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Update on Christine Maggiore

There’s welcome news concerning Christine Maggiore, under investigation over a year by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for criminal negligence in the death of her young daughter Eliza Jane. (See “Townsend’s NY Observer,” Townsend Letter. June 2006; July 2006.) With Maggiore’s permission, I quote from an e-mail she sent me on September 16, 2006:

“On the year anniversary of the release of Eliza Jane’s autopsy report, as I was watering the bougainvillea plant immortalized in Elle magazine, Charles Ornstein of the LA Times phoned requesting an interview on today’s announcement from the District Attorney’s office about charges in the EJ case. My heart began to pound. “What announcement?” I asked, wondering if these would be my last words before squad cars rounded the corner, and I was handcuffed and hauled away with the hose still running. Instead, I learned from Ornstein (who always seems to know more about my life than I do) that the District Attorney closed the criminal investigation against me today with no charges filed. After all I’ve been through, I had only one thought in mind: Get a tape recorder.”

Maggiore’s mention of Elle refers to a story this women’s fashion magazine printed about her in its September issue. Written by a freelance journalist on assignment from Elle and titled “The Believer,” the story has a bucketful of the sort of fabrications and misrepresentations that apparently pass unchecked into mainstream media portrayals of HIV dissenters. It is, in Maggiore’s dismissive words (in an e-mail to me on August 26, 2006), “a mendacious and sensationalistic article that abstains from any intelligent examination of science fact.” (For additional information about the Elle story on Maggiore, see

There’s also news, rather disturbing, about Dr. Paul Fleiss, one of the pediatricians who treated Maggiore’s daughter for an ear infection that led to the little girl’s death. (She suffered a severe allergic reaction to a form of penicillin frequently prescribed for ear infections in children, and never recovered despite immediate hospitalization. Dr. Fleiss did not prescribe the antibiotic.)

Again, I’ll quote Maggiore’s e-mail to me on September 16, 2006, this time on Dr. Fleiss: “Dr. Paul Fleiss – our honest, brave, and kind-hearted pediatrician – has been charged with negligence by the state medical board for his handling of Eliza Jane’s non-existent pneumonia. Robin [Maggiore’s husband] and I are devastated to learn of this horrific new injustice and hope that those of you who know and love Dr. Fleiss will join us in supporting him and his courageous support of informed choice.”

According to a September 21, 2006 news report in the LA City Beat, the state medical board is charging Dr. Fleiss with negligence for not testing Maggiore’s daughter for HIV. (Maggiore has been HIV-positive and healthy for years. Her son, now nearly nine, has repeatedly tested negative, as has her husband.) My guess is that prosecution of Dr. Fleiss for negligence is meant to intimidate physicians (in California, at least) into testing all children for HIV when their mothers are HIV-positive or suspected of being positive.