How county agency defines child abuse

Relates to:
Date: 2004-05-24


The Erie County Office of Children and Youth uses its Web site to tell the public how it defines suspected child abuse.

OCY also uses the site to let people know how to report suspected abuse and how to tell when suspected abuse might be due to "non-accidental" origins.

In the case of Brittany Legler, Millcreek Township police allege that the 15-year-old's chronic injuries were not accidental.

Millcreek school officials made numerous complaints about suspected abuse of the 15-year-old to OCY, according to the police report in the case.

OCY is supposed to report cases of suspected child abuse to the police, though Millcreek police did not learn of the suspected abuse to Legler until after her death May 9, District Attorney Brad Foulk said.

According to the arrest warrant for Legler's adoptive mother, Lisa M. Iarussi, Legler suffered extensive bruising to the head and body, including the face, legs, arms, trunk and feet, and long-term injuries such as a cauliflower ear and scarring to the lower lip. Investigators found that "the sheer number, magnitude and location of the injuries sustained by the victim are inconsistent with accidental trauma alone," according to the warrant.

According to its Web site, here is how OCY wants the public to understand suspected child abuse.

"How can I tell if a child is being physically abused?" "Suspicion of physical abuse is warranted when a child sustains unexplained, non-accidental injuries. Common areas for these types of injuries are on the face, torso, back, buttocks, and thighs. When injuries are in various stages of healing it may suggest that the child has been repeatedly abused."

"When is physical discipline child abuse?" "When physical discipline results in a physical injury which causes a child severe pain or significantly impairs a child's physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently, it is considered child abuse."

For more information, go to eriecountygov.ED PALATTELLA, can be reached at 870-1813 or by e-mail.


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