Harsher Sentences for Child Abusers and Shaken Baby Syndrome
In November of 2004, Adam Carbajal was a perfectly healthy baby. He had just turned one and was starting to walk and talk when he was violently shaken by his mother's boyfriend, Ramon Curiel, Jr.
Adam was rushed to the hospital where doctors had to cut open his head in order to relieve pressure around his brain. They gave Adam a 5% chance of survival. He spent two weeks in a coma and stayed in the hospital for a total of six weeks.
Today, nearly five years later, Adam Carbajal suffers from shaken baby syndrome. He cannot walk or talk due to the injuries he sustained at the hands of his abuser. Ramon Curiel's harsh abuse left Adam with a big scar on his head and almost no chance at a normal life.
Adam suffers from seizures and cannot use his right arm or leg, so he uses his left arm and leg to drag himself around. He grunts when he wants something. His family cannot afford a proper bed for a child with severe disabilities, so Adam sleeps on a mattress on the floor. He will require 24-hour supervision and will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Ramon Curiel will be out of prison in five years.
Details about Adam's case are available in an article titled "Fresno Family Fights for ‘Adam's Law,'" published by the Fresno Bee.
Current sentencing in California for child abuse mandates up to six years in prison. Lawyers originally plea-bargained a single six-year sentence for Curiel, but the judge rejected the agreement. Curiel was eventually sentenced to two terms, one for child abuse and one for inflicting bodily harm. The judge offered him ten years. Curiel accepted the sentence and admitted to his crime, but did not provide details about what, exactly, he did to Adam. With good behavior, Curiel could be out of prison in late 2014.
Adam's case has prompted Assembly Member Mike Villines, R-Clovis, to introduce a new California state law, which would increase sentencing in cases where a child has suffered permanent brain damage or paralysis as a result of child abuse against children under eight years old. Under current law, child abusers may get the same sentence whether they break a child's finger or inflict brain damage and paralysis. Right now, the punishment simply does not fit the crime.
Under the new law, mandatory sentencing would increase to fifteen years to life.
A Democrat-led Public Safety Committee originally shelved the bill until California could reduce costly prison crowding. However, Villines has reintroduced the bill this year and he, along with Adam's family, are hoping to see it passed.
Cases like Adam's cost California taxpayers millions of dollars in medical expenses alone. Hospitals see about 150 children with shaken baby syndrome each year, and the average annual cost is $300,000 per child.
The Keane Law Firm, a California law firm for abused children in California, provides legal counsel to parents and guardians of children who suffer from shaken baby syndrome and other forms of child abuse by filing lawsuits to recover money for survivors of shaken baby syndrome the costs of medical expenses, nursing care, and therapy. For a free copy of our book on helping survivors of shaken baby syndrome, click http://www.shakenbabysyndromeblog.com/
Chris Keane represents little babies in big shaken baby syndrome cases. If you believe that your baby has been shaken, please feel free to contact the Keane Law Firm, and we will answer all of your questions compassionately and professionally for free. 1-888-592-KIDS (1-888-592-5437).