April 16, 2014


Nurse relinquishes guardianship of Amish girl

A court-appointed guardian filed Friday to give up her power to make medical decisions for an Amish girl with cancer whose parents may have fled the area to avoid chemotherapy.

Maria Schimer tendered her resignation as “limited guardian” of 11-year-old Sarah Hershberger, of Homer Township, in Medina County Probate Court, attorney Clair Dickinson said.

“We don’t know where the little girl is,” said Dickinson, an attorney for Schimer. “We’ve kind of inferred that we’re not going to see her again, so it doesn’t make sense for this to continue.”

He said her family is saying she’s cancer-free as the result of natural treatments, including vitamins and herbs.

“If she is, that’s great,” Dickinson said.

“On the other hand, the undisputed medical testimony was that she would die in six months to a year without treatment.

“If she’s not cancer-free, it may be too late for chemotherapy to help her.”

The girl has not had chemotherapy that officials are aware of since June, Dickinson said.

Schimer, an attorney and nurse affiliated with Akron Children’s Hospital, fought for guardianship through a months-long battle in Medina County Probate Court, 9th District Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.

Dickinson said Schimer’s resignation isn’t final until Probate Judge Kevin W. Dunn accepts it. Once Dunn does, Dickinson said he plans to file a brief with the Ohio Supreme Court to say the case is moot.

“Maria’s purpose and the hospital’s purpose was to do anything we could to assist this little girl,” Dickinson said, “and we wish her well.”

Medina attorney John Oberholtzer, who represents the family, and Akron Children’s Hospital could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

The case began in April, when the girl was admitted to Akron Children’s Hospital with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.

Her parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, initially accepted chemotherapy treatments for their daughter, according to court records, but stopped them once they saw the side effects they had on the girl. They instead began natural treatments.

Schimer and Akron Children’s Hospital responded by filing a suit in probate court that asked the judge to appoint Schimer as limited guardian.

The case bounced between county and appellate courts several times before Oct. 9, when Dunn obeyed an order from the 9th District Court of Appeals to grant the guardianship. The Hershbergers responded last month by asking the Ohio Supreme Court to take jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the county Sheriff’s Office and Job and Family Services have been unable to locate the family. They’ve been missing from their Homer Township farm since at least October.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

  • Sandra Bilek

    What this article left out was that the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law got involved in this case. Judge Lohn, original judge on this case ruled correctly. When this case got to the Sixth Circuit, my opinion, Sixth Circuit did not uphold the Ohio Constitution or US Constitution. This country is going down a slippery slope, folks. Citizens need to wake up. When local communities and ELECTED LEADERS DO NOT uphold their zoning resolutions, like the situation in Medina Township presently, and when Courts and judges violate the Ohio Constitution, their are no winners, only losers. I am pleased that this guardianship situation has been dropped. It was a win for Democracy Friday and a win for principles this country was founded on.

  • Marie Nauth

    I am so pleased that the constitution was upheld and the girls parents were granted guardianship of little Sarah. I think the court here in Medina overstepped it bounds by mandating that the girl have a legal guardian and continue chemotherapy against her and her parents wishes. Thank you 1851 Center for Constitutional Law for getting involved. I too, am in a situation where the same court appointed a legal guardian for my husband. I am wondering if there are laws in the constitution which protect my right to be my husbands guardian. This too is very wrong and a violation of my right to care for my husband of 27 years.

  • susie

    LOL–that slipperry slope has been AROUND FOR GENERATIONS-
    commony known as GUARDIANSHIP applied for and obtained in the probate kangaroo no due process courts.
    this nurse saw HER OPPORTUNITY to make a few extra bucks deciding that THIS GIRL WHO HAD INVOLVED PARENTS needed a guardian so she waltzed into the probate coUrt ,made application,INTERFERED WITH THAT FAMILY BUT GOT HER WARD.
    google probate victims and see how LUCKY THIS FAMILY WAS that their daughter wasn;t secreted away and the family FORBIDDEN CONTACT etc like they did with that girl in boston-
    don’t worry,our elected officials ARE WELL AWARE OF ALL THE ABUSES GOING ON due to these court appointees and LWET IT CONTINUE NONSTOP.

    WHEN enough law abiding,INNOCENT people SUE,it will END.

  • Sandra Bilek

    Susie, agree, personally, I think this family would be well advised to stay secreted away; (permanently); especially more than likely something in the environment there where they lived that might have been causing the leukemia; i.e. water well contamination. Agree with you in all you said.

  • Red_White_and_True

    I think it is terrible that this child will probably die. With treatment, she has a better chance. I disagree that this is a big hurrah for the Constitution. We recognize loco parentis with many things less serious than the life and death of a child, such as education and dress codes. I for one think a chance at staying alive for as long as possible and maybe even an ultimate cure one day is in the best interest of this child.

  • Red_White_and_True

    But if you weren’t acting in your husband’s best interest, you would be removed as guardian. Guardians are appointed every day throughout the country. No parent wants to see their child sick but sometimes when you’re too close to the situation, you don’t make the right call. This young girl is not only a daughter, she’s a sister. If my sibling was going to die sooner without treatment, I would be begging my parents to consent to treatment. I just think even parents should not have the right to make the choice without complete information about the pros and cons. 85% of a chance of beating her cancer is just too high to not give treatment a chance.