(New Ulm, MN) – An Evan couple will face multiple child abuse charges after a report of an old injury led to further alleged abuse-related trauma.
Jessica M. Fromm, 26, and Daniel Jason Fromm, 30, were each charged Monday in Brown County Court with felony counts of child neglect, child endangerment, gross misdemeanor child neglect, malicious punishment of a child, and false imprisonment.
Charges filed against the couple say an investigation began in January after a mandated reporter expressed concerns to child protection services about an older upper arm fracture. Daniel – the victim’s stepfather – told investigators he and his wife had been struggling with the child’s behaviors and often leave her in her room until she calms down.
Daniel said the morning the victim’s arm was broken, she had come out of her timeout screaming at her mother, according to the complaint. Daniel explained to investigators he would normally pick the girl up under her arms, but she didn’t lift them up that day. The victim was taken to a walk-in clinic by her stepfather with a supposed muscle injury the complaint says. Both parents assumed the girl was injured by banging into the wall at her home, according to the charges.
Investigators viewed the victim’s room, which contained a mattress on the floor and a blanket, according to the complaint. The couple explained to police that they had to remove all the furniture and closet door knobs to ensure the child’s safety because she bangs on the walls.
According to the complaint, the bedroom doorknob had been switched around to allow locking from the outside. Daniel told investigators that the girl has never escaped the room, but they turned the lock around the night she jumped out of her crib and converted her crib to a daybed. The parents reportedly locked the door at nighttime and when the girl is in a timeout.
Both parents told detectives that their daughter has fits “pretty much all day,” but said the girl’s psychologist suggested locking the door. In a March interview with the psychologist, the doctor said she was not aware of the room locking, nor had the parents disclosed it in the two appointments she had with the victim.
In late January, the child was examined at Midwest Children’s Resource Center. Besides the upper arm fracture, a doctor found she had also suffered a wrist fracture and a diaphyseal fracture in her forearm, according to the complaint. Diaphyseal means both bones of the forearm have been broken.
Medical personnel said it was “highly concerning” for abusive trauma that there were two fractures without a clear history. Magnifying that concern was that her upper arm fracture was displaced, according to the complaint. Court documents said the doctor’s believed the upper arm fracture was not a result of the girl hitting her hands on the door. The doctor also expressed concern about the victim’s weight, noting that she was in the third percentile.
Jessica and Daniel Fromm are both due in Brown County court on May 28th.