Two rooms in Olga and Boris Shved’s Pasco, Washington, home remain decorated for their son and daughter, but there hasn’t been a pitter-patter of little feet for years — eight to be exact.
In 2006, Olga Shved was accused of child abuse, something she served two years of a 10 year prison sentence for, and her husband was accused of not reporting the crime, an allegation against him that was later dismissed. Fast forward to Feb. 21, 2014, when a conviction of child abuse against Olga Shved was reversed due to insufficient evidence.
But the family is still waiting — and battling the legal system — to have their parental rights restored.
“I wouldn’t wish this to my worst enemy,” Boris Shved told the Tri-Cities Herald. “They’re just kids, they haven’t done anything.”
According to an in-depth report by the newspaper, Olga Shved called the paramedics in June 2006 when her infant daughter, Ella, appeared to choke and stopped breathing when Shved was feeding her water with an eye dropper. At the hospital, doctors found what the newspaper described as textbook signs of abuse: scratches, broken bones and bleeding on the brain.
The breaks, doctors said according to the Tri-Cities Herald, “would have required more force than that required to break an uncooked chicken bone.” Olga Shved said the 4-month-old slipped while she was bathing her.
The mother was also asked why she used makeup on a bruise on Ella’s face. She said it was medicated and didn’t know at the time there was a non-coverup option available, the newspaper reported.
After an investigation, the state stepped in and took custody of Ella and her 2 1/2-year-old brother, Ryslan, placing them in a foster home instead of with relatives who lived in the Tri-Cities area.
The Shveds were served charges in May 2007. Though Boris Shved’s misdemeanor charge was dismissed not long afterward, his wife’s case went to trial in 2009 where she was convicted by a jury and sentenced to a decade in prison.
The couple stuck together while Olga served just two years and three days of her sentence, the Tri-Cities Herald reported.
The Washington Court of Appeals changed Olga’s conviction because improper instructions to the jury. After this, the same case was returned to court with a judge deciding this time that Ella’s injuries could have been due to epileptic seizures, bone disease and her vacuum-assisted delivery.
Throughout all the court dealings Olga Shved refused to agree to plead guilt to any deals that could have come with a lesser sentence, because she maintains she was not abusing her daughter.
“She declined their offer to settle with no jail and no deportation because she wants her children back,” one of Olga’s lawyers, Jim Egan, said of the mother originally from Russia. “That kind of convinced me she might not of been guilty of this thing.”
That said, the state appears to have different thoughts on returning the couple’s children, despite the conviction being overturned.
According to the Tri-Cities Herald, state prosecutors and social workers still maintain that the parents were abusive:
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Hartze has argued that just because Olga was acquitted of assault doesn’t mean she is innocent.
At the time, the judge ruled the children were abused or neglected, that Ella had injuries caused by “nonaccidental trauma” at a time when her parents had exclusive control of her and that anger management issues were involved, Hartze said.
He contends the criminal case is irrelevant to the child dependency matter, where it is the court’s role to step in and safeguard the kids.
“In essence, what the mother is asking is that we rearrange our system. … Whatever happened in the criminal case is going to rule, and we’re going to go back and unscrew whatever may or may not have been done,” Hartze said.
The newspaper reported that Hartze believes the children would benefit from “finality and balance,” wanting them to be adopted.
The couple’s other attorney, Linda Lillevik, called situation overall a “tragedy.”
“On the other part of this tragedy is those foster parents,” she said. “They love Olga’s children, and I’m sure her children love the foster parents. At this point it’s just a tragedy all the way around.”
The children are now 8 and 10 years old and live in another state.
Read more about the family’s case and situation in the Tri-Cities Herald.
Front page image via Shutterstock.