Dennis C. Burgher, 30 year-old, charged in the child abuse death of toddler stepson, Elijah Harris. Angela Burgher, 21 year-old gets a ten year prison sentence for neglect of a dependent.

Dennis C. Burgher received a ten year prison sentence for charges stemming from the murder of his stepson. News stories report that on July 24, 2007, Angela Burgher reportedly went to work after hearing a thump and observing her toddler son’s motionless body on the basement floor with her husband standing by him. Afterwards, she received a call that her son was taken to St. Catherine Hospital and transferred to University of Chicago for severe injuries to his brain and abdomen with skin burns located on his penis, buttocks and lower groin area.   

While women are more likely and more frequently to be the abusers, men abuse more severely and are more likely to be sexual abusers. Children under the age of three years old are the most likely victims of abuse, because the toddler stage is a very trying time for parents. Parents with unrealistic expectations and poor coping skills are most at risk for engaging in abusive behavior. Physical abuse is the most overt form of abuse. Physical abuse can result in brain injury, fractured bones, soft tissue injuries, bruises, cuts and burns. Injury to the genital region is indicative of sexual abuse. Neglect of a child is an act of omission or failure to meet the child’s needs, such as poor nutrition, severe malnutrition, failure to thrive and lack of medical attention. Poor hygiene or unsanitary conditions may result in skin infection and injury. Moral neglect exists when parents or caregivers allow a child to remain in environments with immoral and neglectful conditions. The long term affects of child abuse include developmental arrest in developing basic trust and self worth into adulthood.   

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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