Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nanny Sentenced in Shaken Baby Assault

A Glendale nanny has been sentenced to eight years in prison for assaulting an infant girl in her care. The victim, now nearly four years old, has permanent brain damage.

Alma Calderaro, 35, of 78-37 73rd Place was sentenced last Wednesday by Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert McGann. She was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child after violently shaking a baby she was watching three years ago. She had faced up to 25 years in prison.

According to testimony at Calderaro’s trial, the defendant took seven-month-old Fiona Qirjako to the emergency room at St. John’s Queens Hospital on January 11, 2006. The infant was in a non-responsive state and having difficultly breathing when she was taken to the hospital. She was later transferred to Long Island Jewish Hospital where medical personal observed bleeding in the brain and eyes and extensive brain damage – injuries consistent with the non-accidental inflicted trauma of Shaken Baby Syndrome, which occurs when a baby is repeatedly and violently shaken.

At trial, Fiona’s parents testified that their daughter was in perfect health up until 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 Fiona suffered. The child now has permanent brain damage.

“At the heart of this case lies every parent’s worst nightmare – the person they entrusted to care for their baby instead is responsible for severely injuring their child and robbing her of a normal life,” said District Attorney Richard Brown, who added that Shaken Baby Syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths.

“Its victims are innocent and helpless children, often injured by those charged with protecting them. These tiny victims are often impaired for life or killed. Caregivers of children should heed the important message that these cases unfortunately bring to our attention – never, under any circumstances, shake a baby.”

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