The 15-year-old boy was not her son, but an Indiana school superintendent who learned the student had missed class on January 9 due to an illness was determined to get him the medical treatment he needed.
She was later arrested and charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor.
Forty-eight-year-old Casey Smitherman of Elwood, Indiana, said she instinctively went into parent-mode when she discovered the student was sick.
“After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat,” Smitherman said in a statement cited by local and national news outlets. “As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.”
Smitherman claimed the student was her son in order to get him checked into St. Vincent Immediate Care in Elwood. She later took the student to a CVS pharmacy to pick up a prescription for antibiotics, which had been distrubuted in her son’s name.
“I knew he did not have insurance,” Smitherman said of the teen student. “I wanted to do all I could to help him get well. I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.”
The insurance claim for the student’s treatment reportedly amounted to $233.
Smitherman, who had previously purchased clothes for the student and cleaned his house, claimed she was worried “that he would be placed in a foster home,” according to an affidavit cited by The Herald Bulletin.
After the student disclosed to other people what Smitherman did for him, the superintendent surrendered to police. She has been charged with insurance fraud, insurance-application fraud, identity deception, and official misconduct as a public employee. Smitherman said she regrets what she did.
“I would love to go back to that moment and re-do it,” Smitherman said in an interview with WRTV. “But in that moment, I just was really worried.”
Officials from Smitherman’s school district had a similar reaction.
“She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare. We know she understands what she did was wrong, but she continues to have our support,” Elwood school board president Brent Kane said in a statement, according to WXIN-TV.
Country prosecutor Rodney Cummings admitted Smitherman was “probably a woman with a big heart that saw a young man in need,” but said it was imperative that she answer for her alleged crimes, The Washington Post reported.
“What kind of message is that to send to the students you’re in charge of,” Cummings told The Post. “The police asked the charges to be filed. There is a violation of the law. Had I ignored that, I’d be criticized by people who’d claim that some people are above the law.”