Tag Archives: Physical Abuse

Child Abuse Growing Problem In NY

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Child Abuse growing in NY

Child Abuse growing problem in CNY, center saw over 700 cases this year

SYRACUSE, NY  –  Several recent high-profile cases have brought attention to the problem of child abuse in Central New York.

We’re learning more details about the abuse suffered by Eli MacDowell.  The 9-year-old was allegedly slammed to the ground by Corey Pilcher last month, causing him to suffer severe brain trauma that put him into a coma.

Pilcher is also accused of abusing Eli’s sister.  According to the Auburn Citizen, court documents show Pilcher poured hot sauce into the girl’s mouth and taped it shut after he says she was too loud while watching television.

Eli is now recovering after several surgeries, including one to remove a portion of his skull.

The boy’s tragedy is not the only case of child abuse to make the headlines this week.

On Thursday, Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey were sentenced in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office described as one of the most horrific cases of child abuse they have ever seen.

Howells and Vaisey received a total of 880 years in prison after admitting they sexually assaulted six children, including two Amish girls they kidnapped from a roadside farm stand in St. Lawrence County in 2014.

Before the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher said more cases are expected to come forward.  Adding Howells and Vaisey are not the first in the area to sexually exploit children and they would not be last.

Every year, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the U.S., according to a non-profit group called ChildHelp.

In 2010, more than 79,000 children in New York were abused or neglected, according to the State’s Central register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

The McMahon Child Advocacy Center saw more than 700 kids this year in their center for child abuse and had 6,500 hotline calls.

At the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse believe one child is too many when it comes to child abuse.

Jami Ryan, who represents the center, says it is shocking how many victims from Central New York walk through their door.

She said:  In the year 2014, the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center saw over 700 kids. We had 6,500 hotline calls, so, absolutely the numbers are there.

Ryan explained that over 90 percent of the cases they see at the center involve a child who has been sexually abused by someone they know, love and trust.

She said:  A lot of times when we see these kids, it can kind of be a confusing situation.  Maybe they know what has happened is not right, it might have made them feel uncomfortable, but at the same time, it can be a little confusing because it is usually happening by someone who they know.

How can we combat this growing issues?

Ryan says it starts with awareness — Knowing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and reporting it is critical.

For example:  Maybe an adult that they used to pick them up from school that they were happy to see, they’re not really wanting to go home with anymore.

Being aware of any changes or behavior can really make all the difference.

The center has an outreach program where members from the center go out to schools across Onondaga County talking to children on how to be safe and how to alert someone they trust if something is not right.

Special Ed Teacher Charged With Child Abuse

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Ashley Frabizzio, 30

Elmwood Park Special Education teacher charged in alleged Child Abuse

Elmwood Park, NJ  –  A special education teacher at an Elmwood Park elementary school has been charged with child abuse and simple assault and released after posting bail, authorities said Monday.

Ashley Frabizzio, 30, of Butler, was arrested Saturday after an investigation that started last Thursday, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in a statement.  Molinelli said the investigation began when detectives of the Elmwood Park Police Department were notified by an administrator of the Sixteenth Avenue Elementary School of allegations against Frabizzio.

No details were provided concerning where or when the abuse was alleged to have occurred, or the relationship between Frabizzio and the children allegedly affected.

Molinelli said the investigation was conducted jointly by his office’s Special Victims Unit and the Elmwood Park Police.

Frabizzio was charged with two counts of fourth-degree child abuse and two counts of simple assault, a disorderly persons offense.

Municipal Court Judge Anthony Gallina set bail at $2,500, and ordered Frabizzio released when she posted 10 percent of the bail.

He also ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims, the school or school personnel.

AL DA Wants Longer Child Abuse Punishment

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DA Randall Houston

Wetumpka case prompts DA to seek stronger child-abuse punishment

WETUMPKA, AL  –  District Attorney Randall Houston wants to strengthen the penalty for aggravated child abuse, bringing the punishment up to par with murder and other violent crimes.

Houston’s move would change the punishment in aggravated Child Abuse cases where victims are under the age of 6.

“The aggravated Child Abuse statute covers children from infants to 18-year-olds,” Houston said.  “It’s obvious that a teenager is better able to seek protection from an abuser than a child under the age of 6.”

“These are our youngest, most helpless victims.  After a child is 6, they are usually in a school situation, where educators can recognize the signs of abuse.”

Houston represents the 19th Judicial Circuit, which includes Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties.  Currently, aggravated child abuse is a Class B felony, with a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison.  Houston will be backing a bill in the 2016 legislative session that begins in February to stiffen the penalty to a Class A felony.  Murder, attempted murder and other violent crimes are Class A felonies, with a punishment range of 10 to 99 years to life in prison.

By law, aggravated child abuse results in “serious bodily injury” to the victim.

A current case being investigated by his office moved Houston to seek the punishment upgrade.

“I stood in court last week to oppose a bond request made by a mother who, along with her boyfriend, heinously abused her 4-year-old son to a point that he was near death,” Houston said.  “As I looked that defendant in the eye and thought of the ways she and her boyfriend had abused her own son, I realized that the current penalties for such monstrous acts are inadequate and must be toughened so those who commit them can stare at the four cold walls of a prison cell for the rest of their lives.”

Houston was referring to the case of Hallee Ann McLeod, 28, of Wetumpka, whose son was found unresponsive and injured in the back of a car in Panama City, Fla., in September.  She is facing aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of a child charges in Elmore County, courthouse records show.

Last week Elmore County District Judge Glenn Goggans refused to lower her bond, which had been set at $300,000.  She remained in the Elmore County Jail on Monday, jail records show.

Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin, who has been the county’s top cop for 24 years, calls the abuse “one of the worst cases I have seen.”

The child was discovered by Bay County, Fla., deputies as the car was parked in the courthouse parking lot.  Scott Hicks, McLeods’ boyfriend, had driven to Panama City, Fla., to pay fines on an unrelated case.  Local authorities were contacted by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and an investigation began that showed the abuse of the boy occurred in Elmore County, Franklin said.

“Nothing can erase the trauma that this child suffered, but we can ensure that the severity of the penalty truly matches the severity of the crime,” Houston said.  “Then perhaps justice can be fully obtained.

“As a prosecutor I take my responsibility to ensure the protection of the most defenseless among us very seriously, and toughening our aggravated child abuse law will held accomplish this mission.”

Houston has been successful in efforts to toughen punishments. After a series of alcohol related fatal boating accidents in the circuit, he fought a three-year battle to get the Legislature to toughen the homicide by vessel law.

The law was an unclassified felony, meaning it had a maximum punishment of five years in prison.  The punishment for homicide by vessel law now allows prosecutors to seek the same punishment as cases of DUI related motor vehicle accidents.  That means defendants can be charged with manslaughter or murder in DUI related boating accidents that result in fatalities.

Houston hopes the strengthening of the aggravated child abuse law doesn’t take as much time.

“We are in it for the long haul,” he said.  “If it takes another long fight, we’re dedicated to doing whatever it takes to see this change implemented.”

FL Man Charged With Aggravated Child Abuse

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Christopher Craig “Kodak” Williams

PALM COAST, FL  –  A 22-year-old Palm Coast man was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse Sunday.

Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics were called to an Ethel Lane address in reference to a report of an injured child.

When deputies arrived, witnesses told officials that Christopher Craig “Kodak” Williams picked a child up by his arms, raised him above his head and slammed the child onto a carpeted, concrete floor.

A police report says the child suffered severe head injuries that caused the child to experience seizures.  The report also says the child began bleeding from his right ear as a result of his injuries.

The child was airlifted to Shands Medical Center in Gainesville under a trauma alert.  Officials said the child is in critical but stable condition.

Williams’ bond is set at $10,000.

Child Deaths Unsolved As Autopsies Fall Behind Pt-2 of 2

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Jeremiah Oliver. vanished while under social services supervision

Frustrating state delays

The slow pace of the medical examiner’s office can be frustrating to families and law enforcement officials alike, potentially stalling the criminal justice process indefinitely.

Even in the notorious case of Fitchburg preschooler Jeremiah Oliver — who vanished while under state social service supervision — no cause of death has yet been announced almost two years after his body was found.  Jeremiah’s mother and boyfriend, already charged with assault, kidnapping, and child endangerment, could face murder charges if the medical examiner rules the case a homicide.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.

The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”  In some cases, even a finding of homicide does not prompt action.  The medical examiner ruled that one-year-old Keanu Ramos of Pittsfield died of “blunt trauma” in February 2010 and the Berkshire County district attorney’s office confirmed the investigation is still open almost six years later.

But Keanu’s family said they were never even informed that the child allegedly was a victim of homicide.  “You have shocked me,” said his great-grandmother, Sandra Mills, when a New England Center reporter informed her earlier this year.

She later told her family what she learned and reported back, that they believe his death was natural: “None of us believe it,” she said about the state report.

There’s some indication that state social workers did not know about the medical examiner’s ruling either: DCF didn’t include Ramos on its list of abuse victims.  DCF officials declined to talk about the case, but have said generally that medical examiners have not always alerted the agency when a child’s death was linked to abuse and neglect as required by law.

Felix Browne, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety, said medical examiners are supposed to notify district attorneys and DCF when a death is ruled a homicide.  He would not comment on the Ramos case.

Family members also are waiting for answers in the case of 2-year-old Dean McCullough of Lowell, whose 2010 death was ruled a homicide seven months after his passing, caused by “blunt force trauma of head with injuries to brain,” according to his death certificate.

No charges in five years

McCullough had an open DCF case at the time of his death and the state child protection agency later determined that his death was linked to abuse and neglect, records show.

But five years later, no one has been charged in Dean’s death.  Jennifer Fontes, McCullough’s great aunt, said she is angry and disgusted.  “He is literally just forgotten,” she said.

Medeiros feels her grandson was failed in life and in death.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.  The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”