Woman charged with abuse for injuries to infant

April 4, 2019 GMT

The mother of a 7-week-old girl was charged Wednesday with child abuse and neglect after she brought the girl to a hospital last month where the girl was found to have burns, broken ribs and leg fractures that doctors said were caused by abuse, court documents state.

A criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court charged Anne E. Christian, 34, of Madison, with three counts of child abuse with a high probability of causing great bodily harm, along with one count of felony child neglect. The girl’s father, Zachary A. Schenk, 34, was charged with one count of felony child neglect.

Both appeared in court Wednesday, where Christian waived her right to a preliminary hearing. Signature bonds were set for both, but they remain in custody on state Department of Corrections holds.

According to the complaint:

Christian brought the girl to UnityPoint Health-Meriter hospital on March 3, concerned about the baby’s swollen eyes. But while she was there, doctors noticed that the girl had burns on her body, including one that extended from the right side of the girl’s face down to her armpit.

Christian explained to doctors and to police that about a week earlier, while bathing the girl on the floor of the bathroom at her apartment, the girl had kicked and rolled over onto a hot radiator pipe that was at floor level.

Instead of seeking medical attention, Christian said she had been putting an ointment on the burn.

Dr. Barbara Knox, a child abuse specialist at American Family Children’s Hospital, told police that a 7-week-old child could not roll as Christian described, and said the radiator is not what caused the burn.

Schenk told police he saw the burn on the girl but said that after talking with Christian he wasn’t concerned.

Doctors also found that the girl had an umbilical hernia, which Christian said she had first noticed two weeks earlier, and that the girl had a fever and was dehydrated. There was also crusted blood in the girl’s nostrils and burns to her left index finger and thumb.

Doctors also found that the girl had multiple rib fractures in various stages of healing and fractures to both of her legs. Doctors said they believe the fractures were the result of abuse.

Christian said at first she did not know how all of the injuries occurred but later told police that the girl had fallen off a bed. Later still, she told police she had thrown the girl onto a bed twice and had also snatched her up forcefully.

Told that the girl’s leg injuries were likely the result of forceful twisting, Christian told police, “I would not do that. I’m being honest.” She later said she wasn’t saying she didn’t do it, but that she didn’t remember because of periods of extreme depression that cause her brain to “just shut off.”

Christian is currently on probation for being a party to armed robbery, while Schenk is on probation for drug possession with intent to deliver.