A St. Albans woman has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for scalding a 19-month-old boy in a bathtub and subsequently failing for more than a week to get him treatment for second- and third-degree burns.
Shirley Verneus, 37, was convicted in March of first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. She also will receive five years post-release supervision.
“This was a senseless tragedy that easily could have been avoided,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement issued by his office.
“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,” he added. “Instead she stands convicted of having acted in a depraved manner by holding the child in scalding hot water. As a result, the child will be permanently scarred — both physically and emotionally — by that which occurred.”
Doctors at the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Burn Unit in Manhattan said he was burned from his thighs to the soles of his feet, and would require extensive surgery, and that medical evidence indicated the child had been burned at least a week before his injuries were discovered by authorities at the foster care agency that placed him.
It was on Jan. 17, 2014 when Verneus brought the child to the St. Christopher Ottile Foster Agency for a scheduled visit with his biological parents. A case worker noticed bandages around the boy’s legs and asked what happened.
Verneus said he was unattended in the bathroom with a 3-year-old child when she heard him screaming. She said she saw him sitting in the tub, with the water running, and that when she removed him she saw his injuries.
She also said she brought him to a medical clinic but she could neither recall where it was nor provide documentation of any treatment.
She also did not report the incident to the foster care agency.