An Irritating Woman

Susan Diamond learned that it doesn't pay to annoy your kids' psychiatrists, even if you're a doctor

The third bizarre event occurred on July 20, 2003.

On a weekend visit with Diamond, Daniel, now 11, got angry at his brother, went out to the patio and set some leaves on fire. That evening, Diamond took her son to Timberlawn, where he was diagnosed as suicidal and admitted for treatment.

At 2:45 a.m. on July 21, 2003, Diamond faxed San Soucie, saying that Daniel had been admitted to the hospital. San Soucie was furious--and suspicious when he learned what happened. Daniel had started the fire in the afternoon. Diamond had waited to drive him to the hospital until the end of the Sabbath that Saturday. Earlier that week, worried that Daniel's condition was deteriorating, Diamond had talked to a rabbi and a friend about accompanying her to the hospital if necessary. To San Soucie, that proved she planned it.

A court-appointed psychiatrist believed that Dr. Susan Diamond was perpetrating a bizarre and controversial kind of deception called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
Mark Graham
A court-appointed psychiatrist believed that Dr. Susan Diamond was perpetrating a bizarre and controversial kind of deception called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
"House manager" Michael Lamberti contended that Diamond encouraged her son to act up. Lamberti is now in prison on an unrelated fraud charge.
"House manager" Michael Lamberti contended that Diamond encouraged her son to act up. Lamberti is now in prison on an unrelated fraud charge.

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But psychiatrists at Timberlawn agreed that Daniel was depressed and psychotic. "I just want to hurt people...I think about cutting an X on my body and then sticking the knife in it or walking in front of a car," Daniel told Dr. Kishore Sunkara. He reported hearing voices saying "remember, time to kill" and "kill 'the loved ones.'"

Denying that his son had any of those symptoms, San Soucie, with Blotcky's help, tried to get Daniel out of the hospital. Blotcky had seen Daniel earlier in the week; the boy looked better than he'd seen him in years. He called the hospital and told a social worker that Daniel didn't need inpatient care and that "you better be nice to [Daniel's] father or he will sue you."

Sunkara refused to release the boy, saying he was still suicidal. After talking to Blotcky and both parents, Sunkara wrote: "All these 3 are so entangled in the legal battle over Daniel's custody and decision making issues they lost their objectivity. I am unable to treat Daniel the best possible way with medications due to these legal wranglings." Sunkara released Daniel on July 24 after determining he was no longer suicidal.

He would later testify that he "absolutely agreed" with Diamond's decision to take Daniel to Timberlawn. Blotcky alleged Diamond had brainwashed her son into believing he was suicidal. The judge ordered that Diamond could have only supervised visits with Daniel.

Several months after that crisis, Stephen wrote a letter to Judge Frances Harris, saying that he and his siblings wanted to live with their mother.

"She pays more attention to us and is almost always a better parent," Stephen wrote. He urged the judge not to listen to Pat Keane. "From my own personal experiences and from the way she has dealt with us, the children, I believe that she will misrepresent us as our attorney ad litem."

The parental conflict was taking a terrible toll on Stephen, now 14. He was becoming more angry and depressed. A month later, he left a note on his dad's desk saying, "I'm tired of waiting for Pat Keane to do the opposite of what I want," and disappeared for a few hours.

Stephen e-mailed Mayor Laura Miller's daughter, whom he knew at Akiba, asking for help. At Miller's suggestion, he wrote her a "gut-wrenching" letter saying he wanted to live with his mother. "His whole thing was nobody will listen to me," says Miller, who as a child experienced a terrible divorce. Miller met with Stephen. "He said, 'I've got an ad litem attorney who doesn't talk to me,'" Miller says. Feeling compelled to help, Miller called the judge and Keane to pose a hypothetical question regarding the situation.

"The ad litem said, 'I don't need to talk to the kids; I listen to the doctors,'" Miller says. "I asked, 'Is she burning him with cigarettes? Beating him? Starving him?' On what basis do you take a child from his mother? I think the family courts are messed up, and the last thing they think about is the welfare of the child."

Her "ex parte" communication created a ruckus, with the judge calling Miller's conduct "sinister" and "malicious."

Diamond was accused of manipulating Stephen into writing the letter and contacting Miller. Several of her e-mails to Stephen seemed to support that. Or maybe the kid was just fed up, torn between two people he loved.

In an emergency hearing, psychologist Malcolm Bonnheim, Stephen's therapist, proposed that Diamond's visitation with all her children be supervised, as Keane insisted, to "tease out" whether she was the cause of his recent outbursts and anger. Blotcky took the stand and diagnosed Diamond as MSBP; now that she had little access to Daniel, she had shifted the proxy role to Stephen. If not stopped, she'd continue on down the line with each child.

In December 2003, the judge added Stephen to the supervised-visitation order. A few months later, the judge extended that to all five children, though there was no evidence of Diamond causing any harm to the other three kids. She got to see them three times a month at Hannah's House. Finally, the judge appointed Dr. Jaye Crowder, a forensic psychiatrist, to evaluate Diamond's mental condition and report back to the court.

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