Adoptive mother charged with child abuse

Relates to:
Date: 2010-04-09


RALEIGH -- Police have charged the adoptive mother of a 3-year-old with felony child abuse, court records show.

Apex police have charged Michele Andi Stein, 39, of 121 Homegate Circle, Apex, with one count of felony child abuse, severe bodily injury, according to an arrest warrant filed Tuesday night at the Wake County Magistrate's Office.

Apex investigators have accused Stein of assaulting Adam so severely March 19 that the child is in a coma at Duke University Hospital. The child has a fractured skull and large bruises on the frontal region of his brain, police reported.

In a court affidavit made public earlier this month, police said that Michele Stein and her husband adopted Adam from an orphanage in China in November.

Police began investigating the Steins when a Duke physician told investigators the child's head trauma was inconsistent with his parents' account of how he was injured, court records show.

Records also show Wake County Child Protective Services has previously investigated abuse and neglect reports concerning the child since he was adopted.

Emergency workers took the child on March 19 to WakeMed in Raleigh. He was breathing but unconscious, police reported.

When emergency workers arrived at the home, they found the child at the bottom of a staircase, Apex Police Department detective Worth T. Brown stated in the court affidavit earlier this month.

Michele Stein told the EMS workers that the child had fallen down the stairs earlier in the day while her husband was still at work, Brown stated in the search warrant application. She said she thought Adam was fine and put him down for a nap.

Adam was transferred March 20 to Duke, where Dr. Karen St. Claire, who is with the child abuse and neglect team, determined the injury was inconsistent with falling down six carpeted stairs.

Investigators later learned that the child had been admitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill Burn Center in January with second- and third-degree burns to both his hands.

Michele Stein told authorities that she had turned on hot water in the bathtub to give Adam a bath and had left him briefly unattended while she went to get him clean pajamas. Investigators with the county's child protective services suspected abuse, but determined the incident to be more consistent with "poor supervision and neglect," police reported.

In February, workers at the day care Adam attends noticed bruises on his back and leg. They also noticed that the child had lost weight since enrolling.

Michele Stein is in custody at the Wake County jail, where she is being held under $200,000 bail, a jail spokesman said this morning.

The Apex woman will make her first court appearance this afternoon, the spokesman said.


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