Fort Mitchell babysitter charged with felony child abuse after shaking two-month-old baby

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comMay 6, 2013 

A woman living in Fort Mitchell, Ala., has been charged with felony child abuse after she was arrested for shaking a 10-week-old girl, according to the Russell County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Heath Taylor said in a press conference Monday that Sherae Reich of 6 Sorghum Court was arrested and charged with felony child abuse after she was questioned in the case of an injured two-month-old baby she had been babysitting.

The events started May 1 at about noon when Reich called the child's mother, an Russell County Emergency Medical Technician, and said that the child was unresponsive. The mother then used an ambulance to respond to the house on Sorghum Court where Reich was babysitting her child, along with children from two other families.

"It had bleeding on the brain and bleeding behind the eyes," Taylor said. "At two-and-a-half months, certainly, we feel like whenever we see that it's going to be from some sort of abuse."

Taylor said Reich was babysitting seven children that day. Four of those children were her own; she is pregnant with her fifth child presently. Reich did not have a babysitting or daycare license at the time of Wednesday's incident.

Reich told investigators she shook the child because she "lost composure."

"I think the evidence will show that she picked the baby up and was shaking the baby trying to get it to stop crying," Taylor said. "She put the baby very forcefully down in the swing or seat it was in. I believe part of the trauma came from that seat as well."

After the injured baby was taken to the hospital Wednesday, she was flown to Atlanta. The mother told Taylor she was able to bring the child home Sunday night. Despite the injuries, the child is expected to make a full recovery.

"I've just spoken to the mother this morning," Taylor said. "There's concerns that potentially some damage that we won't know about until much later as the child continues to process."

Investigators brought Reich into the Sheriff's Office Friday for questioning, where she allegedly admitted to shaking the child more than once. During a prior incident, Taylor said Reich admitted to putting the baby down forcefully on a cushioned couch, which he said he believes caused less trauma than Wednesday afternoon's event.

"This was not the first time that she had had this happen with this child," Taylor said. "That was confirmed by the medical reports that we received from the doctor. While we were talking to the doctor about this case, he stated he could see some old bleeding as well as the fresh blood that had occurred at the most recent event."

Reich was given a $10,000 bond for her charge of felony child abuse Friday. She made bond Saturday at about 7:30 p.m.

Taylor said investigators are examining whether or not the other children in Reich's care, including her own, were subjected to abuse. Since those children's ages ranged between 18 months and seven years, Taylor said any abuse that could have been perpetuated was most likely different than Wednesday's events.

"If there is some type of abuse that she has put on these other kids, it's probably going to be in another form," Taylor said.

Reich may lose custody of her children if convicted of felony child abuse. Taylor said her four children are in her custody presently.

"For us, we're just fortunate that the baby was able to be saved and that there wasn't any more damage to the child," Taylor said. "I can imagine how traumatic that would be — that you leave your child with someone who is supposed to be a daycare type person and all of the sudden your child is unresponsive and having to be flown to a child care facility."

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