February 5, 2015

Sydney's Celiac Disease

For a while, I've felt the need to write a post dedicated to what my sister Sydney (now age 15) had to physically endure at the hands of my father, because what she has gone through is actual abuse.

Documented History

My dad physically abused my sister, Sydney, by forcing her to eat gluten despite her official celiac disease diagnosis. During her life, my sister Sydney experienced serious and painful problems whenever she ate gluten. My mom took her to around 80 doctor appointments over many years to try to find why she had so much pain. Finally, on February 28, 2006, Sydney was admitted to Primary Children’s Hospital and had a biopsy taken from the small intestine to conclusively confirm that she has celiac disease. Dad was informed of this on March 10, 2006.

Mom immediately completely changed Syd's diet and consistently ensured that she wasn't served any food that contained gluten. Because Dad refused to cooperate and, at times, insisted that Sydney eat gluten-containing food such as popular breads and doughnuts, Mom was forced to secure various notes (May 3, May 10, June 13, June 16, August 14 2006, and March 21 2007) and emails to Dad to inform and compel him to stop feeding Sydney gluten. My mom had to send him emails again from Dr. Harnsberger on November 15, 2006, confirming the celiac diagnosis and the importance of a gluten-free diet. Mom hoped it would lead him to stop undermining Sydney’s required diet.

People with celiac disease are at much greater risk of getting intestinal cancer than other people are, a fact my dad knew and ignored as he forced her to eat gluten anyway. It is poison to my sister. You might be wondering w
hat the Complications of Celiac Disease are?

  • Damage to the small intestine resulting in diseases from malnutrition
  • Lymphoma and adenocarcinoma 
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Miscarriage and congenital malformation of the baby
  • Short stature 
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Studies suggest Celiac links to type 1 Diabetes

My mom was still urging the court in March 2008 to help her with Dad's refusal to stick to a gluten-free diet for Sydney. They had multiple emails back and forth through Sandra Dredge (special master) regarding the celiac diagnosis in which my dad tried to say Mom had to get yet another letter from Dr. Harnsberger to confirm Syd's celiac disease diagnosis. After a lengthy period, Dad finally agreed to adhere to the gluten-free diet for Sydney. (That is YEARS of Sydney being fed gluten during his weekends because my dad refused to be told what to do.)

After primary custody was transferred to Dad in 2010, he broke his promise to provide Sydney exclusively with non-gluten foods. There was yet another round of emails between my mom and dad in July 2011 through the special master where my Dad refused to believe Sydney is a celiac, saying on July 29, 2011 that Sydney doesn't have celiac disease. How much does he need?

Her Experience

Now that you've had a chance to review the documents and history of my sister Sydney's diagnosis, I'm going to recollect my personal experiences regarding exactly what Sydney was going through emotionally, mentally and physically to give you all a piece of what living with our dad on a daily basis was like for her.

I watched him tell my sister numerous times that not only could she eat gluten food but that she would eat gluten food, and he forced her to do just that, despite the obvious pain such a diet inflicted on her. My dad continued to force my sister to eat gluten throughout the four-plus years that he was her primary custodial parent. Through the first and second year after Dad was awarded physical and legal custody of us, he lectured us on a near-daily basis regarding the supposed misguided nature of the advice given to Syd by medical experts and Mom regarding gluten-free food. My dad repeatedly told Sydney (and us) that those who had told her to eat a non-gluten diet were either incompetent or unreliable. I personally heard my dad tell Sydney the following things:

a.     Sydney had never been tested for celiac disease;
b.     The doctor who said Syd has celiac disease is well known in Utah and nationally for diagnosing everyone she evaluates with celiac disease; nonetheless, she isn’t a good doctor;
c.     Mom had coached Syd into believing she was diagnosed with celiac disease;
d.     Celiac disease is just a digestion problem, a “fad,” and not an actual disorder; and
e.     Mom had fabricated the diagnosis and made it all up to gain custody of the children.

When we started living with him, and he started getting angry at Sydney for choosing to follow her diet, my mom tried everything she could to work with him. He complained how expensive gluten free food is, and so she would buy Syd's GF food and give it to dad and Angie. When Dad got Sydney to take some bogus test and claimed she didn't have Celiac anymore, he threw away all the GF food and forced Syd to eat gluten. My dad lied to us all and told us the test Syd had taken had been confirmed by doctors that she 100% did NOT have Celiac disease.

She couldn't complain that she had a hurt stomach from the gluten he was forcing her to eat, because she would get in trouble (and by "get in trouble," I mean hours of verbal abuse that always included Dad tearing down our mom). She couldn't mention that she ate gluten free at Mom's on the visits, because she would get in trouble. It was awful for her; a living hell.

Because of my dad’s consistently harsh negative reactions (emotional abuse on top of physical abuse) to Sydney’s attempts to remain gluten-free over the last several years, Sydney was too afraid to refuse to eat the gluten food that she was served at my dad's house. She told me she was afraid to tell him that the gluten food caused her pain and sickness, which it always did. It was so hard to watch her suffer after eating gluten. Because my dad was SO severely upset (for reasons I still don't understand) that Sydney had a desire to stick to her diet (so that she wouldn't be in excruciating pain), we would have to hide from him that she was eating gluten free at Mom's.  

After a visit with Mom, this is how it would typically go during the regular visitation questioning he gave us:

      "So, girls, what did you eat for dinner on Friday?"
      (We would answer.)
      "What did you eat for breakfast on Saturday?"
      (We would answer.)
      "Breakfast on Sunday?"

If any of the meals contained gluten; for example, pizza; He would ask "Was it normal pizza or gluten free?" If we answered gluten free, he would lecture us (and then Sydney later, alone) about how pointless it was for Mom to feed her gluten free food. He would tell her that she had to stand up to Mom and refuse the food, and if Sydney said something like, "But I want to eat gluten free," he would emotionally drain her until she was beaten into submission, and sometimes that took hours.

After months of this, we couldn't take the pointless pain that came from telling Dad that Sydney ate the gluten free food at Mom's house. We began answering his questions like, "Yeah, dad. It was normal pizza" in order to seek relief from his endless lectures. It wasn't long until he started telling us that he didn't believe us, so we started telling him that we ate meals that didn't contain gluten (like salad) in order to spare Sydney the pain.

Because my dad began to get paranoid that we were all planning on what to tell him, he started asking us individually, apart from each other. He wanted to catch us in a lie. He wanted to get mad at my mom so badly for feeding us gluten free food.

During Syd's visitation with Mom (where she was served a strictly gluten-free diet), she confided in us that whenever she is made to eat gluten, she feels sharp pains everywhere on her body like being stabbed with a small knife; nausea; diarrhea; horrible stomach pains like knives shredding her stomach; headaches; and other symptoms. She says she has felt this way since she can remember and it has not ceased in recent years.


  1. If a teacher forced a child to eat gluten in class after being informed by a doctor that the child has celiac disease, that teacher would be fired immediately and unable to teach again. It is no different than making a kid with a peanut allergy eat a peanut butter sandwich. It is outrageous to me that Brian Wolferts has been allowed to put Sydney's health at risk so dangerously!

  2. lynell dangerfield2/5/15, 1:06 PM

    Where are the authorities to protect these girls from an obviously abusive father???????...I am shocked beyond belief!!! How can this happen???? Syd, Dani, Michelle....PLEASE stay hidden ! When you are 18, I will give you a home to live in...Your father will never have control over your life again! I am disgusted with him, his family, and the Utah court system. Corruption all over! The Wolferts family will suffer for their neglect either in this life or the next, or both.

    1. I just experienced severe corruption in the CA courts and I was absolutely shocked and I felt so broken after I left the court house. Tiny little technicalities that buddies in the system use to throw out cases. It's disgusting!!

      So much corruption. I hope Brian ends up in jail.

  3. Here is a long but highly informative video about celiac disease. Anyone who says it is not real (like the abusive Brian Wolferts) is just willfully ignorant. Forcing a child with disease to eat gluten-containing foods is child abuse. No question about it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOd7vQsVTZw

  4. The emails from your mother to your father are so nice and respectful. I would NOT be as nice as she was if my ex kept putting our daughter in harm. Also, these emails prove how loving and kind your mom was towards your father. She WANTED you guys to have a relationship with your father, there is ZERO evidence of PAS, it is actually the opposite and your mom was far too nice. Your dad needs help and the girls need to stay away from him. Please let your readers know what we can do to help!

  5. I dated a guy who had celiac disease and one time we ate dinner at a restaurant that supposedly served GF pizza. Within 20-30 minutes of eating... he started having severe pain. This 30 yr old man was curled up in a ball, shaking. He rushed to the bathroom and had severe diarrhea and stomach pains for days. We later found that his pizza wasn't made strictly gluten free... even a trace of gluten caused such a harsh reaction. It was horrible seeing him in SEVERE pain. He couldn't even speak to me, he just held his stomach and was shaking.

    It is a disease!!
    Brian is a fool. He sounds like he has severe anxiety. Possibly bi polar disorder or paranoid schizophrenia.

    I can see why your mom left him. :( I hope the girls choose to avoid him forever. Being with your mom, they are being taught to love and forgive...what an amazing woman!!!

  6. Your mom is so much better than Brian. He may be blood related to you-- but he is no father. Sweet Abby knows this, too. I am anxious for the day Abby is free as well.

    I hope your wedding is beautiful and without his menacing spirit. Congratulations on finding a priesthood leader who can actually bless your family!!!
    Fathers should prevent harm. Not cause harm.

  7. I agree that this is absolutely, without a doubt, child abuse. Sydney could have miscarriages or babies with congenital birth defects if she continues to eat gluten when her dad forces her to! She could end up with cancer of the small intestine! Imagine if she thinks that her pain is only because of her diet, and doesn't check out whether cancer has formed. It seems clear he used the celiac issue as a tool to further cause distress to his ex as a way to keep controlling and abusing her as well. This is just sick and wrong.