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Woman Honored as Foster Mother Guilty of Abuse

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Eight years ago, foster mother Yvonne Eldridge was honored at the White House for her dedication to her children. On Tuesday she faced up to seven years in prison for abusing them.

Eldridge, 44, cried when a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury delivered the verdict Monday after two days of deliberations.

She was convicted of abusing two sickly babies, worsening their conditions by cutting intravenous lines and reporting nonexistent symptoms that caused doctors to order painful and intrusive tests.

“She seriously abused both of these children,” said prosecutor Joyce Blair. “She has to take responsibility for that.”

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Outside court, prosecutors said Eldridge suffers from “Munchausen syndrome by proxy,” in which a parent secretly causes harm to a child to get attention from medical authorities.

The conviction comes as the climax of a long battle by state authorities to prosecute Eldridge for abusing foster children. In 1993, an administrative law judge agreed to strip Eldridge of her foster care license after the state presented testimony that she repeatedly induced sickness in children, including three infants who died in her care.

The attorney general’s office took over the criminal prosecution after Contra Costa County Dist. Atty. Gary Yancey decided in 1992 not to prosecute Eldridge, saying there was not enough evidence, especially in the cases of the three babies who died.

In 1988, Eldridge had been honored in Washington by First Lady Nancy Reagan under the Great American Families program because she cared for dozens of foster children, many with drug and medical problems, and some with AIDS.

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