ARLINGTON — Surfing the Internet, Aaron Adams still finds incriminating evidence — a mugshot from a 2008 arrest.
"And it shouldn't be there," he says insistently. "Court-ordered, it should not be there."
The photo was taken after his arrest as a suspect in a child abuse case. Adams was accused after his girlfriend's then six-month-old baby allegedly rolled off a bed.
"I thought, 'This is going to be a bump on the head,' but nothing near this outlandish," he said.
The little girl went limp and an ambulance was called. At Children's Medical Center in Dallas, an X-ray revealed a brain hemorrhage from a skull fracture. Doctors diagnosed "shaken baby syndrome."
They immediately pointed the finger of blame at Adams, even though his girlfriend and his father were at home and heard nothing at the time of the alleged incident.
"I did not do it," Adams said. "My bedroom was open when all this went down."
Adams is one of a growing number of North Texans, and others nationwide, accused of child abuse when the only evidence is unexplained fractures.
In the last two years, News 8 has profiled North Texans Andrew Huber; Rana and Chad Tyson; Darlyn Harrell; and Adam Bonham. The Hubers and Tysons were eventually cleared.
Darlyn Harrell is still hoping. Her boyfriend, Adam, who was also accused, died suddenly of a medical condition and never saw his son Jacobi again.
"I've reviewed 120-130 cases of these unexplained fractures in children and know, that is my opinion, that these families did not hurt their children," said Dr. Charles Hyman, "And there are medical explanations."
Hyman has been a pediatrician for more than 40 years. He was once head of a hospital child abuse unit, leaving when he refused to testify in cases where he says factual evidence outweighed theory.
He now speaks out and testifies on behalf of parents who he considers to be wrongly accused of abuse.
"There's a metabolic process going on," Hyman said. "Probably 98, 95 percent of these children fracture in the first six, seven months of life."
What, then, can cause these unexplained fractures in small children? "Prematurity, rickets, multiple pregnancies, smoking exposure, exposure in utero to diabetes, and multiple other factors can affect the bone quality framework, which affects bone strength," the doctor said.
Hyman said one of the most common medical explanations for unexplained fractures in infants is vitamin D deficiency. A pregnant mother — who is already deficient — can easily pass along the deficiency to her infant, causing them to have brittle bones. Sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and sunscreen use have all contributed to an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in adults.
Hyman is angry that most medical experts don't recognize, test for, and won't even consider the passed-on condition known as infantile rickets.
"Then the default diagnosis becomes child abuse," he said. "This is totally erroneous."
That incorrect diagnosis plays a critical role for Child Protective Services.
"Child Protective Services employees are social workers, not doctors," said CPS spokesperson Marissa Gonzales, "So if information is needed about a child's physical condition or medical condition, they're not going to try to make that determination themselves. We trust their expert medical opinion."
That, Gonzales explained, is why CPS will take custody of children even when there is no other indication of abuse.
In light of our reports, Gonzales told us this: "It sounds like there needs to be more awareness; not just here, but everywhere in general."
Dr. Hyman agrees. He's calling for more awareness from doctors, hospitals, courts and other authorities. He wants radiologists to be better trained in diagnosing the difference between a bone break caused by abuse, as opposed to a medical reason. He also wants the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Radiology to weigh in and study the issue.
It's also why Aaron Adams — who was accused at the age of 25 and eventually spent a year in jail before being cleared — is coming forward to say "enough."
"Nobody gets held accountable when you're wrongfully accused," he said. "Those people get to go back home at night. What about us?"
Adams is now trying to recapture lost time with his three daughters, with whom there is no history of abuse.
"I'll never get those birthdays back," he said, choking back tears. "I'll never get Christmases back. I'll never get anything like that back, and all I can do now is try to rebuild."
Adams is now expecting another child. And he's working to clear the Internet trail of false accusations that left his life and his family fractured.