Indiana Superintendent Casey Smitherman
Thanks to her attempted good deed, Casey Smitherman is now being charged with numerous serious crimes.

Religious teachings often press us to help those in need if we are able to do so. The Bible famously includes a parable dedicated to this very idea. But what happens when assuming the role of Good Samaritan goes terribly wrong?

That’s the position an Indiana school superintendent has landed in after helping a sick student to receive medical treatment. It all started when Casey Smitherman, the superintendent of Elwood Community School Corporation, noticed that a certain 15-year-old student had not been at school for a few days. She decided to drop by his house and quickly realized that he was quite ill and showing signs of strep throat.

Concerned for the student’s well being, Smitherman drove him to the hospital so he could see a doctor. Smitherman knew the student well (having previously helped him buy new clothes and other basic items), and understood that he didn’t have insurance to cover the medication costs. That’s when she decided to put down her own son’s name and insurance information so the student could receive the medication he needed.

Caught in the Act

Local police later received a tip and decided to investigate the incident. When pressed, Smitherman freely admitted that she had given false information to the pharmacy in order to help the student and turned herself in.

It’s a misstep she may end up paying dearly for – Smitherman is now being charged with numerous crimes, including insurance fraud, official misconduct, and identity deception. Although it’s possible she’ll get off with a fine and some community service, it’s still a steep price to pay for the crime of helping another human being in distress.

Was it Immoral?

How should we judge this situation? On the one hand, it’s unethical to lie and impersonate someone else – especially when dealing with medical issues and insurance. But what are the moral implications of allowing a sick child to suffer? Would a Good Samaritan dutifully follow the law, sticking the child with expensive medical bills? Or would they instead decide that breaking the law – especially one in which the only “victim” is a large insurance company – is worth it to ease the suffering of a child?

Casey Smitherman chose the latter path, and will now face the consequences. What would you have done in her situation?

44 comments

  1. William Thompson says:

    While the school employee thought she was helping the student she also knew she was wrong and committing fraud. Plus, the child’s care is none of her business. She should have consulted with the parents. It was the parents duty to care for the child. End of subject.

    1. Don says:

      “the child’s care is none of her business”

      If the child had died in her classroom, the school would have MADE it her business. And the parents are irrelevant, since they don’t even properly feed or clothe their own child. THEY should be the ones charged with a crime, not the teacher.

      1. Mainane santo santos says:

        You are both right to a point, fraud and deception that is a whole can of worms over and above the initial hospital visit.
        If this was happening at school i believe the district would have stepped in and with bigger shoulders the brouhaha would never have erupted, as for the parent/parents they are not even mentioned. But with the enclosed statement of help buying clothes and other basic needs i feel that is a moot point.
        Let us just hope the courts look at her as a drug addled pimp or a murderer and lets her off with a slap on the wrist.

    2. Timothy G. Veneck says:

      WOW just saw this . I have a similar that just happened to me. I cant believe that Securitas security the company I was working for for 6 years and contracted to Kaiser Antioch CA. hosp to provide security fired me for trying to save a patients life that had just had a traffic accident in the Kaiser AMC parking lot back on 1-10-2019. The patient was not breathing and was in full arrest. All I was doing was holding the patients head and airway open. They said I should have been directing traffic and not holding the patients airway open. WOW I’m a EMT and have been a CPR First Aid instructor with the red cross and American Heart association. I was even a Paramedic coordinator for a Ambulance Service in Los Angeles.

  2. Don says:

    “Religious teachings often press us to help those in need if we are able to do so.”

    Secular teachings have also said this, and long before the Bible was ever written.

    That said, I would have done the SAME THING – help the child.

    When it comes to choosing between what is legal and what is right, I will choose RIGHT every time.

  3. Dr. Gordon F. Blaney Jr. says:

    A right and a right makes a right. A wrong and a wrong makes a wrong. A right or a wrong with its opposite is a wrong. The ends don’t justify the means.

    She lied, cheated, and stole to help someone, so she is wrong. We must give to Caesar what is his, and we must give to God what is God. Judgement, however, is for God and not man. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; I’m not qualified.

    It might have been better to crowdfund or fundraise or seek other legal means to do what she did. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. It’s over. Let the courts decide her earthly punishment and let God decide her spiritual punishment.

    Who knows, I, myself, under similar circumstances might’ve fallen prey to committing this wrong. I wish the best for her and the person she helped. May their faith guide them now and the future.

    1. JASON D BENDER says:

      re: “A right or a wrong with its opposite is a wrong. The ends don’t justify the means”
      Those sentiments are not always true… For instance: It is wrong to lie… It is not wrong for undercover persons to lie to murderous cartel members, to end their reign of terror, for example.,. The ends frequently justify the means, they frequently do not. Things are rarely binary. Unless you are 5 or ignorant.

      1. Gerardo Salazar says:

        For my friends Justice andf for my enemies the Law. Justice is to give to every person what he/ she deserves and that is the reason why we have courts of law, magistrates and judges. These people know the law but before applying it they listen, ponder and pass judgement.
        In Les Miserables Jean Valjean is given a prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children during a time of economic depression. He broke the law. Now, my friends, was his act a reprensible one or and act of mercy?
        It is so easy to judge from your living room while having a nice cuppa but when you have seen dispaired parents crying for lack of money to treat their children while in the other hand your neighbor, a surgeon, shows you his new yacht is when you begin to wonder if this is the way things should happen
        Something is very, very wrong and needs to be fixed NOW.

    2. Gerardo Salazar says:

      Excuse me sir, but what is your point?

      1. Dr. Gordon F. Blaney says:

        If you’re really serious about being ordained, and being capable of ministering to one or more faiths or to those with morals and no faith, then you should take the time and space to use your intelligence to gain knowledge through reading and listening, competence through practical application, and wisdom through experience. It irritates me when people get ordained, with or without the honorary doctored, and don’t do their homework. If all you want to do is have pride and ego about being ordained or just to do it for the sake of earning monies from spiritual events or just doing spiritual events for “fun”, then you should take your papers that you received and burn them; you’re not doing any justice to the life of those of us trying to minister through this open concept organization.

        If, however, you’re serious about the question. Whatever the reasons you do something wrong, no matter if your intentions are good or bad, it’s still wrong; we cannot justify doing something wrong just because something good comes out of it.

        The Bible is clear. It teaches that as long as a governing person, people, or nation sets a law that doesn’t make us do evil things that we must follow it. This woman broke the law, and doing so broke her covenant with God. It’s between her and the courts as well as God what happens. It’s not up to me to be her judge. I’m relieved I don’t have that responsibility.

      2. Lynn Gideon says:

        Back at you, what is your point?

        1. Gerardo Salazar says:

          My point is that I see many words but no conclusion. Is he for or against? I see many could and should and nothing more.
          Much ado about nothing.

  4. Don says:

    “She lied, cheated, and stole”
    From whom did she steal?

    “It might have been better to crowdfund or fundraise or seek other legal means to do what she did”
    And let the child die? You think THAT would have been the moral thing to do?? WOW.

    “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; I’m not qualified.”
    Well, I am. To sin is to “go against the known will of God”, and since no god has ever made his/her/its will known to me, I cannot sin.

    “let God decide her spiritual punishment”
    You mean the pathetic God character in the Bible? That cowardly two-faced weasel isn’t fit to judge my excrement.
    Thank goodness it’s all imaginary.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      The dictionary defines sin as missing the mark. The only way she missed the mark was by not covering all bases before committing those crimes. So, she set herself up for failure. When I can’t cover all bases a crime isn’t worth committing, regardless of how strong I feel about it. And so far, at almost 56 years old, I’ve never been convicted of a crime. That doesn’t mean I’ve never committed any. If something seems right to me, and I’m sure I can get away with it, I’ll do it, regardless of the legalities, morals, or ethics. You never heard me claim to be morally astute, or a model citizen, but I’m plenty religious and spiritual nevertheless. And I’m not even a Christian, or believe in sin. It all boils down to one thing. As Barreta would say “If you can’t serve the time, don’t do the crime. Regardless of how it seems to other people, live within the boundaries of your conscience. Only do what seems right to you, and you can’t go wrong, even if you’re in jail for it. And always carry enough cash for commissary, in case you get caught. Can I hear an Amen?!

  5. Wayne Stevens says:

    I guess you might say what is more important the life of a child or the rules of some obscure Corporation Hardware rule by just playing decency what are mixed up world

  6. Tim Traviolia says:

    Here’s a comment for you, we have the top leader of the nation lying, cheating, stealing, destroying our values and this woman gets arrested for being a good Samaritan? Shame on the system, shame on the leaders, and shame on the gold digging health care system that doesn’t have the heart to stand and be counted with the people in need. And shame on all of us for allowing this type of representation to occur.

    1. JASON D BENDER says:

      Shame on US for not having Universal Healthcare!

      1. Kitty says:

        I love both these comments!! They are both so true! It can be seen so clearly in the majority of these comments. Persons are sewed to the system of mans law. One day again we will learn to think for ourselves. Stop the silence and we can start to stop the violence. Foul politicians will never serve the betterment of the people. We have to make what we want ourselves because no one else will do it for us.

      2. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Go for the gusto !

  7. Br'er George says:

    If someone is concerned for a sick child and brings the child to the hospital they shouldn’t get in trouble since sick kids brought to hospitals should get help.

  8. Jim says:

    I thought that everyone now must have insurance. How is it that this kid has no insurance? Obamacare was supposed to cover everyone. That said, there is a couple of things here. 1 She broke the law and should pay for the fraud and filing a false insurance claim. 2. there is way to much info on this that is not being said. The hospital would have to treat this kid if his parents had taken him even without insurance. As usual it appears that the ULCM is not giving all the info on this subject. 3. What she should have done was report this to child services. If this family is that poor that she has bought clothes and other BASIC items for the kid. I would assume they are on some kind of assistance. If its the cost of the medication why not just pay for it out of pocket she is a school superintendent. They are typically well paid folks so why not just pay out of pocket for the meds?

    1. Jim D says:

      Exactly, Jim. Thank you for pointing this out.

      If she brought a sick child to the hospital, with or without insurance, treatment would have been given.

      She had to lie because it seems she did not bring one of the child’s parents to the hospital to authorize treatment. So she doubly screwed up there.

      Finally, I don’t know about Indiana, but I know superintendents in Pennsylvania make anywhere from $125K to $150K per year. Why not just pay out of pocket for a doctor visit and meds. How much would it have cost her? $200? $500 tops.

      I agree, Jim. There is a lot more to this story than what has been published. There is a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t add up.

      1. Lori says:

        I agree. Paying out of pocket is what she should have done. It’s what I have done for stray animals that were ill or injured, so why not do the same for a child. It sounds like the parent didn’t care one way or the other (missing info). In taking the child to the doctor she still would have had to say it was her son, but she shouldn’t have used her sons insurance. Or take the situation to someone who could get him care legally.

  9. BethKCZ says:

    This is all well and good, except that this child’s medical records will be included into her son’s medical records – including procedures, blood type, allergies, atypical medication reactions. Should something need to be removed, that too, will be in her son’s medical records. He may face many years or a lifetime trying to get around this wrong information in his medical records. Some of that information could be life endangering to him.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of that, since others used my insurance information to receive care in my name.

    It would have been fine had she put herself down as the responsible party and paid the bill herself – enlisting the help of others if she wanted to, all on the up-and-up. While I am for single-payer, and get the insurance companies out of healthcare, we have the system we have, and gaming that system causes trouble for everyone.

    1. Lionheart says:

      She committed fraud, plain and simple. She broke the law.

      1. Tim Traviolia says:

        And you support Trump too, right”?

        1. Dr. Gordon F. Blaney Jr. says:

          On what planet does Donald Trump have anything to do with the poster’s ideology in theological matters? @Tim Traviola your comment is erroneous and ignorant.

        2. lionheart2020 says:

          I’ve just looked through the article again Tim and I don’t see any references to President Trump. Is your comment meant to be some sort of intelligent remark?

          When I legally became an American citizen, along with my family, I swore to uphold the law of the United States of America, in front of the American flag, which so many have given their lives for Tim. This was in a court of law in front of a NaturaIization Judge. I love my new country Tim! I assume you are a fellow citizen so please can you tell me if I did the right thing swearing on that oath?

  10. Gerardo Salazar says:

    Mark 3:1-6 New International Version (NIV)

    Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
    3 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

    4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

      1. Br'er George says:

        Yuuup! Ditto Amen on DAT!

  11. Maurice Slaunwhite says:

    The parents should have been contacted so they could take there 15 year old to the doctor and things would have been looked after in a Legal way.

  12. Tom says:

    The Superintendent should have first asked the parents…if they could not pay, and were refusing to do anything, then the child should have been brought to the emergency room, where he would have to been treated, regardless if he could not pay…or the Superintendent should have paid herself; an examination and treatment for strep throat is not expensive…in any event, the story as described shows interference with parental rights over a minor, and simple disregard for committing fraud…the Superintendent was wrong…Peace…Tom

  13. Lea Weisenbach says:

    Obama’s health care dose not work…Yes we have problems..But I don’t get how Trump gets into this??

    Yes she did wrong and may have caused a big problem for her own son.
    Now I know someone that had 3 kids and a Ex that never payed child support. She received health care through the school system that was Michigan. There are other ways to help this kid I’m sure. She knew about a his problems and something is very wrong there..Where were the parents?

  14. Kitty says:

    I think there’s more than one question to be answered here. What she did to help the boy was absolutely moral and right. However, the methods by which she chose are questionable. Especially since the cost is not that great for medicine of that type and perhaps she should visit the walk-in clinic and not ER. But that’s what I would have done having the experience I’ve been blessed with through my life. I will not and cannot judge because I don’t know the cercumstance they were in. As for the breaking of the law: those are mans laws and she did right by laws of God. What’s legal (or illegal) is not what is moral (or amoral) Everyone is on their own spiritual path and those living-levels are very diverse. How each person relates to the physical world and the powers that be will depend on the levels of knowledge within their spiritual journey. I honor her courage to stand against the system and follow her heart to give aid to a suffering child.

  15. Gerardo Salazar says:

    The latest super carrier, the Gerald Ford, has surpassed a price tag of 13 billion USD. Do we really need a new ship or wouldn´t it be better to invest that huge amount of funds in an efficient Public Health System in which the citizens can have access to medicine and treatment that has been paid by their taxes?
    But, alas, how many lawmakers are behind the Medical Industry and would they be willing to sacrifice their earnings for the sake of their ¨dear constituents¨ and ¨fellow Americans¨?
    We claim to be one country under God but when it comes to look after our brothers and sisters we conveniently forget the teachings and let them die.

  16. Gerry says:

    This is an unfortunate situation, in the USA many people do not have health insurance, however, I live in the United Kingdom where everyone is entitled to free medical treatment through the National Health Service and so the child would have been treated for free and no crime would have needed to be committed. Perhaps how USA government’s lack of a free health service for the majority of those in need is the greater crime and social injustice.

  17. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON says:

    Luckily, Canadian law covers medical care, for EVERYONE, and has “good Samaritan” protection as well. As long as you don’t go beyond what you know, and don’t cause harm, you are covered. For example, when I was still in the military, if I noticed an accident, and was in uniform, I was ORDERED to assist. If, in the process of helping, I had to remove someone from a burning vehicle and caused them to lose use of their legs, but otherwise live, they would not be able to successfully sue me for damages, because they still lived. (This scenario happened to my nephew, and the judge dismissed the case within the first 2 minutes, due to the Good Samaritan principles.) If, however, I was to do an emergency tracheotomy, I would be going beyond my assumed knowledge, and would be liable for a lawsuit, as well as criminal charges (assault with a weapon, pretending to practice medicine, etc.), even if the person lived.

  18. Ruth says:

    Why this child did not have Medicaid?
    A more helpful route, would have been to help him get the basic health care even before things got so difficult.
    She lied, she is guilty. She should have paid with her money for the medication.
    The parents or guardias of this child should also be charged with child negligence.

  19. John Owens says:

    I hope the young man is liberated from his parent and placed in a decent home.

  20. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, ADS, OM says:

    It is truly sad, that here we are living in one of the richest nations of the world and a woman felt she had to go to extraordinary lengths to help a child in dire need. Healthcare is horribly expensive and so is medication. Not until there is affordable universal healthcare coverage for ALL Americans will situations like this ever end.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Maybe the kid left his insurance card at home, and maybe the superintendent was being sneaky. Maybe she didn’t want his parents to know she was taking him to the hospital, for fear of their disapproval. Maybe the boy doesn’t even have parents. The story wasn’t well written, and left a lot of open possibilities. Who’s to say? All we can do is guess.

  21. carmela argentino says:

    it was morally wrong for the teacher to give false information. if she really wanted to be a good Samarathan she should have just paid out of her own pocket. the good samarathan example in the bible teaches us that you pay out of your own pocket to do a good deed. if you are not prepared to loose something small to gain something great in the kingdom of heaven, then don’t bother.

  22. James says:

    Yes, she “broke the laws”, Drugs to a child using fake names. But laws written to benefit the medical & drug industry is an issues in its self. If she gave the kid some Vit “C” or other “food / supplement to assist in natural healing she would be in the news for practicing medicine w/ no licence. A no win situation for assisting.

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