Custody of injured infant debated

A child protection hearing will be held today; the girl’s father has been jailed.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:11 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

A 2-month-old girl who was brought to University Hospital by her father earlier this month with a skull fracture, two broken arms and three broken ribs will remain in protective custody until at least late August, a circuit judge ordered Monday.

The infant’s father, Shaetwyn Allen, was charged with felony child abuse on Aug. 8 after he brought his daughter, Denim, to the intensive-care unit at University Hospital. Allen, 24, appeared at Monday’s hearing shackled and wearing a county-issued black-and-white-striped jumpsuit and said he is setting up a safety plan with the Department of Social Services to take custody of his daughter.

A child protection hearing in the case is scheduled for today. Allen remained in the Boone County Jail on Monday on a $50,000 bond.

Allen told police that he dropped his daughter Aug. 7 after slipping and falling on a wet floor in his East Forest Avenue home.

Columbia police Capt. Mike Martin said the infant’s injuries were inconsistent with Allen’s statement. Martin said police think the infant’s injuries occurred sometime between when the child broke her upper palate in June and her hospitalization in August. When she was brought to the hospital, the infant was suffering from cranial bleeding, court documents show.

“His account of how these multiple injuries occurred is not consistent with what we saw,” Martin said.

Denim Allen was in good condition Monday at University Hospital.

The infant’s grandmother, Diana Jackson, spoke during Monday’s hearing, demanding to see her granddaughter.

“Who do I talk to?” Jackson asked Circuit Judge Cary Augustine before she broke down in tears. “This is driving me crazy. I just want to see my granddaughter.”

Jackson, who said she believes her son did not cause Denim’s injuries, said she has had difficulty contacting officials from the Department of Social Services regarding her granddaughter.

“(The Department of Social Services) is doing a lousy job,” Jackson said. “It’s been over a week since I’ve seen my granddaughter. This is killing me.”

Deborah Scott, a spokeswoman with the Department of Social Services, said background checks on potential guardians and a home study on the household are performed for any child custody matter. She said criminal charges against a parent factor into the department’s placement.

“A third factor is whether or not the Children’s Division, with the juvenile court, thinks the home is safe, in terms of protection, from the alleged perpetrator,” Scott said.

Scott declined to comment on any of the specifics of Allen’s case but said that in situations when both custodial parents are unable to take care of the child, relatives are considered for potential placement.

The infant’s mother, Lashawnda George, 23, has been contacted in a jail in Ogden, Utah, attorneys said Monday. George is awaiting extradition back to Boone County on a fraud charge filed in June.

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