JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — The University of Florida’s College of Medicine hired Dr. Barbara Knox, a child abuse expert with a troubling history of allegations – ranging from bullying colleagues to falsely assessing child abuse and pressuring colleagues to make determinations of abuse without sufficient evidence.
Knox is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics. As a member of the Child Protection Team, she will be helping to make determinations of child abuse in her new role, while earning over $200,000, the Orlando Sentinel reported in July.
The new post is Knox’s third in as many years, following leadership positions as a child-abuse expert at Providence Alaska Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin’s Child Protection Program, both of which were stained by controversy.
In November 2021, Wisconsin Innocence Project, a legal clinic affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Law School that has helped secure the release of over 30 wrongfully-convicted persons, tweeted: “Barbara Knox left a legacy of flawed shaken baby diagnoses in Wisconsin. She fled to Alaska in the midst of investigations that she harassed and pressured colleagues to do the same.”
CHILD ABUSE ASSESMENTS REJECTED
In January, Anchorage Daily News and Wisconsin Watch worked together to uncover over a dozen cases in which “Knox’s assessments of child abuse were later rejected by medical specialists, child welfare authorities, law enforcement or the courts.”
Knox resigned just days after the story was published, which highlighted a military family in Alaska who lost custody of their two children for nearly a year after Knox reportedly misdiagnosed their child’s injuries as abuse. The article adds, “Other defendants, proclaiming innocence, remain in prison and have appealed their cases.”
In one case, a hospital forensic pathologist testified that Knox and other colleagues pressured him to conclude that a child’s death was the result of parental abuse, according to Wisconsin Watch.
In November 2021, the collaborating media outlets reported that the entire medical staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center’s child abuse forensic clinic quit or saw their positions eliminated during Knox’s tenure. The concerns related to the “mass exodus” reportedly focused on Knox’s leadership.
In 2019, while at the University of Wisconsin, Knox was placed on leave while the school investigated concerns related to “unprofessional acts that may constitute retaliation against and/or intimidation of internal and external colleagues.” Wisconsin Watch obtained a copy of the letter via public records request.
CONFERENCE ON HOMESCHOOL “LEGAL REFORM”
Knox was slated to speak at a Harvard summit in June 2020 focused on “problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment” in homeschooling, including “proposals for legal reform.” Suggested reading for the conference included a 2019 book that called homeschooling a “controversial practice.”
The conference was reportedly canceled after conservative backlash, however the official event page says it has been postponed.
Knox did not respond to The Florida Standard’s request for an interview, and the University of Florida did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Knox previously testified she had never made a mistaken diagnosis of child abuse, according to Wisconsin Watch.
UF spokesperson Steve Orlando, shared a statement with Orlando Sentinel that said: “Dr. Knox’s long history and expertise in the field is well-documented, and includes many examples of positive feedback from her colleagues in the medical profession and others.”