This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.
From Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, adoptive parents Pastor Mark Allen Hooper of Cobb Street Baptist Church, 42, and his wife Susan Aileen Hooper, 40, have been charged with endangering the welfare of children, a third degree felony, in the starvation of their 9-year-old adopted daughter.
The girl and her siblings were adopted by the Hoopers in 2007. The allegations of starvation are from “May 1, 2011, and Feb. 11, 2013, when the girl ran away.”
“The Hoopers allegedly withheld food from the girl, resulting in medical problems.”
“Kane-based state police Trooper Mary Gausman said the incident was brought to her attention by the McKean County Children’s Advocacy Center. When she and Children and Youth officials spoke to the child, she said Mark and Susan Hooper withheld food from her.
The girl weighed about 31 pounds.
At that point, a temporary order was granted placing the girl in the custody of CYS. The next day, a forensic interview was conducted with the girl. She spoke about her family history and daily routine.
She and her siblings were adopted by the Hoopers in 2007. They all are homeschooled by Susan Hooper and the girl said she’s not allowed to eat until she gets her math right. The girl said she also has to ask Susan Hooper to use the bathroom, and the request is denied.
The affidavit of probable cause says, “JH then wets herself” and “I get spanked and don’t get fed all day or breakfast the next day. That happened “lots of times,” the girl said. The affidavit continues, “She ran away because she ‘was tired of not getting dinner because of my math,” and is “afraid of mom.”
Following the interview, the girl was seen at Bradford Regional Medical Center and a follow-up exam was ordered with a pediatrician because of the girl’s small stature. She was seen by a pediatrician Feb. 13 and told a nurse she had never been to a doctor or had immunizations.
A physical exam showed the girl is shorter than an average 9-year-old and an abdominal ultrasound revealed an enlarged liver. She was referred to UPMC Children’s Hospital and a bone age study was also ordered.
The girl was seen at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic Feb. 21. The report from the doctor said her height and weight are significantly below the one-third percentile for her age, adding that she is as tall as a 5-year-old. She has an enlarged liver and tests showed her liver function is very elevated. She has lanugo (baby) hair, a swollen face and severe growth retardation.
The bone study revealed the girl’s bone age to be “5 years 9 months, which is very delayed for her chronological age of 9 years 3 months.” Lab work showed growth hormone deficiency is likely not the cause of her short stature. The doctor’s report concluded, “these lab results, along with JH’s significantly delayed bone age and her physical exam findings, are indicative of malnutrition.” Bail for Mark and Susan Hooper was set at $25,000, straight, and was posted Tuesday [March 19, 2013]. They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing before Engman at 1 p.m. April 8.”
[The Courier Express 3/20/13 by Katie Weidenboerner]
“[Mark Hooper] is pastor at Cobb Street Baptist Church in Johnsonburg, “an independent, fundamental Baptist church with a burden both to reach Johnsonburg and the surrounding towns as well as the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.””
[The Bradford Era 3/15/13]
You can see the church’s former website by Googling www.proverbs1130.com/Pastor/Pastor.html. The entire website is down but a picture of both of them is available in the cached version as of the time of this posting.
REFORM Puzzle Pieces
Update/September 24, 2013
No other articles were found. A search of Pennsylvania court records for Mark and Susan shows that they waived arraignment.On July 8, they filed writs of habeus corpus. That was denied in August. A trial date of January 6, 2014 was set for both. The trial is expected to last one week.
Update 2: “Mark and Susan Hooper, a Mount Jewett couple convicted of endangering their three adopted children, were sentenced to jail Tuesday morning in McKean County Court.
Senior Judge John Cleland sentenced Susan Hooper, 41, to nine to 18 months in McKean County Jail and 24 months of probation. Mark Hooper, 43, pastor of Cobb Street Baptist Church in Johnsonburg, will serve three to six months in the jail and 24 months of probation. Both have credit for two days of time served.
Their jail sentences are to commence at 9 a.m. Monday.
The couple will also pay restitution to McKean County Children and Youth Services (CYS) for $57,113.96 and receive mental health evaluations. They are to have no contact with their adopted children except as authorized by the judge who is hearing their dependency cases. Mark Hooper has also been granted work release during his incarceration.
The Hoopers pleaded no contest in December to allegations that between May 1, 2011, and Feb. 13, 2013, both punished their three adopted children by withholding food, which caused medical problems, including psychosocial dwarfism and enlargement of their livers.
The children were 9, 10 and 11 when the Hoopers were charged. Court records indicated the couple’s actions were brought to the attention of authorities when their adopted 9-year-old daughter ran away to a neighbor’s house. She weighed 31 pounds at the time.
This description, however, only tells part of what is a much more complicated story, according to Judge Cleland.
The Hoopers took in the children when they were about 3, 4 and 5 years old, and even by that time the youths had already experienced “family trauma” which gave them special needs, Judge Cleland.
“You took on a hard problem,” he stated to the Hoopers. “You made things worse.”
Judge Cleland said his sentence considers the impact of the defendants’ acts on the victims, which he indicated may have long-term psychological consequences.
Excluding court officials and attorneys, about 20 residents attended Monday’s sentencing. Also, Judge Cleland indicated he received letters from many members of the community asking him to consider their statements when he sentenced the Hoopers. None of them spoke at the sentencing hearing.
The Hoopers were also silent during the hearing, both opting not to make statements on their own behalf to Judge Cleland prior to sentencing. This was a change of heart for Susan Hooper, whose lawyer indicated on her plea date that she wanted to explain at her sentencing how and why the acts occurred.
McKean County District Attorney Ray Learn asked that the pair serve prison time due to the physical, emotional and psychological damage to the three children.
“They have a long road to recovery,” Mr. Learn said, noting it’s “questionable” whether they will ever recover emotionally or psychologically.
Susan Hooper’s attorney, Alexander Lindsay Jr. of Butler, said the reason she entered a plea “was to avoid any confrontation with these children.” He said Susan Hooper “loved these children” and “felt is was God’s will she should do this.”
Mr. Lindsay explained the adopted three children were already suffering psychological issues when they came to the Hoopers’ home as young children.
“She wasn’t equipped to deal with (the issues),” Mr. Lindsay said. “She loved these children. She really did. She did the best for these children with the tools she has been given. It wasn’t enough.”
Mark Hooper’s attorney, Joseph Charlton of Sarver, asked that his client be given a probationary sentence, explaining that his client has no criminal record and has custody of his 15-year-old son. He added that Mark Hooper entered a plea in the case rather than going to trial so the children would not have to testify.
The children did testify at a preliminary hearing April 24, 2013.
The couple entered no-contest pleas to reduced charges Dec. 30. Susan Hooper pleaded to three counts of endangering the welfare of children, first-degree misdemeanors; Mark Hooper pleaded to one count of endangering the welfare of children, a first-degree misdemeanor.”
McKean County couple sentenced to county jail for withholding food from kids[Olean Times Herald 4/9/14 by Ruth Bogdan]