Woman charged with beating and scalding her 5-year-old adoptive son with Down syndrome

Date: 2014-09-26

By Charlene Adams

A Wisconsin mother of two allegedly beat her five-year-old son who has Down syndrome so badly that the boy defecated in his pants, she then made the boy sit in scalding hot bath water, authorities say.

Ruthann Gneiser, 31, told investigators that she was 'as angry as I've ever been.'

Medical Center of Aurora staff notified authorities after Gneiser brought the child in on Monday with 'heavy bruising' on his back and scald burns on more than 50 percent of his body, according to ABC 2.

The married, stay-at-home mom reportedly got angry with her adoptive son and began slapping him repeatedly on the back until he defecated in his pants.

ABC 2 reports that Gneiser made her son stand in a cold shower until he 'got himself cleaned up.'

She then made the boy sit in hot water for up to 1 1/2 minutes only noticing that the water was very hot when she reached in and nearly burned herself, Gneiser told authorities.

The child was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where he underwent emergency surgery, according to ABC 2.

A probable cause affidavit reports that though the incident occurred between 1 and 1.25pm, Gneiser did not seek medical attention for her son until 4.30pm -- approximately three hours later.

USA Today reports that one of the child's medical examiners told authorities that the five-year-old's bruises were 'too numerous to count.' And when authorities asked Gneiser what happened to her son she said 'I should be in jail.'

Gneiser was reportedly released Tuesday on $10,000 bail with conditions prohibiting her from seeing her children -- both are five-year-old boys with Down syndrome -- and from having unsupervised contact with any minor.

She was charged Thursday with 'physical abuse of a child intentionally causing great bodily harm,' if found guilty, Gneiser may face up to 40 years in prison, We are Green Bay reports.

Gneiser is due in court on Monday. ABC 2 reports that Sheriff Robert Hermann described the situation as being 'tough.'

'We're investigating this at this point and still following up on a lot of information," Hermann told ABC 2.

'It's tough when you're dealing with a child that has disabilities to start with and then something so tragic happens to that child.'


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