DeLeon facing abuse charges

Relates to:
Date: 2006-05-01

DeLeon facing abuse charges

Benjamin Shors
May 1, 2006

Stevens County charged a foster mother with the criminal mistreatment of a young boy in her care late Friday, but did not announce plans to charge her in the death of a second boy in the home.

County prosecutor Jerry Wetle charged Carole Ann DeLeon, 51, with a felony for the mistreatment of an eight-year-old boy, identified in court documents as “S.M.M.”

The documents allege that DeLeon limited the food and fluid intake of the boy, who had “marked retardation in height and weight.”

DeLeon’s attorney did not immediately return a call for comment this morning.

DeLeon, a former paralegal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, and her daughter, Christina Burns-DeLeon, have been the subject of an ongoing investigation into the death of seven-year-old Tyler DeLeon, according to a search warrant filed last year.

The boy, who weighed 28 pounds at his autopsy, died on Jan. 13, 2005, of dehydration. The boy reportedly had the flu at the time of his death.

Wetle refused to comment on the status of the investigation into Tyler DeLeon’s death.

If convicted of second-degree criminal mistreatment, Carole DeLeon could face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The court documents allege that S.M.M. and Tyler, who became “buddies” in DeLeon’s rural foster home, were isolated from the other children in the home.

DeLeon reported that both boys had “voracious appetites, but both would drink until their stomachs were distended and would drink out of bathtubs, puddles and toilets,” according to the documents.

The documents recount that both boys failed to grow and gain weight at a normal rate during their time in DeLeon’s care.

But S.M.M. began to thrive after he left the DeLeon home in October 2004 and demonstrated “remarkable catch-up growth,” according to the documents.

After dropping below the 5th percentile for height, the boy began to grow and gain weight rapidly, leading a physician to say, “I would be suspicious that his poor growth in the past was due to calorie deprivation or psychosocial short stature or a combination there of.”

A second physician found “substantial reason” to believe that both boys were maltreated in DeLeon’s care.

Wetle said S.M.M., who lives in the Spokane area, continues to be healthy.

“He’s great,” Wetle said. “He’s just coming out of it.”

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