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Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly
In Memory of my Loving Husband, William F. Knightly Jr. Murdered by ILLEGAL Palliative Care at a Nashua, NH Hospital

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Westport foster parents charged with assaulting infant

Westport foster parents charged with assaulting infant - Westport News

A Westport couple, the foster parents of four children, are charged with injuring a 6-month-old boy so severely he had bleeding on the brain, as well as endangering the welfare of the other young children.

Debbie DeCarvalho, 42 and Mario Leone, 38, of 1040 Post Road East, surrendered to police Wednesday and were charged with first-degree assault and risk of injury to a child.

DeCarvalho, kennel manager and pet stylist at a pet-grooming business Town House for Dogs and Cats located at her Post Road East address, told police she was the caretaker of the youngsters. She was also charged with four counts of risk of injury to a child.

DeCarvalho was freed after posting $50,000 bond in cash and her husband, Leone, was freed after posting a $25,000 bond in cash. The two are scheduled to appear Jan. 28 in Norwalk Superior Court, but the date will probably be moved to Feb. 3, their lawyer said.

The investigation began when DeCarvalho took the 6-month-old boy to Norwalk Hospital last July 2, saying the infant had a "seizure-like episode," according to her four-page arrest affidavit.

After examining the baby and conducting a CAT scan, doctors discovered the child had bleeding on the brain and a possible skull fracture -- injuries indicative of Shaken Baby Syndrome, the affidavit states.

DeCarvalho's lawyer Vicki Hutchinson said she has not seen any of the medical records or statements from the doctors or witnesses. "At this point I have no comment on any of this," Hutchinson said.

DeCarvalho, who had cared for the baby for three weeks, said the boy's arms went stiff, then lifeless, before he began experiencing breathing problems as she was changing him.

DeCarvalho, who also runs a non-profit dog rescue organization called Tiny Paws Wet Noses, was adamant that the infant had not had a recent fall or experienced blunt trauma to the head.

But when police spoke to Leone -- after initially ruling out a fall -- he said the infant had fallen off the couch. Even though the baby had been with the couple for three weeks, he could not say when the fall occurred, according to the affidavit.

DeCarvalho maintained that the only incident occurred when she found another child in the crib with the baby a week earlier and the infant suffered a bloody mouth.

When staff from the state Department of Children and Families interviewed the other children, they said while DeCarvalho worked at her dog and cat grooming business, she paid little attention to them.

The three said they were left alone watching television during the day while DeCarvalho groomed animals.

DeCarvalho said she checked on the children once an hour and told police that they all knew that if they needed anything all they had to do was hit the intercom button on their baby monitors.

DCF officials have removed three other foster children from the custody of Decarvalho and Leone.

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