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Holiday travelers Santa is on his way and Frosty is driving, in a vintage GMC pickup in front of the home of Dawn Dana and Steve Ruddick on Mission Road near Cherokee Circle in Fairway. DAVID PULLIAM | THE KANSAS CITY STAR


CIVIL TRIAL | Religious group blamed for woman’s death after stillbirth

DETAILS OF DELIVERY EMERGE Suit says Misty Mansfield was in labor for days and received inadequate medical care. By KAREN DILLON The Kansas City Star



hristmas came early for the families of Rosedale Ridge. It arrived in the form of technology: free Internet access, thanks to the ingenuity of the nonprofit Connecting for Good. Rosedale Ridge is a low-income housing complex in Kansas City, Kan., tucked away in inconvenient ways. The residents are nearly two miles from a bus stop and five miles from a grocery store. Manage that without a reliable car. On Friday morning, the approximately 400 residents (more than half children under 12) gained broadband access. “If connectivity equals opportunity, somebody has to make sure that people have a chance,” said Michael Liimatta, president of Connecting for Good. The nonprofit bought bandwidth wholesale and rigged up Wi-Fi hotspots around the complex. Within the first 24 hours of service, 30 people had begun using it. In a two-hour introductory coffee session Friday, 20 people signed up for digital literacy classes and agreed to pay $50 to get a refurbished computer. One mother said she would use the access to earn her GED. She has an idea for a business but knows the equivalency degree is her first step. Others know it will make it easier to fill out job applications online. Waiting your turn at a computer at a public library was the option before. Internet access also has moneysaving features. Consider costly necessities like diapers for a single mother. Sometimes they are cheaper online, especially if transportation is problematic. If Liimatta has a mantra it is this: “Education is the number one thing that lifts people out of poverty.” His addendum to that truth is that in this era, education is linked to Internet savvy and online access. Rosedale Ridge is in the Kansas City, Kan., School District, which has made digital literacy a focus, providing high school students with laptops. The KC Urban Youth Center, which offers after-school programming for Rosedale Ridge, surveyed and found one child whose apartment had Internet access. One. When children leave school, district equipment becomes useless unless they can find a Wi-Fi hotspot. Now, that place is home. The plan is to work with housing authorities and other Section 8 property owners to expand the project on both sides of the state line. Connecting for Good is also opening an office at 1622 Westport Road, linking to the area’s status as the first to have Google’s high-speed fiber. They consider themselves a startup. Aiding people who are digitally marginalized is their motivation. And that makes for a fantastic business plan for 2013. To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to



Kingsville, Mo., woman’s parents want a jury to hold her partner and his religious group responsible for letting her die without medical help after unlicensed midwives allegedly cut her with dirty scissors to deliver a breech baby. The details of Misty Mansfield’s labor and then death 31 days later in 2007 are unfolding in a Jackson County civil trial that began last week and could go to the jury as early as

Wednesday. In the middle of the trial, one of the midwives, Wendi Nield of Blue Springs, agreed Thursday to settle the case for $300,000, but she denies liability, according to court records. Darrell and Gail Mansfield filed the wrongful-death lawsuit in 2009 on behalf of their daughter and grandchild Sydney Mansfield, who was stillborn after at least four days of labor. Defendants include Caleb Horner, a former Lee’s Summit police officer, who assisted in the botched delivery. The lawsuit says he and Mansfield had a religious wedding ceremony but weren’t legally married, and court documents use her maiden name.

Testimony and evidence in the wrongful-death case allege that Mansfield was caught up in a religious group that prohibits medical care, instead relying on God to heal. The Mansfields’ attorney, Daniel Thomas of the Humphrey, Farrington & McClain law firm, declined to comment while the trial is ongoing. The Mansfields are suing Caleb Horner and his brother John Horner, who are representing themselves at the trial. Other defendants are alleged midwife Amber Leathers of El Dorado Springs, Mo.; Carol Balizet, an author who promotes faith healing and home births; and three ministries in Texas and Colorado.

The lawsuit alleges that Nield and Leathers told Mansfield that it was common and normal for a delivery to last four or five days. It accuses the defendants of ignoring “clear physical signs” that her baby was breech and then cutting her vagina with dirty household scissors. Sydney was stillborn on Dec. 6, 2006. The defendants then failed to adequately help Mansfield or give her information that would let her make an informed decision about her health care, according to the lawsuit. The Horners also prevented family and friends from visiting her, the lawSEE TRIAL | A8



Cheerleading coach Ricky Schulte spurred on his team Spirit Elite, from St. Peters, Mo.., as they competed Sunday in the America’s Best National Cheerleading Championships at Municipal Auditorium. Go to for a photo gallery from the competition.

Half of a lifetime dedicated to volunteering for Harvesters Lawson 12-year-old joined his mother in the fight against hunger when he was just 6. By LAURA BAUER The Kansas City Star

On a day that 12-year-old Lucas Bain and his mom, Elaine, spent time outside a Sun Fresh grocery story volunteering for Harvesters, the sixth-grader didn’t hesitate to work the crowd. He’d walk up to people to ask for a donation. Tell people he was there helping the area’s food bank and hungry people, especially children. Nothing deterred him. Not even a man who walked up and offered him a $20 donation if he could tell the man what Harvesters was about and what it meant to him. “Oh, he spilled it all out,” said Elaine Bain, explaining how her son offered facts and figures he’d learned at Harvesters after six years of volunteering for the organization. “He knew how much money it took to feed 10 families. He had the whole spiel down.” In the end, the man handed Lucas the $20, saying, “Honestly, that was worth more than 20.” When Lucas was 6, his mom took

him to volunteer with her. Elaine has tried to teach all four of her sons the value of giving back. They’ve volunteered for various groups. With Lucas, her youngest, helping at Harvesters struck a chord. Especially after he watched a video about how thousands of area kids don’t always have enough food. He has helped pack BackSnack packs, worked Harvesters campaigns, helped make boxes for food, Lucas even sorted rice. “We do this because there are kids out there, younger than me, that may not have food for like two days,” said the sixth-grader from Lawson, about 40 miles from Kansas City. “I didn’t know that very many people didn’t have a lot of jobs. … I want to help people like I’ve helped a few times. I want to, like they say, meet the need.” Volunteering for the food bank, and helping feed kids, has become momand-son time. Lucas likes the different opportunities. Especially recently, when he and his mom helped sort fro-

HOW YOU CAN HELP For the third year, The Star is partnering with Harvesters to hold a virtual food drive. All money raised will go to Harvesters’ BackSnack program for kids. Go to to make a donation. If you’d like, you can designate your donation in the honor or memory of a family member or friend. The Star will publish the dedications on Christmas Day. Dedications need to be in by 5 p.m. Dec. 23 to appear in the Christmas paper.

zen foods at Harvesters. “I got to see a freezer that can fit 50 woolly mammoths in there,” he said. The two go at least once a month, sometimes more. He now wants to take some of his friends along. “If I miss any time at all,” Elaine said, “he’s like, ‘Mom, we haven’t been to Harvesters lately.’ He keeps me on it.”

Two Topeka officers slain TOPEKA | Authorities say two Topeka police officers were shot outside a grocery store and died later at a hospital. Topeka police said a 22-year-old male suspect was at large after Sunday evening’s shooting. He was believed to be armed and extremely dangerous. The officers were shot when they were responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle at a central Topeka grocery store. They were identified as 50-year-old Cpl. David Gogian and 29-year-old Officer Jeff Atherly. A small crowd gathered for a candlelight vigil outside Topeka police headquarters as police announced the officers’ deaths to reporters nearby. Gogian had been with the Topeka department since September 2004 and Atherly since April 2011. | The Associated Press

To reach Laura Bauer, call 816-234-4944 or send email to


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