Cops: Girl, 5, starved in foster care The girl weighed 21 pounds and showed signs of having been restrained, officials said. Her

Date: 2004-12-31

Author: CHRIS LUNDY/ Staff WriterStaff

BEACHWOOD - A borough couple was arrested and charged yesterday with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child after authorities found a 5-year-old female foster child in their care suffering from malnutrition and apparent physical and mental abuse, according to a report from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Officials from the state Division of Youth and Family Services and the Family Protection Unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office responded to the Spruce Street home after receiving an anonymous report of child neglect Wednesday.

According to the prosecutor's office report, the girl weighed only 21 pounds, had been abused physically and mentally, and had injuries consistent with being restrained for considerable periods of time.

Ernest Richard Davison, 51, and Cynthia Joan Davison, 48, both of 62 Spruce St., were arrested and charged by Kenneth Hess, an investigator with the Family Protection Unit.

The child was removed from the home and brought to Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune, for care and evaluation.

The girl had been placed with the Davison family in October of 2003 through Lutheran Adoption Services, a private adoption agency.

Three other children living in the home were also removed by state authorities. Two of those children had been adopted by the Davisons; the other two, including the injured girl, were awaiting adoption by the couple, authorities said.

Bail was set by Ocean County Superior Court Judge James N. Citta at $150,000 with no 10 percent option for both defendants. They were lodged in Ocean County Jail, and later released after posting the full amount.

In a report published in January of 2003, the Davison's were said to have five biological children and three adopted children.

The Davisons wished to create a ministry that could care for many special-needs children who need a home and access to the best medical care possible. This dream began with the death of their first child, Emmy Sue, who was born with profound disabilities and died of kidney failure at age 3.

They were advised against having more children, but then had five healthy kids, whose ages, at that time, ranged from 15 to 26 years old.

While Ernest Davison worked as an equipment specialist at Earle Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck, Cynthia was a full-time mother who home-schooled the adopted children.

One adopted child, a girl, 11 years old at the time of the article, reportedly has Down syndrome. Another, a boy, 4 years old at the time of the article, a developmental and eating disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome.

A third, a girl, 16 months old at the time of the article, has Cornelia de Lange syndrome, which is usually associated with moderate to severe retardation, high blood pressure, heart defects, feeding difficulties and brain seizures.

It is unlikely either girl is the child in question.

No way would they be abusing children, neighbor Arlene Backus of nearby Seaman Ave. said. Pets, maybe.

Arlene and her son Chris Backus, said the family seemed to neglect animals in their possession.

Prosecutor Thomas F. Kelaher commended the DYFS workers, Jolene Lopez and Tracy Dunn, for their quick and thorough response, and Detective Paul Huber of the Beachwood Police Department for his assistance in the investigation.

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