Couple Is Charged With Abuse of an Adopted 5-Year-Old Girl

Date: 2005-01-01
Source: nytimes.com

Couple Is Charged With Abuse of an Adopted 5-Year-Old Girl

January 1, 2005
CHARLES V. BAGLI

A 5-year-old girl weighing 21 pounds and showing signs of abuse was in stable condition yesterday, at the Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, N.J., the day after the couple who had adopted her were arrested on charges of assault and child endangerment.

The girl was taken Wednesday from a home in Beachwood, a tiny enclave south of Toms River, by caseworkers after the authorities received an anonymous tip that she was being neglected.
   
Ernest Richard Davison, 51, and his wife, Cynthia Joan Davison, 48, were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment, according to Lt. Robert Urie of the Ocean County prosecutor's office. The Davisons were released from the county jail Thursday afternoon after they each posted $150,000 cash bail.

After receiving the tip on Wednesday, two caseworkers from the state's Division of Youth and Family Services went to the Davison home in Beachwood, where they found the girl suffering from malnourishment and abuse, the police said. There were indications that the girl had been bound at her wrists and ankles "for a considerable time," Lieutenant Urie said.

Three other children living in the home were also removed by state authorities and given medical exams. The prosecutor's office said the other children, who had also been adopted, were given a "clean bill of health."

Lieutenant Urie said investigators initially believed that the girl had been placed with the couple in October 2003 by the Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey. But, he said, the Lutheran Ministries said the girl had been placed by a private adoption agency.

In a statement issued by the Lutheran Ministries, the group said it had helped in the adoption and "post-placement supervision" of two of the Davisons' children and were completing adoption of a third. The adoption of the child found to be suffering from the abuse, it said, "was being facilitated by a private attorney."

"It's early in this investigation," Lieutenant Urie said. "We have further work to do."

Kate Bernyk, a spokeswoman for the state's Office of the Child Advocate, said yesterday, "We're opening an investigation and will request all the records from the state and its contract agency."

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