Woman With Postpartum Depression Pleads Guilty

L A G U N A   N I G U E L, Calif., July 6, 2001 -- A woman accused of trying to drown her twin babies pleaded guilty to child endangerment today and was given probation by a judge who called it a case of postpartum depression.

Paula Thompson, 46, entered the plea under a deal that will keep her out of prison.

Superior Court Judge Pamela Iles placed the woman on probation for five years. She said Thompson would be allowed supervised visits with the twins and her third child, a 3-year-old boy.

"This is not a child abuse case. This is a postpartum depression case," the judge told Thompson. "We want to walk you through this nightmare you've been through."

Wanted to Kill Her Children

Thompson appeared composed in court. In her purse was a magazine carrying the headline "I Killed My Children," a reference to Andrea Yates, a Houston mother charged with drowning her five children last month. Yates' husband said she was suffering from postpartum depression.

"I pray for her every night. I know how she felt," Thompson said. "It's an illness."

Thompson was arrested Dec. 12 after her mother-in-law found her in a bathroom with the twins, who were wet, fully clothed and crying. The twins, a boy and a girl, were 4 months old at the time.

Authorities said Thompson told sheriff's deputies she wanted to kill the children. She was sent to the University of California, Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital for evaluation.

Hopes to Get Well

Thompson was also ordered to perform 160 hours of community service, submit to psychiatric care and notify the court if she changes her physician.

"I would like nothing more than to get in my car, drive home and see my children," Thompson said outside court. "But they want to make sure I'm well. I want to make sure I'm well."

Thompson and her husband, John, said they have joined a postpartum depression support group and are trying to put their family back together.

While both knew she was suffering from postpartum depression, they say they neither knew the extent of it until she was found in the bathroom.

"The night before she was singing Christmas carols," said John Thompson, 47.