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January 21, 2005

Examiner: Injuries 'classic child abuse'

January 21, 2005 [Charlotte Observer]
Affidavit said suspect in toddler's death gave conflicting accounts
By Lena Warmack, Staff Writer

A state medical examiner told police that injuries to 22-month-old Alexander Johnson Christmas were "classic child abuse injury," according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a Concord detective after the child's death.

The search warrant application was prompted partly by reports from witnesses who told police they had heard someone took out a life insurance policy on the boy before he died Jan. 2.

Police said Thursday that the search failed to turn up such a policy. But the affidavit says Trevor Lawrence Brown, 21, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with Alexander's death, gave police different accounts of how the toddler was injured.

Detective J.C. Tierney, who applied for the warrant, also said Brown told a friend several weeks before Alexander died that the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services was blaming him for injuries to the child, according to the affidavit.

A magistrate issued the warrant Jan. 6, the day after Brown was indicted.

Alexander lived with Brown, 21, Johnson, 36, and her 9-year-old daughter at Johnson's Concord apartment. Police said Alexander's 9-year-old sister was not injured. She is in foster care now.

According to the affidavit, Dr. Michael Sullivan of the N.C. Medical Examiner's Office told detectives that Alexander died after a penetrating blow to his abdomen by either a kick or a punch.

Sullivan told police Alexander's injuries were "classic child abuse injury," the affidavit said.

In the affidavit, Tierney gave the following account of police interviews with Johnson, Brown and several friends and neighbors of each:

Johnson told police that while she was at work Jan. 1, Brown called her and told her Alexander was throwing up.

In an interview Jan. 2, Brown told police he had tripped over Alexander and accidentally fallen on his stomach a few days before he died, according to the affidavit.

But in an interview Jan. 4, Brown told detectives that on Jan. 1, the day before Alexander died, he was "upset with some of the things that were going on" between him and Johnson. Brown "had Alex in his hands and his mind slipped a little," according to the affidavit.

In that interview, Brown told police he threw Alexander into a couch, aiming for the pillows, but misjudged, and Alexander hit the armrest, according to the affidavit.

"He then started playing horsey with Alex and accidentally dropped Alex on (Brown's) knee hard," Tierney wrote in the affidavit. Brown said Alexander landed on his knee stomach-first, according to the affidavit.

When Johnson returned home that night, she told police, Alexander looked sick. Every time he tried to drink water, he would vomit. He would not eat, and he vomited often throughout the night, according to the affidavit.

Johnson fell asleep beside Alexander about 5 a.m., according to the affidavit. When she awoke about 8 a.m., she found Alexander unresponsive and called 911, she told police.

A neighbor told detectives that Johnson told her she had asked Alexander, "What happened to you? Did Trevor do this to you?" and Alexander said yes, according to the affidavit.

Johnson declined to comment for this story. Brown is being held without bail in the Cabarrus County jail.

Cabarrus DSS Director Jim Cook said social workers had not known that Brown had significant involvement with the family.

Before Alexander died, medical providers had told DSS about three injuries to Alexander, one in mid-November and two in December, Cook said.

Keith Christmas, 46, the boy's father, said the toddler suffered several injuries since mid-November, including a sewing needle lodged in his buttocks, cuts under his left eye and inside his lip, and a bed falling on his hands.

"... Our assessment of the injuries that the child had received prior to his death ... was that we had an active child for whom (the lack of) supervision and childproofing of the house would have been the likely cause of the injuries that we saw," Cook said.

Posted by Nancy at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Child Abuse Expert Can Testify in Jackson Case

January 21, 2005 [Reuters]
By Dan Whitcomb

Santa Maria, Calif. (Reuters) - Prosecutors can call a child abuse expert to testify at Michael Jackson (news)'s molestation trial, a judge ruled on Friday, even as the defense claimed that the pop star's young accuser was a liar.

Jackson's lead attorney, Tom Mesereau, argued that the expert should not be allowed to tell jurors about the effects of child molestation if the 15-year-old boy and his family were making up the sex abuse in court.

"What if they are flat-out liars?" Mesereau asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville during a pretrial hearing in the case in the central California town of Santa Maria. "They have a history of lying in school ... and lying in the community."

He added that the defense intended to argue that the boy and his siblings were lying to win money from Jackson and that the child abuse expert would be used by prosecutors to paper over holes in their testimony.

"What if the court says 'this case is ridiculous?" Mesereau said. "These people have no credibility at all."

Prosecutors want the expert, whom they did not name in court, to testify that child victims often wait to report abuse, are reluctant to confide in those closest to them, give piecemeal accounts and retain an affection for their abuser.

They have asked that the courtroom be closed when Jackson's accuser takes the witness stand. Melville has not yet ruled on that request.

Melville said on Thursday that he would summon 750 possible jurors to his courtroom over three days beginning on Jan. 31, and would give questionnaires to those who can serve on a trial that is expected to last up to six months.

Lawyers would then scrutinize the questionnaires, which have not been made public, before formal jury selection begins the following week.

Jury selection is expected to take at least several weeks, which means opening statements in the sensational case would not likely begin before March. Some 80 news organizations from the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany, Mexico and elsewhere have applied for seats in court or in a special overflow room.

Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and with conspiracy. The 46-year-old entertainer has pleaded not guilty.

Posted by Nancy at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

Judge to review scope, cost of diocese child abuse audit

Jan. 21, 2005 [The Telegraph]
By Albert McKeon

MANCHESTER - A judge will try to breathe life into the stalled state review of child protection policies implemented by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester in the wake of the clergy abuse crisis.

On Thursday, the church and the state presented varying interpretations of the historic criminal agreement that both sides entered two years ago, demonstrating in a courtroom that differences essentially arise on the scope and cost of the audit.

The biggest sticking point is the extent to which the state can review the diocese’s abuse policies. Prosecutors want to interview anyone who will use the diocese’s procedures, but church officials claim that process crosses a constitutional boundary.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Carol Conboy took the case under consideration, and urged the two parties to negotiate privately in the meantime. Conboy also offered to mediate any relevant issue as she prepared a decision.

Representatives for the state attorney general’s office and the diocese openly expressed a desire to keep the pact relevant. They both spoke of making the protection of children a paramount goal.

The diocese’s attorney, David Vicinanzo, told Conboy the church would consent to an immediate review of abuse policies. Prosecutors, though, replied that the diocese’s audit terms prevent any meaningful review of those policies.

In signing the criminal agreement in December 2002, Bishop John McCormack acknowledged that diocesan officials could have faced charges for endangering children through their handling of abusive priests. The diocese accepted an annual state audit for five years.

The state, though, has not conducted an audit. Tuesday’s oral arguments exhibited the divide on the scope of such a review.

State prosecutors asked the court to approve an audit that can question active parishioners - those who work or volunteer for the church - on the effectiveness of the diocesan child protection program. To gauge the efficiency of the diocesan policy, prosecutors must pose direct questions to the people who would use it, and not limit an audit to a less extensive review, said state Assistant Attorney General Ann Larney.

“If the policies and procedures don’t work, if it looks good only on paper . . . where are we? We’re back to 2002,” Larney said.

But Vicinanzo argued that the state’s audit proposal is open-ended, and that it veers from the agreement’s original terms: prosecutors measuring only compliance. To that end, the diocese has implemented a system that reports abuse to the state, and it has shared all policies and paperwork, he said.

Vicinanzo cited federal constitutional protections in trying to stop the state from potentially asking questions that he said would measure parishioners’ perceptions of the church’s handling of abuse claims.

“It should be narrow, and not have changing terms by the state,” he said of a proposed audit. “The perceptions and opinions of parishioners inserts the state right into the middle of parishioners (and) church leaders.”

Larney, though, argued that the audit would not ask questions of a religious nature, meaning the diocese’s First Amendment argument does not apply. She also suggested the diocese waived any constitutional protection by signing the agreement.

The audit’s scope would have a narrow, secular focus so that prosecutors can determine if church personnel have a firm grasp of diocesan abuse policies, she said.

“The diocese entered into the agreement to prevent abuse. The church is not immune” to criminal review under the law, Larney said.

An attorney who said he represented a group of Catholics and some abuse victims also addressed the court. David Braiterman focused on the church’s past handling of abuse in more striking language than prosecutors did, and he urged Conboy to hold the diocese accountable to the agreement it signed.

Most of the abuse allegations investigated by prosecutors occurred decades ago. Vicinanzo said he objected to the state recently claiming the diocese had allowed the abuse of minors for four decades. Rather, almost every document shows the abuse transpired in a previous generation, he said, suggesting current church leadership has complied with state law.

Conboy will also try to reconcile the argument over the audit’s estimated $445,000 cost. Both sides acknowledge the criminal agreement does not specify who should pay for the review. The church wants the state to shoulder the cost, but the state has recently offered to pay as much as half.

Posted by Nancy at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

DCS announces new child abuse reporting hotline

January 21, 2005 [Star Gazette]
By Terra Temple

It was September 2002 when the Tennessee Department of Children's Services began a new method of reporting child abuse and neglect.

Three years later, that method is making its way across the state.

It will take effect in Northwest Tennessee at midnight Jan. 25.

Now, those referrals in Dyer, Lake, Crockett, Obion, Gibson, Weakley, Benton, Carroll and Henry counties will be made by calling the toll-free number 1-877-237-0004.

That number connects the caller to the Central Intake Unit in Nashville where the call is screened, the decision to assign to the proper county is made and its priority is given.

"Up until this point, we did all of that," said Phyllis Webb, team leader for the Child Protective Services Unit of the DCS office in Dyer County. "Now when it gets here, it will be assigned to an investigator."

Northwest Tennessee is among the last places the CI method has been implemented. DCS hopes to have it statewide by the end of March.

The new process, explained Dianne Mangrum, who became director of Central Intake in January, cuts down on the paperwork done at local offices, giving investigators more time to work on their cases. It also provides the state a way to have a central database system.

When a call comes to CI, the operator asks a number of questions about the situation -- the child's name, age, address, grade and school attended, the parents' names and address and "all the information you can give in regard to the abuse or neglect," Webb said. "The people taking the referral have key questions. You need to provide as much information as you can -- who is doing what -- about the situation. They need all the information possible so they'll know what priority to assign and so we'll know what questions to ask when we get there and so we'll know what to look for."

From the referral given, CI, which through the database can quickly see the past history of the situation, takes the information, filter it through the DCS criteria, assigns it a priority and sends it on to the appropriate office.

"The only thing changing is the number and the way we get it," Webb said of the procedure.

For priority to CI, law enforcement and medical personnel have a separate phone number. However, "in a dire situation, a true emergency, law enforcement can still call DCS directly and we'll let CI know," Webb said. "If law enforcement calls and needs us, we'll go.

Child Protective Services is a unit of the Department of Children's Services. DCS in Dyersburg covers Dyer, Obion, Lake and Crockett counties. Its CPS unit investigates referrals in Dyer and Crockett counties.

CPS reviews reports of abuse and neglect, investigating those reports for 60 days and determining the child's safety.

Webb said they receive approximately 75 to 100 calls a month for Dyer and Crockett counties.

"Those that we screen have to meet criteria for investigation," she said.

That criteria "is lengthy" but depends on three main components -- the situation, the past history and child's age. "If they're 3 and under, we (investigate) no matter what," Webb said.

Cases are assigned a priority number. Priority 1 means the case will be investigated within that day. Priority 2 means it will be investigated within 24 hours. Priority 3 means it will be investigated within five days. All sex-abuse cases are Priority 1.

Once the case is assigned and investigated by CPS, three things can happen:

-- If there is no safety issue, the case is closed.

-- If there is, it then goes to targeted case management where ongoing case managers work on the issues that need to be addressed.

-- If the safety risk is great, the child is removed from the home and then goes to the foster care unit of DCS.

"Our work is short term but it's very intense working within the home," Webb said.

Mangrum noted that investigation process is left to the local level.

"Once we process the referral, we're through," she said. "CI can't assign a case if it doesn't fit the criteria. If there's a disagreement (with CPS), the decision can be revisited. We're there to protect the children and help families."

In the long run, Webb believes the new decision process "will be beneficial. We had a three-prong process here (regionally) as a safety net," Webb said.

But if there are concerns, "there is a process we can discuss the priority (assigned)," she said. "We've done this for so many years and know those we deal with and they know us. Those are the kinds of things that can be worked out."

Central Intake provides the public with a single phone number to report suspected abuse and neglect of children, consolidating and centralizing reports.

DCS began using CI in September 2002 in a pilot program in three regions -- Shelby County, south central and southeast -- operating Monday through Friday. In January 2003, it went 24/7.

Thirteen months later, Davidson County was added. In August 2004, the rest of East Tennessee was added and "calls escalated and went through the roof," Mangrum said. "We find that when we take on a new region, we get more calls than that region ever recorded. As a result, the caseloads go up."

Northwest and Southwest Tennessee were added in January. Knox County and Northeast Tennessee will be added in February. The rest of the state, Hamilton County and the Mid-Cumberland region, will be added by March 31.

"We want people to understand that we're here to help the local (DCS) office protect the children and not be a burden," Mangrum said, noting that almost all CI supervisors have a CPS background and that calls are recorded for quality assurance.

While secretaries took referrals at the Dyersburg office, in many areas the investigators take them. Mangrum noted that by DCS going to CI, it takes that much more paperwork off them.

"When a call's received, the first is decision is by a background check," Mangrum said. "The supervisor will know the number of the reference called in and can see when the case was opened and how many times we've been involved on that child. That takes the people in the local offices a long, long time to do. This will save time in the end when the case is assigned. There's a lot of paperwork that goes with a referral and by taking the reference process off the counties, they're able to do their business -- seeing children instead of having to do a lot of paperwork."

The local DCS office has been aware of the change for a year. Mangrum and other CI representatives came to Dyersburg in mid-December to explain the new process to those working in the field -- school counselors, law enforcement, judges, attorneys, youth workers, etc.

"We found that when we go into a community there are a lot of fears and concerns of calling people that you don't know," Mangrum told them. "We're not taking away from your relationship with local people here. We have the historical data but the information that you have can't be captured in every record. We want to do what we can to protect children. You know what is best for the community and the families you work with."

For emergency cases, calls can still be made to the local office.

"Through the pilot program, we learned in truly emergency situations there's no sense in calling CI, that the local CPS should be called," Mangrum said. "We know that in the time of a crisis situation, time is of the essence. The paperwork can wait. Even if we were called in an emergency situation, we'd get someone out there ASAP."

Calls about child abuse/neglect from the general public can still be made anonymously. Walk-ins can also still come to the DCS office to make a referral; those workers can call CI and help the person file the information. If requested, CI will give notification reports about the case's assignment to the person making the referral.

"It takes a lot of guts for people to make referrals, especially those who aren't in the profession," Mangrum said.

CI operates 24/7 and so far has received approximately 350 calls a day.

"You'll always get a live person when you call," Mangrum said. "If the computers go down, that will do nothing to the quality of calls. We'll go to paper and pencil, call the county and when it comes back up, put it in the system. We're not waiting until it comes up to protect children."

When those referrals come after hours, a paging system is activated until the investigator is contacted.

"They have backups until they get somebody," Webb said. "They'll tell them the situation orally and then send the electronic report the next day."

Webb said from what she's heard from other areas, the response to CI is mixed.

"People always have concerns about changes," she said. "This is the process we've been given and we'll do the best we can with it. I'm sure it will be fine; it'll just take getting used to."

And that is something CI representatives understand.

"We want this to succeed and be good for the community," Mangrum said.

More information about reporting child abuse/neglect and DCS is available at www.state.tn.us/youth/cps/index.htm

Posted by Nancy at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

New office helps child abuse victims

January 21, 2005

Valdosta, GA - Victims of child abuse and trauma now have a new place to get help.

The Children's Advocacy Center opened a new and improved office this week. The facility, located on West Moore Street, is about 4,000 square feet and double the size of their old office.

There's a large intake area, therapy clinic, board room, and private interview rooms. "We have several entrances and exits, so if you're coming for a board meeting you can come in one way and leave that same saw and never go to the lobby and if you're coming for therapy you can come in a separate door, go to the therapist office and never see the other people," said Laura Bajalia, Director.

The building is being paid for with donations and money raised during the center's capital campaign.

Posted by Nancy at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

66-year-old man gets five years in prison for sex abuse

January 21, 2005 [Daily Progress]
By Kate Andrews, staff writer

PALMYRA - A 66-year-old Troy man will serve five years in prison in a child sex abuse case that ended in a plea agreement Thursday.

Curtis Oneal Minor entered an Alford plea in Fluvanna County Circuit Court, denying guilt but acknowledging overwhelming evidence against him.

He received a 25-year sentence, with all but five years suspended.

Minor entered pleas for two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of carnal knowledge of a child, both felonies.

“Obviously, I don’t think five years is enough for that act,” Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip said, “but this case was different from your average case.”

Haislip declined to discuss details of the agreement, but acknowledged that Minor’s age and poor health were considerations.

In October, Minor pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated sexual battery, proposing a sex act to a child and forcible sodomy with a child. Those charges were dropped Jan. 6.

In Thursday’s case, Minor had been charged with eight more counts of forcible sodomy involving the first victim’s sister. Four of the sodomy charges were later downgraded to carnal knowledge of a child, and two others were changed to aggravated sexual battery. The plea agreement was reached Tuesday, according to the court clerk’s office.

A third, older sister was expected to testify about Minor’s past alleged sexual misconduct with her.

“I’m never happy when somebody goes to prison, but it’s something he thought he had to do,” said Mike Caudill, Minor’s attorney. “He’ll be all right.”

Minor faced, at minimum, a 28-year sentence if found guilty, Caudill said. “All in all, it worked out for him.”

He will be credited for time served at Central Virginia Regional Jail and will remain there until he is assigned to a state prison, Haislip said.

Posted by Nancy at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

Part-time music teacher to face sex abuse charges

ST. PAUL -- A man who taught music part-time at St. Paul Elementary school faces sex abuse charges this morning.

He turned himself into Marion County deputies earlier this week. He's charged with five counts of sexually abusing a child.

The child is someone who lives in his home in St. Paul.

The superintendent of the school district says he does not think any of the students were abused because he was always supervised.

Bruce Shull St. Paul Superintendent said the school was devastated by the news, and is waiting the hear the outcome.

Posted by Nancy at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Child abuse on the rise

January 21, 2005 [Northern Territory News] Australia
By Rebecca Hewett

The NT has the second-highest rate of child abuse in the country with substantiated cases leaping 60 per cent in the past year, a national study has found.

The study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found the number of cases in the NT increased from 327 in the 12 months from 2002-03 to 527 in 2003-04 year -- Australia's second-highest rate per 1000 children.

Queensland had the highest rate, with 14 children per 1000 affected.

In the NT, the rate was 8.7 children per 1000.

But the NT had the highest number of children on protection orders -- 5.8 per 1000 compared to 5.4 in Tasmania.

The number of reported but not substantiated abuse cases increased by 25 per cent in 2003-04.

The study defined child abuse as neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Spokesman for the Family and Community Services Advisory Council Barry Hansen said the jump could be due to many factors.

"It could be that there has been a genuine increase in actual cases, or there could simply have been an increase in reporting because there's greater attention on it now," Mr Hansen said.

"Thirdly it could be an aberration. But no increase in substantiated cases is desirable," he said.

The NT was unusual in that most children involved in substantiated cases of child abuse came from two parent families.

In Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory most were from single parent families.

Physical abuse was the most common form of child abuse in the NT, accounting for 38 per cent of substantiated cases, where emotional abuse and neglect figured highly in other states and territories.

The study found children aged one to four were most likely to be taken into care in the NT.

Girls were more vulnerable than boys, with 191 girls placed under care and protection orders in 2003-04 compared to 153 boys.

Police were the group most likely to report abuse.

Posted by Nancy at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

Chilling account of abuse

Dad's narrative tells of repeated violence that led to a girl's death
January 20, 2005 Ruth Rendon [Houston Chronicle]

LEAGUE CITY - A couple of hours after taking his unconscious 2-year-old daughter to a hospital, Frank Padilla calmly and methodically demonstrated to a police detective how he hit the child in the stomach with a closed fist because she wet her pants.

In a 45-minute videotaped interview the evening of Aug. 8, 2003, Padilla sat slumped in a conference-room chair recalling the events that led to the eventual death of Linda Gloria Padilla.

"I need to know how it is your little girl ended up in the hospital," League City police Detective Marty Grant told Padilla under questioning at the League City Police Department. "The little girl can't tell us or the doctors what's wrong with her. Her little body is screaming what has been done to her."

At first, Padilla said the child had suffered a large bruise on her forehead after she fell off a kitchen counter as he tried to wash her hands a couple of weeks earlier.

In the taped interview, which was to be the focal point of Padilla's capital murder trial next month, the man then admitted to punching his daughter in the stomach, slapping her on the face and head and sexually assaulting her.

Padilla, 46, pleaded guilty earlier this month to capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault and was assessed three life sentences. He likely will serve 70 years before being eligible for parole. He could have faced the death penalty had he gone to trial and been convicted.

Linda Padilla's death highlighted flaws in a state child-abuse hot line system. Two months before the girl died, a pizza delivery man called the hot line after seeing the little girl with a black eye. Frank Padilla was trying to hide her from the deliveryman when he brought a pizza to the family's League City apartment, the deliveryman said.

After hitting her two to three times in the stomach, Padilla said he got scared and drove his daughter to Christus St. John Hospital in Nassau Bay. She later was transferred to Memorial Hermann Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. The girl died Aug. 13 after being taken off life support.

An autopsy showed she had a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull and bruises all over her body.

While at the hospital, Padilla patiently waited his turn for care while he held the girl as if she were sleeping against his shoulder, an emergency-room doctor told the Chronicle. It wasn't until he answered all of the admitting nurses' questions and placed his daughter on a scale to weigh her that hospital personnel realized the severity of the girl's injuries.

During the interview with police, Padilla never asked how his daughter was doing.

"Just be honest," Grant encouraged Padilla while questioning him.

With his arms folded, Padilla told Grant that the girl's lack of ability to control her bladder would sometimes cause him to lose his temper.

"I've been trying to train her for months," he said. "Sometimes I spank her. I don't intend to hurt her."

While being prodded by Grant, Padilla acknowledged that he would hit the child with his hand and leave his handprint on the girl's bottom. Padilla, however, said he was not sure whether her bruises were the result of his hitting her.

'I lose my temper'

At one point in the interview, Padilla said he needed help. "I need to control my temper. I lose my temper with my daughter."

Then Padilla told Grant how he jabbed the girl after she urinated on herself the afternoon of Aug. 8.

"I punched her a couple of times in the stomach," he said. "But I didn't think it would cause any problems. She'd been crying all day. She peed and didn't tell us. I got mad."

Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he had hit his daughter. With a closed fist, Padilla slammed his fist on the conference room table, causing it to bounce. Throughout the interview, Grant asked Padilla to demonstrate how hard he hit the girl, and each time he slammed the table. Each time the table bounced.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, Grant asked Padilla to rank his anger when he struck his daughter. The man rated himself at a 7.

Padilla said after he punched his daughter in the stomach, the girl vomited and fell over.

An autopsy conducted on the child would show that the punches to her stomach broke her ribs, Grant said.

"I didn't mean to hurt her in any way," Padilla said.

During the violent abuse that day, the girl's mother, Magdalena Padilla, 33, was working at a Wal-Mart in Kemah. She is charged with injury to a child by omission. No trial date has been set although prosecutors expect to resolve the case by year's end.

Grant asked Padilla whether his daughter was scared. His response: "Probably."

Padilla also divulged that he had slapped his daughter on the face and the side of the head after she wet her panties.

With the same force he demonstrated with a closed fist, Padilla slammed his open hand on the table to show how hard he had slapped the girl about seven or eight times. The slapping gave the girl two black eyes, Grant said.

At one point in the interview, Grant, the father of two young children, left the room. The veteran officer said he had to calm down. Officers watching the interview in another room along with Grant went through stress debriefing after the interview.

"It was hard on us. It still is," Grant said.

Grant said among the child's injuries was a footprint from her father on the small of her back. The force caused the child's pelvis to break, he said. "He basically stomped her."

The child also had signs of being shaken based on the severe hemorrhaging in her eyes, Grant said.

Treatment became rougher

After Grant re-entered the conference room, Padilla said, "I didn't intend to do anything. I thought she was passed out because she was tired. The last two weeks I've been rougher than I used to.

"I know I'm a little rougher than I should," he said. "Every time this happens, it gets worse. I think about it, but at the same time I have anger inside of me and I wanted to release it. I really lost my temper for real this time. When I saw she wasn't waking up, I said, 'Come on, baby. Wake up. Don't do this to me.' "

Padilla has three children from a previous marriage. They live with his ex-wife.

He said he wanted Linda Padilla to have a normal life.

"I'm not a child abuser or a child molester," he said. "I was always trying to be a good father."

Posted by Nancy at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

Interviews show aides complained repeatedly about alleged abuse

January 21, 2005 [Associated Press]

SANFORD, Fla. - Teacher's aides at a central Florida middle school complained several times over five years that a special needs teacher was abusing autistic students, an investigator's interviews showed.

The four aides told John Byerly, a Seminole County school district investigator, that they saw incidents of abuse and reported several to administrators at South Seminole Middle School. But their complaints about veteran teacher Kathleen Garrett, 48, seemed to be ignored, the aides said.

"It was only my word against hers and nothing was done, so I stopped saying anything about it," said Sabrina Mort, an aide in Garrett's room for three years.

Garrett, 48, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of child abuse, for which she faces up to 75 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested in November after Mort and another aide in the classroom made one more try and complained to Robin Dehlinger, the school's new principal. Dehlinger called authorities.

The charges against Garrett include breaking one student's teeth, locking another in a dark closet, and abusing three others by hitting them, bending back their fingers and jabbing them with her elbows.

Garrett has resigned, and the Florida Department of Education is investigating whether to revoke her teaching certificate.

The four aides were suspended with pay pending an investigation, which is ongoing.

Posted by Nancy at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)