whole chart of these are the things to do when you’re in this zone or when you’re in this zone. Like I had an asthma plan that the school had and things that I was supposed to follow. So when I look back, I think it was just [00:30:00] anxiety. I think I was having like panic attacks or anxiety attacks.

And, that combined with vocal cord dysfunction, uh, a lot of times vocal cord dysfunction can be misinterpreted as asthma, and there are, like, some differences, like, for instance, my issue has always been breathing in, and I guess with asthma, oftentimes it’s breathing out, that’s the problem, which I didn’t know until very recently, and the vocal cord dysfunction That can be caused by things like acid reflux, which was caused by the induced vomiting that was going on in infancy.

So it makes sense where it would have all come from and where even doctors would have been confused by some of those symptoms. And for Joe, it was extremely confusing to hear doctors tell them that their symptoms weren’t real, and it would sometimes even make them desperate to get those doctors attention.

When I would go to the doctor, to the ER specifically, they would [00:31:00] often put in my notes or tell my mom that I wasn’t having an asthma attack and that it was anxiety. And then she, of course, would make a really big deal out of it and would tell me about it. And then I would think, oh my gosh, they don’t believe me, but I couldn’t breathe.

Like I clearly wasn’t okay. And so then people constantly trying to tell me that I was like, faking asthma when I really couldn’t breathe and was really having struggles. I would sometimes fake symptoms in a way, like I would have more anxiety and I would end up having more breathing struggles because I wanted people to just be able to help me because I didn’t know what was going on.

It’s clear from the testimony at the Kowalski trial of numerous professionals that Beata did not like having her chosen diagnosis questioned, and Joe experienced this with their mother as well. In those instances where doctors and medical professionals were pushing [00:32:00] back on your mom, do you remember what her reactions were?

And sort of what the story she told you about those interactions, like what, what was the kind of narrative around those doctors pushing back? So I remember like very vividly I was in And we had run the half mile and I had what I thought was an asthma attack and I went to the nurse and I remember like the nurse bringing in the guidance counselor and like the vice principal and the principal and I was laying in a bed breathing through a paper bag and they were all just standing around me and they called my mom.

Instead of an ambulance, uh, which at the time, of course, I didn’t really understand. I thought I was dying. I thought they were standing around me as I was like taking my last breath. My mom finally got there, and I remember when I got in the car, I was able to breathe. I [00:33:00] suddenly was not having Breathing issues at all.

And I tried to tell my mom and my mom was like, no, you’re gonna die. We have to bring you to the ER. You can’t breathe. You’re gonna die. Um, she brought me to the ER. That’s when they were like, no, this isn’t an asthma attack. This is just anxiety and hyperventilating and my mom just like yelled at them and told them like how dare you like to say these things and eventually they did give me a shot to help with the supposed asthma attack and I calmed down and we were able to go home and then my mom, I remember just going off about how like I could have died and how dare they say I didn’t have asthma when I clearly like was having an asthma attack and just all these things and I remember Later on, like, I would go to school and I would tell everyone, like, this doctor that I had when I was in elementary school, like, he tried to say, I don’t have asthma, but like, I clearly do.

I can’t even run. [00:34:00] And I just, yeah, I really bought into the story and believed that that’s what was going on. You know, the language that Maya uses in her depositions and in her testimony to describe the doctors was pretty dramatic. You know, she uses words like captors to describe them and it just

basically says that she didn’t like any of them, that she was miserable every moment she was in the hospital, etc.

And I think this too is likely a reflection of how Beata was talking about the doctors. She basically felt like they had kidnapped her child. And this reminded Joe of their own mother. She would really go after any doctor that tried to say that I wasn’t experiencing whatever ailment or illness she wanted me to have at that time.

And I imagine for you, that made you pretty wary of doctors and medical professionals. I, yeah, I never really trusted doctors. It was kind of this weird thing [00:35:00] though, where on one hand I was terrified of hospitals and hated doctors. I guess I wasn’t so afraid of hospitals, but I didn’t trust doctors cause I didn’t think that they ever listened to what I was saying or what was going on.

And I felt like I always had to prove that I was sick, but then at the same time. There was like a comfort with being in the hospital and having that attention and care and safety. There’s a clip from one of Maya’s earlier depositions that also was played in the Netflix film about how she feels about the medical system.

Why is it that you refuse to go to doctors or hospitals? I feel like it’s pretty self explanatory. The last time I was in a hospital, I was medically abducted for three months. I just can’t go to doctors. I hate going to doctors. I hate going to hospitals. This was positioned as being evidence of Johns Hopkins [00:36:00] mistreatment of her.

And certainly, you know, obviously like Maya’s memories of her time at Johns Hopkins. are not good, I’m sure, especially in light of the fact that her mom died while she was there.

So, throughout the trial, we learned some really interesting things about Beata and Maya’s dynamic. Here is Nurse Bonnie Rice, who treated Maya while she spent a month at Tampa General Hospital, talking about that. And this is from Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case. Yes, so the pattern became clear over time that her mother would come in and there would just be this sort of a deterioration of the whole environment.

I mean, going in there was awkward. It was… It was confrontational, um, you know, it was, as soon as her mother was men, very little therapeutic activity would occur. And even though I had read about this particular conversation, it

was completely different to hear the person who’d been on the other end of it describe it in court.

This is nurse Kelly [00:37:00] Thatcher and she was working in the PICU at the time of Maya’s admission. So this is right in the beginning of her Johns Hopkins All Children’s stay. This is a piece of her testimony from the Law and Crime Network. We had stepped aside and I don’t recall who was with me, um, but Mrs.

Kowalski was very upset at the, in her opinion, lack of medication that was being administered. Um, and she did state out that, um, we may as well consult hospice. And that way she can have enough medication and let her die because she doesn’t deserve to live this way. Was that a concerning statement to you as a PICU nurse?

Oh, very concerning. Very concerning. Because we deal with death and dying all the time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. And I take it very serious. And these children who unfortunately pass away in our care, we have gone through everything for these children. And they have fought a hard battle.

Pediatric Hospice is an incredible service. and they take care of children in their last moments [00:38:00] of life. Um, and Maya was not a terminal patient and hospice is for terminally ill patients. So, I was very chilled when she said this because there was nothing in Maya’s care that made me think she was at risk of dying.

Dr. Mary Sanders was also really alarmed by this piece of the story and she gave us some additional context. It is concerning, uh, certainly we, we know from some other cases where parents are bringing this up that it is definitely a red flag, uh, as far as some of the cases in which the children did not survive and the parent had been talking about mortality prior and that basically the child did not survive because they were, um, killed by their parent.

Uh, and so we do know those cases have happened. And so that’s, you know, certainly concerning. As far as the effect of talking about mortality in front of the child, again, I [00:39:00] would think this would be very frightening for the child that, you know, I’m, I may not live that basically sort of having this idea that I have a foreshortened life.

Just like, you know, that my life revolves around illness and that it’s just not going to last very long. And you know, many survivors I’ve spoken with really grew up believing that they were going to die young and Jo was no exception. It was like a very big message. I mean, I thought that I would die in my childhood.

You know, I did, got to do pageant when I was four because I was like the sick kid in town or things like that. And I, uh, Definitely never thought that I would survive. I’ve always been very afraid of dying and very afraid of death. So when mom would say that I had a concussion and that I had to stay home and that I couldn’t move or these things, cause I could die, I would listen.

Or when she said I couldn’t [00:40:00] sleep because I might die, I wouldn’t sleep or things like that. So I very much, I guess there was a lot of messaging that maybe I just have kind Pushed away a lot of that. I mean, even as an adult, I still I’m working through my fears of death. That’s always been like a very big thing, either me dying or my mom dying was always a really big thing too.

Interestingly, I noticed that the plaintiff more or less shied away from addressing these comments head on, as well as these attempts to label Maya as terminal. Because honestly, like, how do you explain a mother talking about a child who is allegedly a little over a year into a condition that’s not fatal?

going into hospice. I have to say on this one, like as a mom, I just don’t understand how people can bat this away or like say that it’s out of context. Like, what context could there possibly be that would explain it? Again, if there’s a plausible explanation, what [00:41:00] is it? And as to the question of whether or not CRPS can be fatal, There was a lot of back and forth on this, but the plaintiffs really clung onto this idea that it was in and of itself fatal all the way through closing arguments.

And Gregory Anderson referenced a friend of Beata’s who died of CRPS. Here he is in his closing argument. This clip is from Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case. And she knew enough to just listen to her daughter. And you heard the phone calls to know what was going on. And every time somebody saw her daughter, any of the neighbors that got in, any of the priest, anyone else who got in, she was pumping them for information.

She knew exactly what was going on here. And so as Maya started to get worse and worse and worse, the anxiety of Beata Went up and up and up until the, the, it came about finally that Beata [00:42:00] determined, unless something drastic was done, there’s a pretty good chance her daughter was going to die in this hospital.

Why? She’d already seen a friend’s daughter die.

So, the woman that he’s referring to here is Jessica Stevens. She was the daughter of one of the patients that Beata was taking care of in her work as an infusion nurse. And if you’ll remember, her father was the one who originally

told Beata about CRPS and also about Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Cantu, who Jessica also saw and Jessica also received the ketamine coma procedure.

Jessica did, tragically, pass away in December of 2018. She was only 30 years old, and she died from complications arising from sepsis. Importantly, though, this was after Beata’s death, so it would not have had any bearing on Beata’s decision making.[00:43:00]

So Maya is, I think understandably, defensive about the idea that her CRPS isn’t real. And given the fact that this whole case rests on whether she is continuing to suffer from CRPS, that makes sense. You know, one of the things that I think really got some people incensed were some of these pictures that came up during the trial.

Some of these were admitted into evidence in the beginning. They were photos from Maya’s People magazine photo shoot that she did, where she is looking, you know, extremely glamorous and healthy. There’s even one photo of her exercising. I mean, it obviously is the staged photo, but she is on like a piece of exercise equipment.

And, you know, there’s these pictures of her on the red carpet at the premiere of Take Care of Maya at the Tribeca Film Festival. So, those pictures we already knew about, but there were some additional photos that came out during the trial because… her [00:44:00] friends and I think her boyfriend had posted them on social media.

So, there was one in particular where Maya was going to homecoming and she looks gorgeous, she’s in a red dress, she’s in the back of a limo with her boyfriend and her friends. And this was during a time where her own lawyer, Gregory Anderson, said that Maya was too sick to come to court. So, obviously, I understand why people are struggling with those.

And so, the way that Maya has always explained this, and the way that she explained it, you know, when she was asked about these photos in court, is that her CRPS comes and goes, that she has a high tolerance for pain, so sometimes even if she looks like she’s fine, she’s really very miserable, and she was sitting on the stand at one point and described her pain as an 8 out of 10 and, you know, again, wasn’t showing any signs of pain.

So, I understand why, to people watching, this seems incredibly [00:45:00] dissonant, but I want people to remember there is every chance that Maya believes what she’s saying. And Joe, who has also been watching a lot of this, sees themselves in this. I would have responded in such similar ways to her.

Like, one, I didn’t realize that I was a victim of Munchausen by proxy until I was in my 20s.

But two, like, if any, whenever people came at me trying to say that I had faked anything, I would get so defensive because I still needed help. I was still hurting. I still did have struggles. I didn’t know, like, I wasn’t trying to manipulate anybody and I really did think I had those issues. I really felt for her and how she was responding because it, I, like I said, would have responded the exact same way.

And regardless of what, like, physical things are going on, psychosomatic things are going on, whatever it may be, there was like, so clear medical abuse that was happening. [00:46:00] That’s, I mean, right in the records and like, very evident by how she was responded since. that situation and all of that. So it’s just really, yeah, it’s really painful to see how much she still feels she has to prove how sick she is and was and how just like the wording she would use.

And one of them, she like talked about how, I’m not sure if this was the affidavit or the deposition, but she talked about how she, if she hadn’t received the ketamine, like she would have died within the month and that’s like so sad to me because once again there’s like a lot of evidence contrary to that statement and just that plus all of the comments of being held captive or her captors and how the wording that she uses like does not seem like wording that a child or a teenager would be using.

I mean, [00:47:00] reading it, it felt like very much like brainwashing or a lot of things being like told to her. And of course you take in those stories. I mean, like I said, I thought certain doctors were evil and bad and out to get me and just. People in general, I thought, were out to get me and trying to kill me my whole life, you know?

So it’s like, as a kid and as a teen, you believe what you’re told, and it becomes your reality. It becomes… the way that you see the world.

After watching the Netflix documentary, I have to say, I really felt some sympathy, genuinely, for Jack Kowalski. You know, regardless of what you think was going on with Beata, there’s no doubt that this man has experienced a lot of trauma. Even if Beata was an offender, losing your wife in that way would be horrific, having to get your children through the suicide of your partner.

I mean, this is all really difficult stuff. However, Watching him [00:48:00] throughout the course of this trial, and listening to his testimony, and really

wrapping my head around what this lawsuit has meant for his family, that has drained any ounce of sympathy that I might have had for him. Because as much as they’re trying to blame the hospital for all of this, Beata is the one who made the choice to end her life.

It was a very tragic choice. But it was her choice, and rather than letting his family heal and move on, Jack instead has dragged his two traumatized children through a hellish six year long legal battle that has consumed the entirety of their teen lives. And whatever you think his motivations for doing this are, whether you think it’s greed, revenge, or if you think he’s on drugs.

A righteous crusade against a corrupt system. It has most certainly come at the expense of his children. Neither of these kids, according to their testimony, has been in therapy [00:49:00] during this time period because they were worried about their records being subpoenaed. and used against them in the lawsuit.

So he has put them in this position where they can’t get the help that they surely need and they’ve spent the last six years reliving the worst moments of their lives over and over again on this like macabre PR tour that he’s put them on. You know, during the trial, a couple of times, Maya’s, quote, relapse of CRPS that happened in 2020 was brought up.

Now, again, after hearing all the evidence, I don’t think that Maya legitimately has CRPS because of the way that this diagnosis originated and all of the doctors that have testified that her symptoms do not seem like CRPS symptoms. However, she did have a really serious health episode in 2020 and it landed her in the hospital.

That was brought on by the stress of giving depositions for this lawsuit. And [00:50:00] then, there’s poor Kyle, who just seems like an afterthought in this whole thing, and is also, obviously, deeply traumatized by it. And I just, you know, as I was watching him sit there in the courtroom, During the opening statements, while they’re playing the 911 call where his mom’s body was discovered, and you can hear him screaming in the background, like how many times has this kid had to listen to that?

And Maya is hearing over and over again how sick she is. And this is the opposite of what she needs, even if her CRPS is legitimate. Dr. Mary Sanders explains. As far as the importance of, of having a positive story regarding health, you know, what we want to promote is that recovery and health are available.

And as we see, that [00:51:00] actually is the case with Maya. By focusing on, on what’s not working, what’s, um, what the limitations are rather than what she’s moving toward sort of allows, we want to allow as much growth and, um, function as possible. Uh, and certainly, you know, like, uh, you know, as we talked about with when there are children that do have chronic illness, how can we work with that and still help them work toward their valued life?

And according to Jo, Maya doesn’t really have many options here. None of it’s her fault and her doing in any way, shape, or form, and like, it just sucks that, like you said, she’s being put in the middle of it, and there’s, uh, there’s just so many, so many issues, so many issues with it. And obviously, like, my My mom, I didn’t get taken out of the home because of her, that menstrual myopraxy, I got taken out because of her alcoholism, [00:52:00] but even just like as I was an adult, I had to stay sick for a long time to meet financial needs, to meet basic housing needs, and things like that as I was homeless from age 16 to 18, like I had to be sick so that I could get help in different ways, and so it makes So much sense to me why like she would have to say like there is no other option for her given like everything that’s going on in her environment.

Now, it’s been quite a few years since I was 17, but this is a kind of a strange time in your life. You’re not a girl, not yet a woman, as the great poet Britney Spears once said. And I think some of this animus that’s being directed at Maya right now is kind of coming from the fact that she appears. At least when she’s not in court.

Pretty grown up and glamorous. But we have to remember that she is still a kid. And she hasn’t had any separation from the [00:53:00] influence of her family. Which I think is what she’s going to need to get a better perspective on all of this. And of course, she was way younger when all of this was actually happening.

And that was one of the most disturbing things to me about Dr. Wassner, her pediatrician’s affidavit. He, you know, sort of gave her this agency in her medical treatment that she in no way had as a nine year old and implied that really she’d have to be on board with these treatments that she was getting for Beata to be able to pursue this.

And I talked to Joe about this piece of things. I was that kid. I was that kid that seemed very mature, that was very mature, that was very independent. I mean, my sister is 12 years older than me, so I was always hanging out with her and her friends. You know, I was always with people way older than me and always was able to like, fit in.

And, Mask in whatever way. And at 15 years old, I had back surgery that I didn’t need. And I had rods and [00:54:00] screws put in my back. So I think that doesn’t really, um, make any sense. You can be mature and you can, but first of all, usually a lot of times that maturity or that independence can come directly because of abuse or because of neglect or because of what it is that you’re going through where you’re not able to.

Express your needs or get help or be dependent.

So among the most disturbing things that came to light during the trial was this batch of emails that Beata had written. These were drafts of blog posts for an account that she maintained chronicling Maya’s illness journey. And we spoke to Dr. Mary Sanders about this blog. As far as parents that have engaged in munchausen by proxy child abuse writing a blog about their children’s illness, uh, we do see that quite a bit.

At the same time, we also see parents of legitimately ill [00:55:00] children writing blogs. There is a recent study… That looked at some of the differences between parents that have engaged in Munchausen by proxy and parents of chronically ill children. And, um, there’s some differences in the blogs that, that what they found in, in general is that the parent who’s engaged in falsified illness of their child tends to talk more about the effect of the illness on them.

versus, you know, something that’s going on with the child. Also, those blogs tend to be more public rather than private, um, shared within the family, you know, to keep the family updated. We read from a couple of these in the last episode and to say that they focus on Maya’s illness is an understatement.

It is just a list of medications she’s on and symptoms she’s having, but then I guess I suppose it would be hard to describe much else when you’re blogging in the voice of someone who is comatose. Joe was also pretty struck by [00:56:00] these. It definitely felt like a really big red flag to me and very like, yeah, very concerning because I think that, that to me was where I was like, oh, okay, I’ve been saying like, you know, we’ll never know for sure.

if it was one child in the by proxy or like what exactly was going on, right? We’ll never have these answers. And when I’m like reading through and like looking at things, to me it’s like very evident that there was the medical child abuse. But when I saw the emails and the blog posts or the Facebook posts or things like that, that’s where My, like, red flags start going off for more of the Munchausen by proxy pathology and abuse in that way, just with all of that.

And, I mean, you know, thankfully, computers weren’t a big thing when I was really young, so my mom wasn’t, like, online in that way, really. But, I mean, some of the things it’s, [00:57:00] like, very similar, I feel like, to how my mom would have. So I related in that. way to that, but it, yeah, it was a very big red flag. That was something that definitely threw me through a loop and was kind of like, oh my gosh, like why, why didn’t they put this on the, on this movie about it?

Like, why wouldn’t they have showed any of like this sort of stuff? I think we know why, but yeah. So back to the question, if these bizarre blog drafts are not indicative of something being amiss in this mother daughter dynamic, then how do you explain them? Well, Jack offered an interesting theory. Here he is addressing these emails during the rebuttal portion of the trial.

This is from Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case. I’m from a family of eight children. My mom made a baby book for all of us. And in the baby books, it starts out, I got my first haircut, or I, [00:58:00] I did this, or I crawled on such and such date. When Beata and I got married, she seen my baby book and she thought that was an awesome idea.

Um, you know, we got a coin from the year we were born and all different things in there. But after seeing the emails that Beata was doing, um, that reminded me of why she’s probably doing that. Uh, she did baby books for the children too. Same way, I lost my first tooth on such and such date, things like that.

She’s talking for the child, and that’s how my mom did it as well. Okay.

Another element of this case that people frame really differently depending on their lens is Beata’s death. We discussed with Dr. Mary Sanders the risk of suicide in these cases. For a perpetrator to be able to acknowledge that they have engaged in this type of abuse [00:59:00] takes a lot of support and a lot of strength on their part.

Certainly, I would hope that in this particular case that the family had been offered treatment. Um, what I’m picking up from, from listening to the trial, it sounds like that had been offered and support for the parent. Certainly we’re always concerned about, you know, how are the parents doing with this?

You know, how, how can we help the whole family move forward? So I think it’s an important piece. And we now know more about the circumstances leading up to Beata’s death. For one thing, two of the providers who testified, Dr. Kirkpatrick, who originally put Maya on the ketamine treatments, and Dr.

Tepe Sanchez, who is from Johns Hopkins and saw Beata and Maya early in their stay there, both testified that Beata had expressed suicidal ideations to them.

And at least in Dr. Tepe Sanchez’s case, We know that Beata was offered some mental health [01:00:00] services, but that she declined and said she was doing okay now. We also know that the two suicide notes Beata wrote that she emailed to various parties the night of her death were actually drafted the Friday before, just after the court hearing.

It’s honestly just really heartbreaking because With this more filled in picture, it really seems like Beata had been struggling with suicidal ideation for a while. And certainly she was in the days leading up to her death, and for whatever reason, she didn’t seek help. The plaintiff, however, framed Beata’s suicide as acting on an irresistible impulse.

And this language is specific, if you’re talking about… someone’s death by suicide being caused by someone else’s actions, which is what they’re trying to do in this case. And they say that it was based on her maternal instinct, but it’s really hard to square that with all of the other information that’s come [01:01:00] out about this case.

Joe also found the specter of the mother’s suicide really familiar. So, I wonder what you think about this idea that is really being attached to this narrative that Beata died to save her daughter. Hmm. Hmm. A lot of thoughts. I think, my brain’s like, there’s so many thoughts. I, My, I mean my mom has, uh, tempted in front of me, uh, a decent amount of times.

And, uh, yeah, there’s always Well, there’s always two stories with my mom where it was always either like she was like really struggling, you know, because of Being a victim to different things or being sick or whatever or she was like struggling Supposedly because I was like a bad kid So there was always like one [01:02:00] or the other but either way there was always like a lot of things going on with that and I mean, I very much could see if the same thing, sort of thing happening with my case, if it had gotten to a point where I had actually been separated from her.

Well, I mean, I guess when I was separated from my mom because of the alcoholism, um, within a couple of months, my mom ended up in an induced coma in the ICU for three weeks because she… I mean, I still am working through that and not blaming myself for it because it very much felt like, Oh, this happened because I was removed from her.

This happened because she needed me. We were, you know, it was us two against the world and suddenly she didn’t have me. So if I had just stayed, then it would have been different. Yeah. So kind of similar in like that sort of a sense of, The [01:03:00] letter that was written and all of that sort of stuff, like, I could see my mom writing something very, very, very similar, and I think…

Sorry, here you’re talking about the suicide note from Beata and what she had to say to Maya? Yes. Yes, I, yeah, I mean there’s so many times in my life that with how enmeshed me and my mom were that it was like, like I said, simultaneously, it was the only reason my mom was alive is because I was with her.

And then simultaneously, the reason that she didn’t want to live was because I was bad. So there was like a mix. very mixed messages. And to this day, sometimes I’ll be like, Oh, maybe if I just lived with my mom, she would be okay enough. And like, I could take care of her and she would be able to like, live a different life than what she’s living.

So it’s like, I hear all of that. And I also, you know, have struggled with suicidality. I have been hospitalized for attempts and I’m [01:04:00] grateful that I survived and that I’m alive. And within that struggle with suicidality, what I know about suicidality, what I’ve seen from friends that have struggled with this or things that I’ve read or learned and all of that, there’s often it’s more attempts usually come in because of feeling trapped or feeling like there’s no way out or things like that, which I’m sure that she was feeling, um, with everything that was going on.

But to say that you’re doing this to save someone when you know that she was safe in a hospital. The bulk of the closing argument for the plaintiff’s side was delivered by the lead attorney for the Kowalskis, Gregory Anderson. However, his colleague Nick Whitney, who’s the more likable of the two, took over for a bit to go through some of the math that they used to calculate the suggested damages [01:05:00] that the Kowalskis are asking for.

And he teared up talking about how Beata made really this ultimate sacrifice to save her daughter. And you could see Maya in the background and she just had tears streaming down her face. And my heart just broke for her. What must it be like to be told over and over again that your mom killed herself for you?

And how easily, in a malleable teenage brain, Does that become that your mother died? Because of you. And honestly, this whole conversation around damages during the trial was so hard to listen to. As I sat there and watched the plaintiff’s witnesses and attorneys talk about how dire Maya’s future looked, in their view, all thanks to Johns Hopkins All Children’s, and I watched them

calculate all of her losses and put a very massive dollar amount on it, I just wanted [01:06:00] to crawl out of my skin.

So as I was sitting there watching them, I just thought these people are dismantling this girl’s identity and she’s so young she hasn’t even had a chance to figure out who she is and In this, they’re continuing what I believe is the abuse pattern that Beata started.

I saw some internet commenters, and, uh, yes, admittedly, I have been spending way too much time online reading about this case, you know, who really felt like the defense should have gone harder on pointing out all of the inconsistencies in Maya’s testimony. But I was really glad that they didn’t. And indeed, Ethan Shapiro, who gave the closing arguments for Johns Hopkins All Children’s, showed remarkable compassion to Maya and to her family.

So this is from Law and Crime Network’s coverage of the case. I’d like to thank the Kowalskis for [01:07:00] listening patiently and respectfully. I know that a lot of the things I’ve had to say have been tough for them to listen, but they’ve listened with grace and integrity.

So I’ve been especially wrinkled as I mentioned in an earlier episode by this idea that I don’t quote believe Maya or that I’m somehow not on her side. I am on her side and so is Joe. So if you could say something to Maya, what would you say to Maya? Getting emotional again but uh, can’t not have big feelings around it at all, I guess.

I think I would just want Maya to know like, I believe her. I believe that she was sick. I believe that different doctors made her uncomfortable and that she like, had to do what she had to do. And like, that she [01:08:00] was just in such a survival sort of place. Like I, I see the pain that she went through. I see all of the different pieces of that.

And I, I get it. I understand it. And, um, I am not accusing her of lying about anything at all. And I don’t, I don’t need her to prove herself. I think she’s survived and like, regardless of. Is it that she survived her family or is it that she survived the hospital or that she survived the whatever like whatever it is like she survived and like she’s gotten to this point and like I just want her to know she doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore and that she can just she can just have a different life she can still have a voice and heal and like all of that and she can also keep doing the different athletic things that [01:09:00] Seems that she really enjoys doing and she can keep doing school and keep having like all these different experiences That don’t have to do with any of the past.

Yeah, that’s beautiful and I I want the same for her and I think one of the most complicated questions for me and even Tackling this and honestly like, you know, the other seasons of the show we’ve done we’ve done with the families It happened to it’s so different to be sort of talking about a case from the outside like this And obviously doing it in such a way that obviously I don’t think Maya herself at this moment would appreciate very much.

Yeah. And I, I sort of thought like, well, you know, I don’t know if it would be better. I think for, for you, for a lot of the other survivors, that reckoning of understanding what happened to them has been really important. But part of that also is because their parent is still alive and they still have to deal with that person.

And they need to like understand that person for what they are, but. As Beata is not, [01:10:00] I sort of, and like, it’s not my place to say what’s best for her, obviously, but like, you know, I sort of wonder, like, maybe whatever story she needs to tell herself about what happened to be okay is fine, and she just needs to, like, go forward and have a life, but I really hope that the status of being a celebrity victim is not going to define her, because now she has been on the cover of People, she has been in this Netflix thing, and You know that this whole story and this whole narrative has just totally consumed her young life and like I would just like to go see her be normal and like, you know, not in the spotlight and not having to sort of play the role of the sad beautiful girl at the center of this horrific case, you know, like I just don’t think that is like a very healthy thing to impose on a kid.

So I think like I hope that whatever is best for her to tell herself about her life and what happened that you. She does that and goes forward [01:11:00] and hopefully has good relationships with her dad and her brother and those other people around her that clearly love her like watching her uncle testify. He clearly adores that girl.

I think being put in this position of saying that this abuse is real and somehow that’s we’re against Maya is really horrible because we’re not. We’re, we’re, we’re for her and we want the best for her and. Whatever she wants to sort of like do and is her own business, but I hope she just gets some distance from this.

On the next episode, we are going to dig in to the testimony of Kathy Beatty, the social worker who was with Maya at the hospital.

We’re also going to talk to an incredible expert, Dr. Jessica Price, about some of the bigger problems systemically with our child protection [01:12:00] systems and how we can possibly make them better.

That’s next time on Nobody Should Believe Me.

Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of Larj Media. Our senior producer is Tina Nole and our editor is Corine Kuehlthau.

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Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 05Nobody Would Believe Me (Part 2)As we learn from Detective Mike Weber, the father in a Munchausen by Proxy case can be the most important ally--or the biggest obstacle--in protecting child victims from abuse. In part...

The Blast Zone
Season 01 | Episode 6

The Blast Zone

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 06The Blast ZoneAs Andrea contemplates what the future looks like for survivors of Munchausen by Proxy, she gets an unexpected message from two young women who’ve lived it. After appearing with Marc Feldman on a podcast,...

Can They Be Saved?
Season 01 | Episode 07

Can They Be Saved?

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 07Can They Be Saved?Andrea delves deep into her questions around the psychopathology of Munchausen by Proxy perpetrators. Floored by the similarities in the many cases she’s researched: she talks to two of the world's...

There’s Hope
Season 01 | Episode 08

There’s Hope

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 08There's HopeAndrea has made an intense connection with Hope Ybarra's family, and asked experts, doctors, and the detective so many of her burning questions about Munchausen by Proxy. But she's become increasingly...

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Season 02 | Episode 01

Blunt Force Instrument

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 01Blunt Force InstrumentMeet Andrea Dunlop, accomplished novelist and mother, as she embarks on a journey to understand the series of events that tore her family apart. In the first episode, we learn how Andrea first...

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Season 02 | Episode 02

What Do We Do About Brittany?

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 02What Do We Do About Brittany?Heather Harris was one of many friends who was concerned about Brittany’s desperate need for attention for her daughter’s medical issues, and her inconsistent reports about Alyssa’s eating...

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Season 02 | Episode 03

Where There’s Smoke

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 03Where There's SmokeDetective Mike Weber dives into the digital rabbit hole of Brittany’s online activity and makes a discovery so shocking it turns his investigation on its head and reveals the depths of depravity...

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Season 02 | Episode 04

All In

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 04All InIn this season of Nobody Should Believe Me, we've heard from Sheriff Bill and Laura Waybourn about their concern for Alyssa- who was a distant family member of theirs. Now, we take some time to get to know this...

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Season 02 | Episode 05


Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 05TangledWe hear more about Alyssa’s turbulent journey to become a Waybourn, as the family fights through a system that doesn’t know how to deal with medical child abuse. The Waybourns face the daunting task of...

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Season 02 | Episode 06

The Trial

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 06The TrialYears after being separated from her daughter Alyssa, the Brittany Phillips case finally heads to trial. Dawn Ferguson, the prosecutor on the case elucidates the challenges of convincing a jury that a mother...

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Season 02 | Episode 07


Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 07MeganIn the wake of obtaining shocking public records about her sister’s case, host Andrea Dunlop decides to divulge the details of the second investigation into her sister, Megan Carter. Seated alongside Detective...

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Season 02 | Episode 08

Only the Beginning

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 08Only the BeginningIn the aftermath of Brittany Philips' conviction, Alyssa faces a daunting new reality: the path to recovery. The long-term physical and psychological effects of Munchausen by Proxy abuse cast a long...

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Season 02 | Episode 09

Pandora’s Box

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 09Pandora's boxIn this gripping episode, we delve into the heart-wrenching account of Jordyn Hope, another survivor of medical child abuse. Taking a brief departure from Alyssa's story, we shine a spotlight on a far more...

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Season 02 | Episode 10

Everything Everything Everything

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 10Everything Everything EverythingIn the finale of Season 2, we finally hear from the person at the center of our story: Alyssa Waybourn. Despite the immense challenges she has faced, Alyssa shines as a beacon of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 01

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 01Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release) Warning: This content includes references to suicide and child abuse. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, help is available. Call or text...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 02


Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 02Shelter As the Maya Kowalski case heads to trial, we dig into the massive trove of documents about this case and begin to unpack what we know about what really happened during Maya Kowalski’s fateful stay at Johns...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 03

In a Heartbeat

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 03In a HeartbeatIn our third episode, we look at a central piece of the story that was left unfinished at the time of Beata Kowalski’s death: the police investigation into her for medical child abuse. Along with...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 04


Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 04RetaliationNote: This episode contains sensitive content related to child abuse and suicide. Listener discretion is advised. Beata Kowalski’s tragic death by suicide in January of 2016 is at the center of the $220...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 05

The Women

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 05The WomenIn the flattened version of the Maya Kowalski story that has dominated the headlines, Beata Kowalski is a mother who fell prey to age-old biases against women. This story attaches itself to the well-documented...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 06

The Believers Part 1

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 06The Believers Part 1In today’s episode, Andrea seeks an outside perspective on the controversial Maya Kowalski case. Laura Richards, host of Crime Analyst and cohost of the Real Crime Profile podcast, joins Andrea to...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 07

The Believers Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 07The Believers Part 2As the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial barrels forward, new information comes to light each day about what really happened to Maya Kowalski during her time in the hospital. In part 2 of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 08

Trial of the Century

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 08Trial of the CenturyWith a verdict in the case days away, host Andrea Dunlop unpacks some of what’s happened so far in the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach....

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 09

The Verdict

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 09The VerdictAndrea and special guest Bex (aka our Florida pediatrcian friend) process the shocking verdict in the Maya Kowalski trial. After 9 weeks of testimony, the jury awarded the Kowalski family nearly $300 million...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 10

The Verdict Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 10The Verdict Part 2Andrea checks in with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach hours after the Kowalski verdict comes down. They talk about the judge’s decision to disallow testimony from the defense on medical...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 12

System Override

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 12System OverrideWith the jury's stunning $242 million verdict in favor of the Kowalski family, host Andrea Dunlop looks at why this case has struck such a nerve on both sides of the political spectrum. She examines why...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 13

What Now?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 13What Now?Just when we thought the endless saga of Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens was turns out it might only be beginning. In this episode, lead attorney for the Johns Hopkins All Childrens defense...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 14

Media Circus

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 14Media CircusThis week Andrea examines how the harrowing and complex story of the Maya Kowalski case turned into a pop culture moment, and spread dangerous misinformation in the process. We continue our conversation...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 15

The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 15The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)In an exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, host Andrea Dunlop travels to Florida to speak to the embattled child abuse pediatrician about her life and work and...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 16

Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 16Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)In the second part of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, we discuss how the media coverage of her reached a fever pitch and turned her life and career upside down. We explore...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 17

Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 17Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)In the third and final installment of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, she shares her side of what happened in the Maya Kowalski case, revealing how perilous Maya’s...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)

What Jack Knew

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 18What Jack KnewAs we prepare to launch Season Four next month, we’re revisiting the subject of Season Three—the landmark Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s verdict, in which a jury awarded Jack Kowalski more than...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 19

What Happened to Beata?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 19What Happened to Beata?This week's episode delves into the intricate details surrounding Beata Kowalski's death, which was central to the Kowalski's lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's, as well as the...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 20

Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 20 Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro Join Andrea as she delves back into the ongoing legal battle of Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, with Ethen Shapiro, the lead defense attorney for Johns...

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