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Jailed mom 'devastated' to learn son was vaccinated

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/11/2017 John Wisely
Rebecca Bredow, 40, of Ferndale, served five days in jail for refusing a judge's order to vaccinate her 9-year-old son. © John Wisely/Detroit Free Press Rebecca Bredow, 40, of Ferndale, served five days in jail for refusing a judge's order to vaccinate her 9-year-old son.

DETROIT — A 9-year-old boy at the center of a vaccine dispute between his divorced parents received four immunizations this week, according to court testimony Wednesday.

The boy's mother, Rebecca Bredow, 40, of Ferndale, opposed the shots and served five days in jail for refusing a judge's order to get them. The boy's father, James Horne, wanted his son vaccinated and had them administered on Monday, when he had custody of the child. 

Through his attorney, Benton Richardson, Horne declined comment after the court hearing.

Bredow fought back tears as she discussed her jail stint and the rulings today. 

"It was the worst five days of my life, except for the fact that I just found out that he was vaccinated and I'm not going to get him back today," Bredow said. "It's been a rough few days to say the least."

Bredow and Horne separated before the boy was born in 2008, and since then, Bredow has had physical custody. Horne has taken his son on alternate weekends.

On Wednesday, Oakland County Circuit Judge Karen McDonald also approved a recommendation from a court referee to have the parents split physical custody 50-50. McDonald gave Bredow's attorney, Steven Vitale, 21 days to object to the change, which Vitale said he will do.

"She's devastated," Vitale said.

Late week, McDonald took the unusual step of finding Bredow in contempt of court for refusing an earlier order to vaccinate her son. McDonald had made her intentions clear at a hearing the week before.

"You have seven days to get your child vaccinated," McDonald told Bredow Sept. 27. "If not, you will appear here Wednesday and if you have not, I'll send you to jail. Let me say it one more time, you have seven days. It's ridiculous. Don't make me do that."

Bredow said she couldn't bring herself to have the child immunized. McDonald said Bredow had consented to the shots in court pleadings in November 2016. Her refusal to do so amounted to contempt of court, McDonald ruled.

Vitale said that those pleadings, filed by a previous attorney, were made in error and Bredow never intended to consent to vaccinations. Bredow, citing religious objections to vaccinations, has avoided giving them to the boy since he was born. 

Vitale said that Horne never questioned Bredow's decisions to not vaccinate the boy until recently.

The case is the second one this week in McDonald's court where divorced parents disagree on whether or not to vaccinate their child. 

In a separate case, Lori Matheson and her ex-husband, Michael Schmitt, are arguing in front of McDonald on whether or not to vaccinate their 2-year-old daughter. Matheson testified on Tuesday that she objects to vaccines on both religious and medical grounds.

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