Video: Schivo report shows no abuse

By Host, "The Abrams Report"
updated 4/19/2005 11:02:06 AM ET 2005-04-19T15:02:06

When Terri Schiavo died nearly two weeks after her feeding tube was removed, some protesters outside her Florida hospice called Terri's husband, Michael, a murderer for going ahead with what courts have confirmed was her wish— not to be kept alive in a vegetative state. There were plenty of accusations against Michael Schiavo before those final weeks. 

At least 89 reports that were investigated by Florida's Department of Children and Families between 2001 and 2004, and the results of those investigations were recently released. They show no signs that anyone abused Terri. 

George Felos is Michael Schiavo's attorney, I spoke with him about his reaction to the released information.  Below is a transcript of the interview, and a statement from the Schindlers.

GEORGE FELOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL SCHIAVO: Well Dan, of course, I've seen the documents before but could not comment on them.  These documents, were evidence and part of the very sad tale of how the Florida agency charged with protecting children and vulnerable adults was corrupted by political influence.  Floridians should be outraged and should demand an investigation to explain how this agency was so misled from its statutory purpose. 

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, "THE ABRAMS REPORT":  Let me read some of the supposed claims here and what they found. 

For example, it is suspected that Mr. Schiavo is shooting into Ms.  Schiavo, some form of insulin.  "On more than one occasion, Mr. Schiavo has been heard to say is the (blank) ever going to die?"  The husband supposedly said, "When will the (blank) die because I'll be rich" and "I can't wait until the (blank) is dead.  I want to buy a new sports car." 

And here's what they found: Medical records show no references to any blood sugar problems.  There's no supporting documentation that the husband ever made statements like this. Hospice staff say the spouse is always courteous and is rarely alone with the patient. So where were these coming from? 

FELOS:  We've heard all over again in the media, dredged up against Mr. Schiavo that have been brought up and adjudicated and resolved in his favor by the courts.  But Dan, let me just read to you something very important in these reports. 

DCF says there have been numerous court decisions in this matter up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that Teresa Schiavo is in a permanent, persistent, vegetative state and that the feeding tube could be discontinued. And they go on to say, the issues and fate of Teresa Schiavo is in the hands of the court, which has jurisdiction over this matter. 

Why, after 89 investigations and four years when DCF deferred to the court, all of a sudden, there was a turnaround in which the head of DCF said the courts don't matter. We don't have to listen to their decisions. 

ABRAMS:  Just so it’s clear—you're referring to the fact that at the very end of this, DCF comes in and says "we effectively want to take custody of Terri Schiavo."  That's what you're talking about. 

FELOS:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Let me read you another quotation:

"It is alleged that Terri had broken bones in her ankle and in her back that was never explained.  Terri's husband had training as a nurse. Five times after he was in her room, he had other staff members leave. Terri would get sick after he'd leave the room.  It is believed that Terri's husband did something to cause her sickness."

What they found, there were no signs of any medical problems or distress during the time that Ms. Schiavo had been a patient of hospice. The spouse has always been courteous and very compassionate towards his wife. 

Now look, are any lawsuits going to come of this in terms of the things that people have said about Michael Schiavo? 

FELOS:  Dan, I can't say what's going to happen in the future. Obviously, Mr. Schiavo has gone through a very traumatic event, the death of his wife, all of this litigation, I think he's just starting the healing process and there will be time to make decisions in the future. But Floridians and everyone in this country need answers.  We call on the Florida attorney general, Mr. Crist, to perform an independent investigation on how this state agency became corrupted. Floridians have a right to have faith in their organs of government and this corruption has to be gotten to the bottom of and I hope somebody will do that. 

ABRAMS:  Has he been in contact at all with the Schindlers?  We heard from one of his brothers who at one point said that they might be able to work out where Terri's body was ultimately going to be buried to the satisfaction of the parents. 

FELOS:  Well, there are no discussions about that to my knowledge that have gone on. And as we had mentioned before, no final determination as to Terri's final resting place has been made as of yet. 

ABRAMS: So there have been no contact between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo? 

FELOS:  Not that I'm aware of. 

ABRAMS:  How is Michael holding up these days? 

FELOS:  He's doing the best you can expect under very difficult circumstances. If anyone has experienced the death of a spouse or a close loved one, they know how difficult it is and he has better days and he has more difficult days but he's a very strong man. He's a very determined man and I'm sure he'll get through this. 

ABRAMS:  George Felos, thanks for coming back on the program. We appreciate it. 

FELOS:  You're welcome, Dan. Thank you. 

"The Abrams Report" asked Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, as well as their attorney, David Gibbs, to appear on the program. Below is the statement they received from Gibbs: 

"We are disappointed that DCF did not conduct more thorough investigations using outside independent experts in 2001 and 2003. If these outside experts had been called in to review Terri Schiavo like Dr. Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic did for DCF in 2005, she very well could be safe and alive today. Dr. Cheshire's opinion that Terri was not in a PVS and that she was communicating, recognizing people, feeling pain and projecting a distinct impression of life, could have saved her in 2001 or 2003. Tragically, Dr. Cheshire's opinion in 2005 was too late for DCF to effectively do its job of protecting Terri as a disabled, vulnerable adult from being starved to death."

'The Abrams Report' airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


Discussion comments