This story contains sensitive material about childbirth and death.
A young Georgia couple who sued an OBGYN last month in the alleged decapitation death of their baby has filed a second lawsuit against another doctor who was tasked with performing the infant’s autopsy.
The parents, Jessica Ross, 20, and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., 21, experienced tragedy in July when their first baby died in childbirth, as previously reported by USA TODAY. A month later, they filed a lawsuit accusing their physician of decapitating the baby by use of excessive force during delivery.
The family now says they were revictimized thanks to images posted online of the autopsy, attorney Roderick Edmond said in a press conference on Tuesday. The family is filing a lawsuit against the pathologist who they say shared these graphic images of their deceased infant’s body on his Instagram page.
Family sues doctor for death of baby:Family sues Georgia doctor after baby was decapitated during delivery, lawsuit alleges
What the lawsuit claims
The couple originally filed a lawsuit in the death of baby Isaiha in August, accusing Dr. Tracey St. Julian and Southern Regional Medical Center of medical malpractice, gross negligence, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress for failing to seek help promptly when the infant showed signs of distress during delivery.
According to Edmond, the attending doctor refused the laboring mother a C-section and then applied “ridiculously excessive force” on the baby’s head and neck when it became stuck. When an emergency C-section did occur, according to Edmond, the baby’s legs and body were removed but the head, which had been separated, was delivered vaginally.
As part of the investigation into the child’s death, the family says they paid independent pathologist Dr. Jackson Gates $2,500, to perform an independent autopsy.
It was only days later, reports local station WSB-TV Channel 2, that family members saw pictures of the newborn’s decapitated head posted on Instagram.
Dr. Gates, who later took to his Instagram page to defend himself, is accused of taking now-deleted photos and videos of the child’s full face and organs while performing said autopsy and posting them for what he said were “educational purposes.”
“I want you to hear this clearly, I will never divulge the identity or disclose the identity of any live patients or any deceased patients that come for my care,” Gates said in a video shared on the platform.
Edmond addressed this defense directly during Tuesday’s press conference, saying, “What educational value is it to anybody to view a picture of a decapitated baby?” and called the actions “diabolical.”
“[The parents] were manipulated by the hospital and now they’re manipulated again,” he said.
Both lawsuits are still pending and an ongoing, multi-agency investigation into the death has been launched.
The initial allegations
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According to the initial lawsuit, baby Isaiha became stuck at one point during a 10-hour labor on July 9. The couple, according to Edmond, asked for a C-section earlier, at a time when they believed the child could have lived, but were denied.
The family alleges that Dr. St. Julian applied “ridiculously excessive force” on the baby’s head and neck to try to deliver it. When a C-section was finally performed, said Edmond, a fetal monitor showed the baby’s heartbeat had stopped.
This was when the baby’s torso and legs were delivered surgically while the head was delivered vaginally, alleges the suit. The hospital is accused of then wrapping the baby tightly in a blanket and “propping the baby’s head on top of the blanket to make it appear like the head was attached when it wasn’t,” Edmond previously told reporters at an August press conference.
Southern Regional Medical Center Spokesperson Kimberly Golden-Benner previously told USA TODAY the hospital could not comment on pending litigation but “denies the allegations” against it.
A statement provided by the hospital said that St. Julian “is not and never has been an employee of the hospital, and the hospital has taken appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation,” but declined to elaborate on those steps.
“Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to every single patient, and this loss is heartbreaking,” the statement said.
Natalie Neysa Alund contribute to this report.