Texas mom accused of medical child abuse arrested again during family court hearing

A mother accused of faking her child’s medical issues and causing unnecessary treatments, a condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, was arrested during a recent family court hearing in Rusk County.

Jessica Gasser was previously arrested July 13 on suspicion of serious bodily injury to a child. The allegations stem from a hypoglycemia test Cook Children’s Medical Center staff in Fort Worth performed in February at Gasser’s insistence, according to an arrest warrant affidavit out of Tarrant County.

The test involved Gasser’s toddler having her blood drawn 28 times over the course of a day. The affidavit alleges the blood draws are considered bodily injury to a child because the test was unneeded and Gasser knew it.

From 2021 to 2023, the affidavit says, the child has seen 12 medical providers, been on over a dozen medications, undergone repeated tests for nonexistent ailments and stayed in multiple hospitals — and none of it was necessary. Experts refer to such allegations of manipulation of the medical system as medical child abuse.

According to local news outlet The Henderson News, Gasser, who lives in Rusk County, appeared in Judge Chad Dean’s family court on Aug. 30 in a custodial hearing about the child Gasser is accused of abusing. At the end of the hearing, detectives with the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office presented Gasser’s attorneys with two new arrest warrants and took Gasser into custody.

The warrants include two additional charges against Gasser: third-degree felony exploitation of a child and first-degree felony injury to a child, according to court documents.

The Tarrant County affidavit laid out a timeline of alleged medical abuse beginning in January 2021, when Gasser took her child to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. She took the child to multiple hospitals across numerous states for treatments that, according to the affidavit, were unnecessary.

In total, three doctors reported Gasser to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for suspected medical child abuse: Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple, and Woman and Child Health Center in Longview. Two others, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, consulted with their respective child abuse teams about Gasser for suspected medical abuse.

Throughout the hospital visits and treatments, Gasser posted to thousands of people on social media about her child’s ailments and health issues. According to the Tarrant County affidavit, she posted on TikTok — where she had more than 20,000 followers — about her daughter having disorders that doctors had already ruled out. She started a GoFundMe for her child’s medical expenses. In October 2022, Gasser applied for and received a free flight to a Cleveland, Ohio, hospital through Miracle Flight, a company that provides free airfare to medically complicated children, authorities said.

That same month, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services began investigating Gasser for medical child abuse. The case was eventually closed.

In June, DFPS removed the child from Gasser’s care. The child was admitted to the hospital and was able to wean off all medications, except for Megace, a medication used to increase hunger. According to doctors’ testimony in the affidavit, the child had been on Megace for long enough that her adrenal glands no longer functioned, and if it was discontinued or given improperly, the child could die.

After the child was released from the hospital, according to the affidavit, the child gained weight and was more active and “giggly.” One of the child’s primary care doctors said in the affidavit she was struck by how different the child was. She said if the child really had the disorders Gasser claimed she did, she wouldn’t expect the child to suddenly improve so much.