Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nanny Guilty in Shaken Baby Assault


A Glendale nanny is facing 25 years in prison after being convicted of assaulting an infant girl she was caring for.

Alma Calderaro, 35, of 73rd Place was found guilty last Friday of first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child following a five-week jury trial in Queens Criminal Court, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. She faces a quarter century behind bars when she is sentenced on March 20.

According to trial testimony, Calderaro took seven-month-old Fiona Qirjako – who was having seizures and having difficulty breathing – to the emergency room at St. John’s Queens Hospital on January 11, 2006. The infant was transferred later that evening to Long Island Jewish Hospital where medical personnel observed bleeding in the brain and eyes and extensive brain damage.

Doctors at LIJ determined that the baby was suffering from bleeding on the brain and other injuries consistent with the non-accidental inflicted trauma of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, which occurs when a baby is repeatedly and violently shaken.

At trial, Fiona’s parents testified that their daughter was in perfect health up to the time she was dropped off at Calderaro’s residence. While on the stand, Calderaro testified that the baby was gasping for air and that she shook Fiona in order to revive her. However, medical experts testified that the defendant’s account of how the baby was injured was inconsistent with the nature and severity of the injuries she suffered.

Fiona, who is now nearly four years old, has permanent brain damage, according to the district attorney’s office.

In a separate and unrelated trial that also ended last Friday, 50-year-old Herdis Baptise of 226th Street in Laurelton was found guilty of abusing his wife’s two preteen daughters over a six-year period. He faces more than 30 years in prison when sentenced on March 30, according to District Attorney Brown.

According to trial testimony, Baptise began sexually abusing his two stepdaughters in July 1998 – when they were seven and eight years old – and continued until July 2004 when the younger sister turned thirteen. While testifying at the trial, the girls recounted how, on at least one occasion, Baptise inferred that they should be quiet and said he would give them candy.

“In both cases, the defendants occupied positions of trust and authority with their victims and chose to violate that responsibility in the most base ways – physically and emotionally traumatizing their young victims and ultimately robbing them of normal lives,” said District Attorney Brown. “The nightmares they imposed on their victims warrant the imposition of lengthy prison sentences.”

Both cases were investigated by the NYPD’s Queens Special Victims Unit, which is based out of the Queens Child Advocacy Center in Forest Hills, under the supervision of Lieutenant Patrick Baricelli, squad commander, and Sergeant Guisella Rodriguez.

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