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Michigan Woman Charged with First-Degree Child Abuse in Shaken Baby Case

Posted on: November 21, 2009

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Michigan Woman Charged with First-Degree Child Abuse in Shaken Baby Case

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November 20, 2009 by
Marissa Plains

Marissa Plains

Marissa Plains
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18-Year-Old Joy Gutowski Faces 12 to 15 Years

A Manistee, Michigan woman stands accused of first-degree child abuse after doctors say her 3-month-old baby was shaken.
In early September, 18-year-old Joy Gutowski had her infant son taken out of her custody and put into foster care after she took him to the   hospital with suspicious injuries.
Baby’s Injuries Found to be Consistent with Shaking

Gutowski claimed that the baby fell off of the couch when she left it alone in the room for a moment, and landed on its head.

Doctors at Manistee’s West Shore Medical Center reported to Sheriff’s deputies that the child’s injuries, including a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain, were consistent with injuries caused by shaking an infant. The child was transported to the DeVos Children’s Hospital, where a team of specialists performed a second exam and came to the same conclusion.

Allegedly Abusive Mother Loses Custody

The infant, now 5 months old, remains in foster care in the Grand Rapids area. The prosecution reports that he is alive and “recovering.” Gutowski is also the mother of a 1 1/2 year old son, who has also been removed from her custody. The father of the children, 21-year-old Steven Boss of Manistee, is not currently being charged.

Child abuse experts say that the effects of shaking a baby may not be immediate. The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome indicates that while the most sever injuries cause by shaking infants may be noticed immediately, lesser injuries may go unreported and undiagnosed for weeks or months, if noticed at all. The long-term effects of this head trauma can be permanent, taking a toll on motor skills, reflexes, language skills, and more.

While Gutowski maintains that the baby did, indeed fall off of the couch that day, reports from the prosecution indicate that she has admitted to shaking the baby on at least two occasions because he would not stop crying. This on-the-record admission by Gutowski means that the prosecution will likely have an easy time getting a conviction.

If convicted, the felony charges could send Gutowski to prison for as much as 15 years. A preliminary hearing is set for November 25th.

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