Thursday, April 21, 2016

Custodial dad, girlfriend charged with starving, abusing 4-year-old daughter; Mom had been blocked from seeing girl for last month (Gilette, Wyoming)

Dad is identified as DALE L. ROBERTS.

Couple accused of child abuse

Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 11:00 am

By News Record Staff publisher Posted on Apr 20, 2016

by Ann Turner

A severely underweight child has been turned over to the Department of Family Services and the couple that had been taking care of her has been charged in Circuit Court with child abuse.

Dale L. Roberts, 39, and Dee C. Jurisch, 38, had their initial appearance Monday in Circuit Court in Gillette. He was released from jail Monday on a personal recognizance bond and she was released Tuesday on a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

A doctor who cared for the girl said that her health problems were caused by malnutrition and that she was so hungry she “would have eaten a ‘plate of dirt’ if it would have been placed in front of her” when she was admitted to the hospital, according to court documents.

Police began investigating March 19 when an emergency room doctor said she suspected that a 4-year-old girl had been abused because 20-25 percent of her body was bruised, including her feet, arms, side and knees. The child also seemed to be malnourished and dehydrated.

A woman who had been asked to baby-sit the girl at her mother’s request noticed that the girl “was eating everything she could get her hands on,” according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

She told police that the child was “skin and bones” and took her to the emergency room. In addition to the bruising, the girl complained of pain in her legs and was reluctant to stand or walk because of pain. She said she had been spanked and thrown on the ground by her father, and that “Mamma Dee,” the woman her father lived with, dragged her and hurt her knees, according to court documents.

Her mother told police that she had not been allowed to see her daughter in more than a month, and when she picked her up March 18 she didn’t even recognize her own daughter.

The child was admitted into Campbell County Memorial Hospital for treatment for malnutrition and suspected abuse.

Four days later, she was getting better, “but was at the bottom of the scale for what is considered a normal growth level (weight and height) for a child her age,” according to court documents.

At that point, a physician had said that all the child’s medical problems were from malnutrition.

She weighed 29.26 pounds, compared to a normal weight of 35.2 pounds at that age, according to the doctor.

“Dr. (Vijaya) Koduri (a pediatrician at Campbell County Health) told me if she would have been given the proper amount of nutrients, she would be at or near a healthy weight with no other medical issues,” Police Detective Robert Hannigan said in the affidavit.

“Dr. Koduri’s opinion was that neglect was the issue and that if she would have remained in the condition she was brought in at, that (the girl) would have died within the month,” according to court documents.

“It was also Dr. Koduri’s opinion that all (the girl’s) medical problems, including the edema in her lower legs, were as a result of malnutrition and not physical abuse,” Hannigan said in the affidavit.

The girl told a forensic interviewer that her dad was mean to her, made her take cold showers and she had to sleep in the hallway.

She said that she was only allowed to drink water while her 3-year-old half-sister got juice, and that the half-sister ate cereal in the morning while the girl watched or sometimes ate bread, according to court documents.

Koduri told police that the girl initially lost weight while under her care because she lost fluid as the swelling in her lower legs — caused by malnutrition and not physical abuse — decreased, according to court documents.

She had gained at least 6 pounds as of April 1 and “appears to be thriving outside the care of Dale Roberts and Dee Jurisch,” according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing has been set for May 3 to see if there is probable cause to bind Roberts and Jurisch over to District Court to stand trial on the felony.

If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.