Both the defense and prosecution had appealed a split decision handed down by the trial Judge Donald Oda II, just days before the trial was scheduled to begin this past spring.
Oda ruled that doctor-patient privilege did not apply to anything Richardson said about burying the infant’s remains. However, Oda ruled that another conversation Richardson had with a different doctor was privileged.
Richardson's defense team argued that all of the teen's conversations with her doctors about her pregnancy or what may have happened afterward were covered under doctor-patient privilege.
Warren County prosecutors, however, said a conversation Richardson had with one of her doctors — that she buried the remains in the backyard, which prompted the physician to call police — is not privileged because of a doctor’s duty to report abuse, neglect or other harm to a child.
The appeals decision came late Monday evening, about five weeks after oral arguments were heard at the appellate court located in Middletown.
“Physician-patient privilege was waived due to application of … a statute that places a duty on persons with special relationships to minors to report suspected or known abuse or neglect, where there is reasonable cause to suspect based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in similar circumstances to suspect, that a child suffered a physical wound,” a summary of the decision states.
Richardson’s defense attorney Charlie H. Rittgers told the Journal-News that “in all likelihood we will appeal it (to the Ohio Supreme Court).”
“We are disappointed with the decision (of the appeals court),” he said.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the decision means Richardson’s statements and reactions will be heard by jury at trial.