Chicago-area hospital’s role in baby-cutting case questioned

CHICAGO (AP) — A local sheriff’s office wants to know if a suburban Chicago hospital violated state law by not immediately reporting that a woman who claimed to be the mother of a newborn had not given birth. The woman was later charged with strangling the baby’s mother and cutting the newborn from her womb.

The Cook County Sheriff”s Office said Monday that it will ask the state’s child welfare agency to determine if a suburban Chicago hospital acted properly in the case.

Cara Smith, chief policy officer at the sheriff’s office, said if the state’s Department of Family Services determines that Advocate Christ Medical Center violated the Abuse and Neglected Children Reporting Act, there would be an investigation.

Smith’s comments come just days after Clarisa Figueroa and her daughter, Desiree Figueroa, were charged with first-degree murder for allegedly strangling 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez and cutting her unborn baby out of her last month before Clarisa Figueroa called 911 to report that the baby she had just given birth to was not breathing.

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The Chicago Police Department and the state agency said over the weekend that the hospital never alerted them after determining in late April that the bloodied Clarisa Figueroa was not the mother. Police said they did not learn until May 7 of the connection between Figueroa and the Ochoa-Lopez when one of the teen’s friends told detectives about communications between the two on Facebook.

The hospital issued a statement Monday saying that it was cooperating with local authorites but would have no comment.

Prosecutors contend that when Figueroa was brought with the baby to the hospital, she had blood on her upper body and face, which a hospital cleaned off and that the 46-year-old Figueroa was examined at the hospital and showed no physical signs of childbirth.

The question for the state agency, Smith said, is if the hospital would have been legally required to alert police or the agency about the woman claiming to be the mother of a gravely ill child.

“We will ask DCFS to advise if this unspeakable tragic set of facts was reportable,” she said in a statement.

It was first reported over the weekend that the hospital did not immediately report what had happened on April 23 , the day Figueroa and the baby came to the hospital.

The baby remains hospitalized in grave condition on life support and is not expected to survive.

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This version of the story corrects that Cara Smith is chief policy officer at the sheriff’s office, not the child welfare agency.

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