Mother's Nightmare: Sitter Abuses 2 Girls

July 30, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

With her 4-year-old daughter recovering from a beating apparently delivered by a live-in baby sitter, a Pasadena woman got some more bad news -- her 11-year-old daughter was sexually abused by the same man in a neighborhood game called "Truth or Dare."

The game started with five or six neighborhood youths kissing each other but later included sex acts involving the 11-year-old, the 18-year-old baby sitter and his 20-year-old brother.

Details of the "Truth or Dare" game and the beating of the 4-year-old were revealed yesterday in county Circuit Court, where brothers Joseph and Donald Schneider pleaded guilty to commiting an unnatural and perverted sex act. Joseph Henry Schneider, now 19, also pleaded guilty to child abuse in connection with the beating of the younger girl.

To the child-abuse charge, Joseph Schneider entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant acknowledges sufficient evidence for a conviction but does not admit guilt. And although a prosecutor produced a written statement that the man gave to police admitting he hit the child once, Schneider denied admitting he punched the girl, angrily telling the judge, "I don't believe in hitting kids."

In October 1990, when Schneider's parents kicked him out of their home for failingto find a job, the man moved into his neighbor's house. He would baby-sit the 4-year-old in exchange for room and board, Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris told the court.

But Jan. 7, the girl suffered injuries so serious that she temporarily stopped breathing on the way to the hospital.

Schneider told authorities that the girl had injured her head in a sledding accident on a nearby hill, but an investigation showed no sled tracks on the hill, Ferris said. Later, Schneider changed his story, claiming he had gotten angry at the girl for urinating on a piece of furniture and had pushed her down on abed, causing her to "bounce up" and hit her head.

The girl, however, had abdominal injuries that eventually required doctors to removemore than a foot of her intestines, Ferris said. The prosecutor saidthe girl apparently was punched so hard in the stomach that her intestines were crushed against her spinal cord.

Schneider has been held without bond at the county detention center since his arrest in January on an attempted murder charge. After his arrest, police learnedof the sex games the Schneiders played with neighborhood children inthe summer of 1990.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutorsdropped charges of assault with intent to murder and attempted murder against Joseph Schneider and second-degree sexual offenses against both brothers. Charges against the men involving sex acts with a girlwho introduced the "Truth or Dare" game to the neighborhood were dropped, with the girl's approval, Ferris said.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered psychiatric evaluations for both men and set sentencing for Sept. 27. Child abuse carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; the maximum sentence for commiting a perverted act is 10 years in prison.

After the hearing, the victims' mother said she neverthought Joseph Schneider was capable of violence when she allowed him into her home.

"To me, he was harmless. He played with the kids all the time, with his nieces," the woman said. Reminded that she hadinvited the man to live with her, only to have him injure her younger daughter and have oral sex with her 11-year-old daughter, the womansaid, "That hurts. That does hurt."

The woman says she and her family still live next door to the Schneiders, but they are hoping to move.

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