Woman Accused of Child Abuse as Unfit Mother Asks for Bail Reduction

By Alice Haoming Yang and Nora Dahl

MODESTO, CA – A pregnant woman—the Vanguard is not identifying her to protect the identity of the children victims—asked for a bail reduction because of her financial difficulties here in Stanislaus County Superior Court last week, but the court disagreed.

The woman is about 13 weeks pregnant, and she claims she wants to receive prenatal care outside of the jail system, noting her husband works part time in landscaping, and the couple receives disability. They also receive food stamps and state financial assistance.

The woman said if the bail were eliminated or reduced, she would be able to at least have the opportunity to try to post bail. She is charged with felony child abuse and drug possession.

However, Deputy District Attorney Sara Souza provides the other side of the story, claiming that no amount of bail would be sufficient in this case.

Souza asserted this pregnant woman should stay in custody because at the time of Child Protective Services’ contact, she tested positive for methamphetamine, alcohol and marijuana. Being in custody cuts off her ability to access those drugs, Souza argued.

This case was referred to CPS when the defendant’s daughter went to the hospital with an injury on her head that required her to get staples, said Souza, noting that when the child arrived at the hospital, she had matted hair as if she had not been bathed in some time.

A follow-up interview with some of the other siblings after school revealed to CPS that all of the children were wearing clothing that was either too big or too small. All of the minors in this case had black dirt and grime caked under their fingernails.

CPS made several attempts to make home visits to ascertain what the condition of the home was. However, the accused and her husband were avoiding CPS, said Souza, adding one of the children told CPS that they had been staying in a motel because they were “on the run.”

The CPS social workers were actually able to make contact with the family in their home on March 3, and immediately upon entering the home, there was a pungent smell. The social worker said the accused walked down the hallway of the home to a bedroom where the children were all sharing one bedroom, and those doors happened to be locked from the outside.

Once the social workers entered the bedroom, there was an immediate overwhelming smell of human urine. The social worker indicated that as soon as she entered the room where the children were being kept, her eyes and her throat immediately began burning.

There was one single mattress on the floor for all the children in the bedroom, said CPS, adding the mattress had no sheets, and it was completely black and extremely dirty from both urine and what appeared to be human feces. All of the children were disheveled and dirty.

There was an 11-month-old baby who was found in a dirty pack in a blanket which was located in the closet of that bedroom, said the worker. And when social workers initially viewed the baby, there was a blanket covering her nose and her mouth, they said.

The baby was so still and pale that the social workers thought upon initial contact that she might have been deceased. The social worker learned that the baby was dehydrated when they got to the hospital.

In addition, said CPS, the hallways of the home were soaked with urine. Apparently one of the toilets had overflowed weeks before.

Both the social worker and the law enforcement officers indicated in the report that they had to use physical force to lift their feet from the ground because that’s how sticky the floor was in the home.

When the children were being prepared to be transported to Doctors Medical Center, the accused was not able to provide adequate clothing for their children to be transported in the middle of the night.

Once they arrived at the hospital and the children were examined further, three children had severe diaper rashes. One of the children’s diapers was so soaked with urine that it was causing her to walk bow legged and she indicated to the workers that she was in physical pain.

Another child was missing a tooth and had two other teeth that were loose and ready to fall out due to lack of dental care, said CPS.

The accused also has a prior 2011 arrest. In this case, when her daughter was 15 months old, she was rushed to the hospital because she was having seizures and it turned out she was overdosing on methamphetamine.

Based on these facts, Souza said believes that the defendant appears to be a danger to her children as well as a danger to society, and asked her bail to remain set as no bail.

Judge Reeves found the accused is a danger to the victims in the case, and she is not safe to release without conditions, given the facts and the criminal history described in court.

Judge Reeves set the bail amount to $150,000 with conditions, including the accused must comply with the criminal protective orders that are already in place that require no contact with any of the alleged victims in the case.

She is also ordered to submit to search for controlled substances and to obey all laws including not possessing any controlled substances without a valid prescription. The accused has to have no new law violations while the case is pending.

About The Author

Nora Dahl is a second year History of Public Policy and Law major, and English minor, at UC Santa Barbara. She enjoys writing, advocating for social justice, and pyschology. Nora speaks fluent Norwegian and English. She plans to graduate Spring 2024, and hopes to attend law school.

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