In August 2009, Mindi, a 25-year-old struggling new parent, experienced what doctors later concluded was a psychotic episode. She had been staying in a cousin’s spare basement room in De Soto, Kan., while trying get on her feet after an unexpected pregnancy and an abusive relationship. She’d been depressed since her daughter was born and was becoming increasingly distrustful of her relatives.
Isolated, broke and scared, one Saturday morning, she cracked. She woke to change her 5-month-old daughter’s diaper. When Mindi looked down, she believed the baby’s genitals had been torn.
Mindi’s mind raced for an explanation. The one she came to? That her baby had been raped the night before; that someone—she did not know who—had put sedatives in the air vents.
Mindi called her pediatrician’s office. A receptionist told her to take her daughter to a children’s hospital in nearby in Kansas City, Mo. Doctors there found no evidence that the girl had been harmed or that any of what Mindi claimed had actually happened.