United States: pair charged with ‘horrific’ child abuse of infant

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NORRISTOWN — Described by authorities as a “horrific” case of alleged child abuse and neglect, an Abington woman and her ex-boyfriend face various charges in connection with the “violent trauma” suffered by an infant boy in their care.

Colleen Melissa Miller, 31, allegedly left the child, for whom she was caring, alone with her former boyfriend, John Matthew O’Neill, even though she had a protection order against O’Neill, and then didn’t seek immediate medical care for the child when she returned home from a night of drinking and discovered the child suffered serious injuries, allegedly at the hands of O’Neill.

“At no time did she call the police or emergency medical personnel for help with (the child’s) condition, nor did she make any attempt to take (the child) to the hospital,” Abington Detective Michael Begley alleged in a criminal complaint.

Miller waived her arraignment in Montgomery County Court this week and pleaded not guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the August incident.

Miller remains free on $50,000 bail while awaiting trial on the charges.

O’Neill, 33, of Abington, is awaiting a Nov. 2 arraignment on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault of a child, reckless endangerment, child endangerment and simple and aggravated assault in connection with his alleged contact with the 7-month-old child.

O’Neill, who remains in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bail, allegedly gave conflicting statements to detectives about the cause of injuries to the child, including claiming a pet cat caused the injuries or that the child fell against a bathtub fixture during bathing, according to the arrest affidavit.

“O’Neill admits being the sole caretaker of (the child) prior to and during the time where (the child) received his injuries,” Begley alleged in the criminal complaint.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman, who leads the district attorney’s sex crimes prosecution division.

The investigation determined Miller, at about 10 p.m. Aug. 12, allowed O’Neill, her ex-boyfriend, to come to her home, even though she had a valid protection from abuse order that prohibited O’Neill from being at her residence, and asked him to stay with the child that was in her care while she went out with her new boyfriend, court papers indicate.

Miller allegedly returned home at 3 a.m. Aug. 13. After a brief discussion during which O’Neill allegedly stated the child was “fine,” Miller asked O’Neill to leave the residence. As O’Neill left he allegedly stated to Miller, “There’s blood in the trash can, it’s from me,” according to the arrest affidavit.

When Miller checked on the child she noticed blood on the bedding. “She also found blood throughout other areas of the house. Miller found blood splatter, bloody diapers, towels, sheets and baby wipes,” Begley alleged, adding Miller noticed something unusual about the child’s anal area while removing the child’s diaper.

At about 4:40 a.m. Miller allegedly sent a text message to a relative stating, “You need to come, what I have to show you is not good,” according to the arrest affidavit. However, even after Miller couldn’t reach her relative, Miller did not call for medical assistance for the child, authorities alleged.

Miller’s relative, retrieving the message about six hours later, rushed to her home at 10:45 a.m. and found the child “unresponsive but breathing,” and noticed the child’s anal injuries and bruising to both sides of his head at his temples and under his jaw, according to the criminal complaint. Miller’s relative rushed the child to Abington Memorial Hospital.

Due to the child’s critical condition, the little boy was transported to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where doctors diagnosed the injuries to the child’s anus as “violent trauma,” including perforation of the intestines, according to the criminal complaint.

The child underwent emergency surgery for what doctors described as “horrific injuries to the anus area,” which were life-threatening, according to court documents.

When authorities took O’Neill into custody, they discovered what appeared to be a blood “splatter mark” on the top of his right shoe, according to the arrest affidavit.

By Carl Hessler Jr., chessler@journalregister.com

Source: The Mercury