It appears that Dad may have had custody of his 8-year-old daughter at the time of this "incident"--though it's not entirely clear. At any rate, he certainly had, at minimum, extensive, unsupervised contact. It is also clear that didn't exactly object when the stepmonster nearly beat his 8-year-old daughter to death, since he will be going to trial in March for beating the girl as well and for not getting her medical care in a timely fashion.
Not explained here at all is why the girl's mother does not currently have custody of her daughter--the father's mother does. So why is this?
8-year-old feared for her life
Girl: 'I thought she was going to kill me'
By AMY AUGUSTINE
January 08, 2010 - 8:11 am
As Cara LeBlanc doled out a nine-hour beating that left her 8-year-old stepdaughter with broken bones and organ damage, one thing went through the girl's mind: "I thought she was going to kill me."
The girl, now 10, sat between her father and mother in the front row of a packed courtroom yesterday as Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler sentenced the 31-year-old LeBlanc to a minimum of six years in state prison.
In a letter read by a victim/witness coordinator for the Merrimack County Attorney's Office, the girl said she was happy to see LeBlanc punished.
"I never want to see her again in my life," Ziva Summers read from the girl's letter. "I hate her."
LeBlanc, formerly of Webster, was arrested in July 2008 and charged with a total of 16 felonies and misdemeanors for severely beating the girl. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to seven charges: two counts each of second-degree assault and simple assault and one count each of criminal restraint, witness tampering and endangering the welfare of a child.
LeBlanc will serve between six and 20 years under a plea deal reached between the state and LeBlanc's attorney before trial, which had been scheduled for Jan. 18.
She was given until yesterday to turn herself in and faced an additional 10 to 20 years in prison if she did not.
The police said LeBlanc repeatedly struck the girl's head against a wood floor, threw her down a flight of stairs and dragged her back up by the hair, tied her to a door before kicking her in the stomach and legs, and locked her in an overheated room for an extended period of time.
The beating left the girl with a broken vertebra and ribs, kidney and liver damage, and bruises covering her body. At the time, the pediatric director at Children's Hospital in Boston said it was one of the worst cases of child abuse he had ever seen, according to the police.
In the letter, the girl recalled the time when a school nurse noticed bruises on her and asked where they came from.
"I told her the truth. Cara told her I was lying," Summers read. The girl's letter added that she was forced to write an apology to her school saying she lied about the bruises. LeBlanc "hasn't had to apologize to me yet."
LeBlanc did not apologize yesterday for the abuse. After the court heard from the girl, her mother and aunt, Smukler asked LeBlanc if she wanted to say anything.
"No, your honor," she said quietly.
The state added an assault charge on top of LeBlanc's 15 original indictments, though 10 to 20 years of that charge will be suspended provided good behavior in prison.
LeBlanc cannot petition the court for a shorter sentence and must complete a batterers counseling program. She can have no contact with the stepdaughter, her son or the other children present when the abuse occurred, said Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Rachel Harrington.
Given LeBlanc's lack of a prior criminal record - she had two previous shoplifting convictions - the state thought a minimum of six years in prison was appropriate, Harrington said. The agreement also spared the victim from having to testify in court, she said.
At yesterday's hearing, the girl's biological mother, Dawn LeBlanc, blamed Cara LeBlanc for breaking up the family and said her actions were unforgivable.
"Did you seriously think you would get away with this forever and walk off free? I still have not seen any remorse from you, no tears, nothing," Dawn LeBlanc said. "Deep down, the only thing you're sorry about is that you were caught."
While Smukler said the sentence was "on the lenient end of the range," LeBlanc's admission of guilt "does have a positive impact on the victims."
LeBlanc served 56 days of pretrial confinement before she was released on $30,000 cash bail in October 2008. It was then revealed she was pregnant with her third child. LeBlanc gave birth to a boy in March, though the state did not disclose the name of the father or say who would care for the child while LeBlanc is incarcerated.
After yesterday's hearing, family friend Kim Allen said LeBlanc's mother, Lea VanTassell, will care for the child. VanTassell declined to speak to a reporter.
LeBlanc and her ex-husband, Daniel LeBlanc, each brought two children into their relationship but had no children together. LeBlanc's oldest daughter lives with her father in Winchester, and her middle son is in foster care. Daniel LeBlanc has two daughters. The oldest is in foster care, while his younger daughter - the victim of LeBlanc's abuse - lives with Daniel LeBlanc's mother.
Daniel LeBlanc has also been charged with three misdemeanors for his alleged role in the abuse. The police said Daniel LeBlanc hit his daughter on the buttocks with a piece of wood and waited two days before seeking medical treatment for the girl after his ex-wife delivered the beating.
Jury selection in Daniel LeBlanc's trial is scheduled to begin March 8, though his attorney, Nicholas Brodich, said yesterday that he hoped to negotiate with the state before then.
"Clearly, we hope to resolve this before trial. It would be ironic if (Daniel LeBlanc's) case went to trial and his ex-wife's did not," Brodich said. "We have faith that we can work something out."
Harrington said her office has not discussed a deal with Daniel LeBlanc but will determine "whether an appropriate agreement can be reached."