UPDATE-2: Mom accused of beating, scalding son with Down syndrome
By Michelle Clemens
Manitowoc County - A Manitowoc boy who has Down syndrome suffered burns on over 50 percent of his body when he was placed in scalding water, according to a probable cause statement from Manitowoc County.
Ruthann Gneiser from the Town of Newton now faces felony charges.
Investigators were alerted around 5 o'clock Monday evening when hospital staff said they were treating a boy in the emergency room with burns and heavy bruising on his back. Authorities believe the injuries happened four hours earlier.
Law enforcement made contact with the boy's mother, who admitted to causing the injuries to her son, according to the probable cause statement.
"Obviously it's a very tragic situation when a young child like that gets abused," Sheriff Robert Hermann said.
The statement says Gneiser was angry with her son, so she slapped the boy repeatedly on the back with an open hand, at which point he defecated in his pants. She then pulled the boy into the bathroom and forced him to take a cold shower and sit in hot water while he cleaned himself and his underwear.
Gneiser told police she noticed the water was very hot when she reached in the bathtub and nearly burned herself.
The probable cause statement says this happened about 1 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. and no medical attention was sought until 4:30 p.m.
The boy was transferred to Children's Hospital near Milwaukee, where he underwent emergency surgery for burns covering about half of his body, the statement said.
According to the statement, when asked what happened to her son, Gneiser said, "I should be in jail."
Gneiser is free on $10,000 bond. As a condition of her bond, she can't have contact with her son or have unsupervised contact with any minor.
She's due back in court on Monday.
"We're investigating this at this point and still following up on a lot of information," Sheriff Hermann said. "Our officers are trying to get all of the information. 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,"