Dad MAX A. KLEMAN has been found guilty of causing serious brain damage to his 3-month-old daughter. As a result of Dad's actions, the child has a permanent feeding tube and shunts in her brain to relieve the fluid build-up.
August 27, 2009
FdL man, 25, guilty of causing brain damage to infant child
By Russell Plummer
The Reporter email@example.com
A jury has found a 25-year-old Fond du Lac man guilty of causing brain damage to his 3-month-old daughter.
The victim in the case turned 1 year old on Wednesday, the same day her father, Max A. Kleman, was found guilty of recklessly causing great harm through child abuse.
Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Peter Grimm will sentence Kleman at a date to be scheduled.
He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
On Dec. 15, 2008, authorities were called to the East Second Street home of Kelly Duignan and Kleman for a report of a baby not breathing. Authorities found the child with a heartbeat and shallow breathing, according to the criminal complaint.
Detective Mike Mueller testified that Kleman gave two conflicting stories to police.
Kleman said he gently bounced the child on his knee, the baby went limp, he placed her on the floor and then went to get the mother from a different section of the home, Mueller testified during a preliminary hearing in the case.
Kleman later told Mueller he was carrying the baby without supporting her head and sat down quickly on the couch, causing her head to hit his shoulder bone. Kleman then brought the child in front of him quickly and saw her head snap back, and the child soon went limp, said Mueller.
Fond du Lac County Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Tenerelli said the child has a permanent feeding tube, limited sight and experiences delays.
"She can't sit up, she can't walk, she can't crawl, she can't talk," Tenerelli said. "She has shunts in her brain to release the fluid that builds up around her brain."
Some of Tenerelli's witnesses were Dr. Thomas Valvano, who at the time of the injuries was a child abuse pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin; Ibis Kinnart, a social worker at Children's Hospital; and Duignan.
Valvano expounded on prior statements he made that when the child arrived at the hospital, she was suffering hemorrhaging around the eyes that is only seen in abusive head damage cases and that tests done while saving the child showed the brain damage occurred shortly before the child arrived at the hospital.
Defense attorney Kirk Everson called Dr. John Plunkett, a Minnesota pathologist, to testify the damage suffered by the victim could not be caused by the alleged acts.
Everson did not respond to a call for comments by deadline Wednesday night.
Tenerelli said there is a public misconception that there is a controversy about abusive head trauma cases in the medical community.
"The controversy is in the legal community," Tenerelli said. "It's experts like Dr. Plunkett who go across the country and testify that there is no such thing that makes the controversy. But really, in the medical field, the medical profession — pediatrics (and) critical care specialists — there is such a thing as abusive head injury. They do have the research backing it up. They have seen numerous cases of it."
Tenerelli said Plunkett testified that dozens of doctors agree with him while thousands disagree with his findings.
"Clearly, this jury in Fond du Lac didn't buy Dr. Plunkett's arguments because they found the defendant guilty," Tenerelli said. "I am very happy with that."