Category Archives: Shaken Baby Syndrome

MD State Attorney Has Eye For Detail

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Rocking horses outside the home of daycare provider Gail Dobson in Trappe, Md., who was convicted in the death of 9-month-old Trevor Ulrich.

Montgomery leads the way on prosecuting
Child Abuse

Montgomery County, MD  –  Cases involving the deaths of very young children are not easy to prosecute.  There usually are no witnesses, the medical information is often complicated, emotions are fraught, and it is always hard to believe that anyone — least of all those whose care the child has been placed in — would want to cause harm.  So a trio of convictions in child deaths won by Montgomery County prosecutors over the past year is noteworthy, underscoring State’s Attorney John McCarthy’s priority in combating crimes against society’s most helpless.

“Trevor would have been 8 years old, he would have been in second grade.  He would have had a joyful life.  But now there are only tears and sadness and a void that his death left behind,” Assistant State’s Attorney Debbie Feinstein told the jury that this month found day-care provider Gail Dobson guilty of second-degree murder in the Sept. 3, 2009, death of 9-month-old Trevor Ulrich.  It was the second time the Eastern Shore woman had been found guilty; an earlier conviction was overturned on the grounds of ineffective counsel, and the case became ensnared in an ongoing debate over the validity of Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma.

Montgomery prosecutors, who took over the case because of conflicts by Talbot County officials, used Ms. Dobson’s conviction — along with the convictions in Montgomery last year of Moussa Sissoko (sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended for killing his infant son for $750,000 in insurance) and Adou Louis Kouadio (sentenced to 40 years in the murder of his 2-month-old son) — to make critical points:  that dynamic head movement and impact can do great damage to young brains and those who might suggest otherwise do a great disservice.

“Junk science” was Mr. McCarthy’s characterization as he pointed out that the experts who “supposedly should have been called” in Ms. Dobson’s first trial were not allowed to testify in the second trial because they failed to meet the legal standard.

The possibility always exists that a person could be wrongly accused in a child’s death because of sloppy work by investigators or medical personnel.  But testimony in Ms. Dobson’s case detailed the painstaking process — including the work of experts at Children’s National Medical Center — used to determine the cause of death and how investigators looked for other causes and tried to rule out abuse.  The resources that Mr. McCarthy’s office has devoted to investigation of child abuse and deaths — including Ms. Feinstein’s development into a national expert — set a model that other jurisdictions should follow.

WI Toddler Showing Signs Of Being Shaken

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Toddler Showing Signs Of Being Shaken

Oshkosh Man Arrested for Child Abuse after 2-month-old taken to hospital

OSHKOSH, WI  –  A 31-year-old Oshkosh man was arrested Tuesday for child abuse.

The suspect’s 2-month-old daughter was taken to Mercy Hospital where an exam showed for injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.  The infant was transported to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

The condition of the infant is unknown at this time.

“Detectives did travel down there maybe about an hour ago,” says Crime Prevention Officer Joseph Nichols just before 3 PM Wednesday, “but I haven’t received an update in regards to the child’s condition.”

Nichols says cases of alleged child abuse are relatively rare for Oshkosh, and taken very seriously.

Charges are expected to be filed against the suspect soon.  His identity is being withheld until then.

ND Man Admits Shaking Baby

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Reese Andrew Young

Man charged with Child Abuse after admitting to shaking baby

FARGO, ND  –  A man is charged in Cass County Court after court documents say he admitted to shaking an infant.

Reese Andrew Young is charged with one count of child abuse and one count of aggravated assault/domestic violence.  Court documents say the charges stem from Young grabbing a two-month-old by the ribs and shaking him, causing a brain bleed and extreme pain.

Police were called to Essentia Health on November 3 for a child abuse report.  A two-month-old baby had swelling on the soft spot of his head.  A scan was done that found injuries consistent with a shaken baby.

The officer who responded to the emergency room asked to speak with Young.  Court documents say Young immediately broke down and cried saying “I’m sorry” multiple times and also said “I didn’t mean to.”

According to the court documents, Young said he was stressed and admitted to shaking the baby in his crib around 3:00 a.m.

Reese Young was taken to the Cass County Jail, but has since been released.  A no contact order was put into place on Monday, November 7.

Effects Of Child Abuse Can Last A Lifetime

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A moment of anger in an adult can lead to a lifetime of struggle for the child.

Local neurosurgeon raising awareness about
Child Abuse

SAN ANTONIO, TX  –  We hear the stories far too often, children injured at the hands of an abuser.  And while the abuser may be brought to justice and the stories may fade away, the damage done to the child will last forever.

Dr. Kimberly Terry is a pediatric neurosurgeon at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, and far too often the brains she operates on are damaged by child abuse.

“Our trauma team is actually thinking about doing a study because we have so much of it here, unfortunately it’s really rampant here in our community.” Terry said.

Every month Terry operates on three to four children with brain damage due to abuse.

Terry showed scans of a normal brain.  When compared to scans of a brain damaged due to abuse, the scans had patches of dark and light grey throughout.

“The darker areas are old blood – the lighter areas are new blood.  It’s actually on the outside of the brain and pressing on the brain and causing pressure.  We also see dark areas that are showing early signs of stroke,” Terry said.

Doctors can tell the difference between an accidental injury and a case of abuse.  Many times a parent or caregiver will claim a child was injured by falling out of a crib, or hitting their head during a fall. But the scans don’t lie.

“The scans will show a chronic appearance of old blood that you don’t see that in a trauma that just happened.  They will often show repeated abuse in children.” Terry said.

While she can save a life, Terry cannot reverse the damage.  She wants to remind us all that a moment of anger in an adult can lead to a lifetime of struggle for the child.

“It’s really sad to see a beautiful 12-month-old or 6-month-old child who is perfectly normal and is never going to see again, never going to be able to talk, never going to be able to walk,” Terry said.

She hopes educating people about the devastating effects of abuse will give people pause before striking a child.

Michigan Child Abuse Registry

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Wyatt’s Law would help protect Children from Abuse

WYATT’S LAW

“Brutal Abuse Of Toddler Leads To New Bill That Could Crack Down On Child Abusers”

Michigan  –  The brutal abuse of Wyatt Rewoldt has led to the birth of a proposed bill that could crack down on vile child abusers.

According to Fox News, the boy’s mother, Erica Hammel, feels her son’s traumatic life experience is much more than just an isolated incident.

Now, she’s fighting to make sure the woman responsible for her son’s injuries, and all other child abusers, never have opportunities to harm children again.  Little Wyatt’s injuries have led to the birth of a unique bill called Wyatt’s Law, which would require child abusers to be part of a registry to make their actions known to others, much like the mandatory requirement for sex offenders.

According to the Independent Journal Review, the petition for this law began with a life-altering incident that occurred back in 2013.

Erica Hammel reportedly had serious reservations about sending her son Wyatt to stay with his father and his new live-in girlfriend, Rachel Edwards.  Initially, she assumed it was only fear of the unfamiliar, but she soon learned her reservations were warranted.

On November 1, 2013, Hammel received gut-wrenching news when she learned her one-year-old son Wyatt had been brutally beaten and that he was near death as a result of the horrific mistreatment he suffered at the hands of his father’s girlfriend, Rachel Edwards.

It has been reported that Wyatt suffered “brain injuries, head trauma, a skull fracture, broken ribs, and eye injuries, according to a doctor that treated the boy during seven weeks of rehabilitation at Children’s Hospital of Michigan,” reports Macomb Daily.  The injuries are reportedly consistent with “Shaken Baby Syndrome.”

Needless to say, Hammel was devastated about her son’s condition, but shortly after, she discovered something else about Rachel Edwards that she was totally unaware of.  Apparently, Edwards had a history of abuse with the previous child abuse convictions — a felony in 2011 and a 2013 misdemeanor charge not long before the harrowing incident that led to Wyatt’s injuries.

Hammel adamantly believes that, if the convictions of child abusers had been made public, her son may not have been a victim.  She would have been able to justify that gut instinct she had before allowing her son to go with Edwards and his father.  In a previous hearing back in January of 2015, she spoke out about her son’s injuries and how she feels Wyatt’s Law could prevent other defenseless children from suffering the same injuries as Wyatt.

“I just want to make sure she never can abuse a child again,” Hammel said at the hearing.  “I thought she made herself look even more guilty and like a coward,” Hammel said.  “She can’t own up to her own actions, and it’s disgusting to me she can feel no remorse for what happened to my son.”

According to Detroit Free Press, Edwards was sentenced to 33 months to 10 years in prison after pleading no contest to the second-degree child abuse charges in connection with Wyatt’s injuries.

Wyatt’s story has garnered national attention, as many others agree that child abuse registries should be mandated nationwide.  Now, petitions have been launched in other states, and Wyatt’s Law has been introduced into legislature.  Although Wyatt has made vast improvements, he still has a long road to recovery ahead.