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Queens Chronicle

Foster parent charged in toddler’s scalding

19-month-old hospitalized in Manhattan

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

A St. Albans woman is facing up to 25 years in prison after her 19-month-old foster son was found to have been scalded in a bathtub of hot water back in January.

Shirley Verneus, 35, of 203rd Street, was arraigned on June 3 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Donna Golia on charges of first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child, according to a statement issued by the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“As a caregiver with sole responsibility for the life and safety of a young child, the defendant had an obligation to provide a safe environment and to keep him from harm, which she is accused of failing to fulfil in this case,” Brown said. “The child will be permanently scarred — both physically and emotionally — by the experience.”

The Chronicle has chosen to withhold the boy’s name from publication.

Brown said a caseworker at the St. Christopher Ottile Foster Agency in Jamaica allegedly noticed bandages around the boy’s legs on Jan. 17, when Verneus brought him there for a scheduled visit with his biological parents.

Verneus allegedly said at the time that the toddler was in the bathroom unattended with a 3-year-old child when she heard the boy screaming.

She said she entered the bathroom to see the boy sitting in the tub with hot water running and the boy badly hurt.

Verneus allegedly told the caseworker that she had brought the child to a medical clinic, but could not provide any information or documentation of any such visit. She also did not report the incident to the agency.

The child subsequently was brought to the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Burn Unit in Manhattan, suffering second- and third-degree burns from the top of his thighs to the soles of his feet.

Brown said doctors estimated the burns had been untreated for a week to 10 days at the time he was brought in, and that the child will need many surgeries and extensive physical therapy.

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