Special Kay

Dr. Kay Rauth-Farley is compassionate, tough and skilled, qualities that have placed her on the front lines of Arizona's war against child abuse for a decade

Rauth-Farley took a job there as a pediatrician with CIGNA. Mark Farley landed on his feet, later becoming the head golf professional at a posh country club.

Rauth-Farley toiled for CIGNA until 1989, when, bored with her job, she applied and was hired at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.

For the third time, Mark Farley followed his wife to a new town, a new job. He picked up work at Moon Valley Country Club and eventually became head pro. Their children were still in grammar school.

In 1989, child-abuse investigation and treatment in the Valley was prehistoric. Child sex-abuse victims usually had to wait weeks for their physical exams. The state of Arizona--which still is behind the national curve in funding children's services--was even more deficient.

At St. Joseph's in those days, Tascha Boychuk would interview abused children in a small room that passed for a "clinic." Four doctors on the hospital's pediatric staff rotated there for a few mornings each week.

Rauth-Farley became one of that quartet soon after arriving at St. Joe's. Within weeks, she resolved to do more.

"She was the one who had the clarity of vision of what the clinic could be," Boychuk recalls, "and she asked to be put full-time on it. St. Joseph's had the foresight to accommodate her, and to get behind a full-blown clinic, the one that they have now.

In 1991, then-governor Rose Mofford led the dignitaries at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened St. Joseph's Child Abuse Assessment Center, at 124 West Thomas Road.

Now, seven years and a few thousand exams later, Rauth-Farley is about to leave her "baby," as she calls it, in other hands.

When a Child Is Born, the Angels Sing
--a sign tacked to Kay Rauth-Farley's office wall

It's 7 a.m. on a June weekday, and Kay Rauth-Farley is alone in her second-floor office at her clinic.

She considers the hour or so before things heat up at her shop to be her own, and it's about the only time she'll lock her door behind her.

"It's a time to catch up with reading, writing, some thinking," the doctor says.

Her office is small, with the requisite computer, scientific journals and piles of paperwork. What makes it unusual are the dozen or so Post-it notes above her desk.

On each, she's written the name of a child who died at the hands of an adult--"Brenae Rettig--9.5.95 to 3.7.96"--Strangulation and skull fracture."

Some of those responsible for the crimes have been tried and convicted; others haven't.

Rauth-Farley talks about each victim, pausing when she reaches the note with the name of 6-year-old Amber Bass.

The west Phoenix child's horrific death haunts her.
Amber was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Joseph's Hospital on Valentine's Day 1994. She'd suffered severe injuries to her vagina and rectum, and had bled profusely. Called to the ER to examine Amber, Rauth-Farley determined Amber's injuries had occurred in the last day of her life.

But the county medical examiner ruled the girl had died of "natural" causes because of a congenital heart condition.

Rauth-Farley is certain Amber died because someone raped her. And if the sexual assault did lead to the child's death, it would be a "felony murder"--the equivalent of first-degree, premeditated homicide.

But no one has been arrested in the case, and its resolution seems doubtful. One reason, common in child-abuse cases, is that several adults had access to Amber during the hours before she died--and none have implicated themselves or others.

"Amber," Rauth-Farley says, in a momentary trance at the indelible memory of the ravaged child on a gurney at the ER. "Amber."

She snaps out of it. Rauth-Farley's do-everything assistant, Diane Medina, isn't in yet, so the doctor herself answers the phone.

"Child Abuse Center, this is Dr. Farley. Yes, I'm one of the doctors here . . ."

An FBI agent calls from Flagstaff for advice about a child pornography case.
A St. Joe's doctor wants to know if he has to talk with defense attorneys about a new case. "I don't have to, do I?" he asks her.

"No, you don't, not right now, but I'd recommend that you do," Rauth-Farley replies. "That way, you'll get a feeling about what they're after, where they're going, what they're like. It's kind of a head start."

She's scheduled to submit to her own interview with a defense attorney in an odd case involving a west Phoenix boy whose genitals were burned by a hair dryer--allegedly wielded by his mother's boyfriend.

The police theory: An 18-month-old boy urinates on the floor of the couple's Glendale home. His mother offers to clean it up, but the boyfriend says he'll take care of things. Mom returns to the kitchen, then hears a hair dryer going in the bathroom. The door is locked and the child is crying. The boyfriend says he's drying his hair, that the baby is fine. After a while, the hair dryer stops.

The boyfriend later offers to change the child's diaper. But Mom sees nasty blistering on her son's right thigh, scrotum and foreskin of the penis. But the boyfriend doesn't want her to take the baby to a doctor.

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