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Mom, Boyfriend Broke Boy's Skull, DA Says

A woman and her boyfriend surrendered Monday and are charged with physical abuse of the woman's son.

A former Allentown woman and her boyfriend, who now live in Florida, have been charged with physically abusing the woman’s son and causing a skull fracture and other serious injuries to the boy over a four-month period in 2008.

Jose Morales, 32, and Katie Stout, 26, both of 7300 W. Irlo, Bronson Highway, Kissimmee, Fla., are each charged with two counts of aggravated assault, first-degree felonies, and endangering the welfare of children, a third-degree felony, by engaging in a course of conduct that endangered the child between June 10, 2008, and Oct. 13, 2008.

When the offenses allegedly occurred, the defendants were living in an apartment at 1409 Linden St. in Allentown.

The defendants surrendered on Monday to Det. Kevin Smith, who is a child abuse investigator in the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office. Morales and Stout were arraigned in Lehigh County Central Booking. Bail was set at $750,000 each.

The case was investigated by Smith, Megan Flores of the Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services, and Lehigh County’s sixth investigating grand jury.

The grand jury heard testimony from eight witnesses presented by Chief Deputy District Attorney Charles F. Gallagher III and reviewed 23 exhibits, including photographs of the boy’s injuries, extensive medical reports and investigative reports from the Northampton County and Lehigh County Offices of Children and Youth Services.  

The witnesses included a daycare worker, the boy’s paternal grandmother, the boy’s father, Stout and Morales.

The grand jury handed up a presentment on May 29, 2013. The presentment was reviewed by Lehigh County Judge Maria L. Dantos, the supervising judge of the grand jury. District Attorney James B. Martin approved charges based on the presentment.

The child is now in the custody of his father and paternal grandmother.

According to the presentment:

Stout’s son was born on March 23, 2007, and is now 6.

In June 2008, Stout took her son, who was then 14 ½ months old, to the emergency room of Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, for treatment of a fractured skull.  

At the time, Stout and the child’s father, Justin Ervin, had a shared custody arrangement in which the child was living primarily with the mother. The father, who was living in Nazareth with his mother, would have custody on some weekends. Stout was living with Morales, her boyfriend, in Allentown.

After discovery of the fractured skull and a healing fractured wrist on the child, hospital personnel notified ChildLine according to mandates of the Pennsyvlania Child Protective Services Law. Because the child was living at times with his father, an investigation was started by the Northampton County Office of Children and Youth. The boy was temporarily placed in a foster home. On July 29, 2008, the boy was released to his father.

In August 2008, the Office of Children and Youth concluded its investigation and issued an “unfounded status” to the investigation. The office allowed Stout to resume partial custody of the child on the condition that she live with her mother so that any contact between Morales and the child could be supervised by Stout’s mother.

Through the first week of October 2008, the boy was in the custody of Stout during the week but with his father and paternal grandmother on the weekends.

During this period, Stout again took the child to the emergency room on Sept. 25, 2008, for treatment of a tooth that had been partially knocked out. Stout told hospital personnel that the injury occurred when the child was playing and fell from a motorized car and his mouth hit the plastic seat.

Two weeks later in October 2008, Ervin and his mother noticed bruises and discoloration on the child’s genital area and bruising on his chin and were advised by Children and Youth Offices in Northampton and Lehigh counties to take the child to St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem for treatment.

After the child was examined by hospital staff on Oct. 13, 2008, the Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth began a child abuse investigation.  A complete skeletal examination and X-rays determined that the child had sustained numerous injuries to the femur and clavicle and multiple rib fractures after the fractured skull in June 2008.

A pediatrician concluded that “the most likely explanation for this series of serious unexplained injuries is inflicted blunt force trauma.”

As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation; and the defendants, Jose Morales and Katie Stout, are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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