Grandparents get temporary custody in case of 21-month-old’s beating, rape

Carroll County judge orders parenting, domestic abuse classes for child’s mother, who was in house at time of incident

April 20, 2010|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

A Carroll County judge on Monday awarded temporary custody of a 21-month-old girl at the center of an abuse case to her maternal grandmother and step-grandfather.

A hearing on permanent custody will be held later, Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway decided.

The child was hospitalized April 11 after her 19-year-old mother discovered that the girl had been injured while both were spending the night at the home of Ryan C. Gifford, 23. The mother told police that she and Gifford had been drinking. She said she cleaned the child, returned her to bed and took her to a hospital seven hours later.

Police said neither Gifford nor the mother could explain the child's injuries, which included bruises, burns and evidence that she had been raped. Gifford was arrested and charged with assault and child abuse. The girl was released Wednesday from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The child's mother told the judge Monday that she did not object to her mother and stepfather assuming control of the child. Galloway ordered the young mother to take classes on parenting and domestic violence, and signed a protective order that bars her from seeing her daughter outside of weekly supervised visits.

Galloway said the child's paternal grandparents may also see her during the visitation sessions.

The mother and the girl's father have been separated since shortly after the child was born in July 2008. The father, who also was told he could see his daughter only under supervision, left the courthouse without comment.

But his parents and two sisters, who have posted fliers around Westminster critical of the young mother's family, said they objected strongly to the temporary order. They said the baby's father had been seeking custody since May and had not been able to see his daughter since July. Since the couple's separation, the toddler had spent much of her time at the home of her maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, they said.

"Someone needs to take this child out of these people's hands," one of the girl's aunts said outside the courthouse. "Why does [the father] need supervised visitation? He hasn't done anything to this child."

As he was leaving the courthouse, the step-grandfather said he would not let anything else happen to the young girl.

"We're just making sure the baby is protected," he said, "so that she can heal."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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