A Spring Township day care provider will spend at least 10 years in jail for an assault that almost killed a 5-month-old child.
“This is one of the worst incidents of child abuse I have seen in my 18 years on the bench,” Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford told Jalene McClure, 40, as he sentenced her to 10-20 years in prison.
McClure was convicted in September of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child for the August 2010 incident in which the baby’s skull was fractured and she suffered a subdural hematoma, brain-cell damage and severe retinal hemorrhaging.
Lunsford walked through the timeline of events after hearing sentencing arguments from the prosecution and defense on sentence.
“I think we can all agree when you woke up that morning, you didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” he said. But then something happened.
McClure’s eventual version of events — that the injuries were sustained when she tripped while carrying the child — do not correspond with medical evaluations of the baby’s condition. For Lunsford, perhaps more than how the injuries occurred, however, the issue was about what happened afterward.
“You had many opportunities to mitigate,” he said.
Instead, when the baby was hurt, no one was called for help. When the mother arrived at the end of the workday to pick the child up, she was not told that anything had happened. The lump on the infant’s head was hidden, and the mother’s concerns dismissed. When the parents took her to the hospital and doctors needed information about what had happened, she told them nothing.
“There was a point that day when the parents were told they needed to say goodbye to their child,” Lunsford said. It was still days before McClure admitted anything.
“This was a deliberate, vicious act,” said Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, calling for a harsh sentence that took the defenselessness of the victim into account.
Today, the baby is a little girl, but her parents say the injuries follow her, just like the care she will need throughout her childhood. She knows what happened.
Her mother told the judge the victim will sometimes ask “Why me? Did I do something wrong?” The parents have the same lingering doubts, but Lunsford tried to dismiss them.
“You need to stop that. You did nothing wrong. That’s an order,” he told the tearful mother.