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April 13, 2012

A justifiably(?) long prison term for exteme child-care stupidity

It is really hard to have any sympathy for really mean people who hurt children, but this local sentencing story from Illinois, headlined "Rockford man gets 12 years for burning child with iron," leads me to wonder whether we ought to have perhaps a little sympathy for really stupid people who hurt children. Here are the details:

A man who ironed a shirt while it was on the back of an 18-month-old girl pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated battery to a child and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Elliott Moore, 43, of Rockford was sentenced by Judge Rosemary Collins, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced today.

On Feb. 5, 2010, Rockford police officers were sent to Rockford Memorial Hospital to take a report of aggravated battery to a child. Officers learned that the child had a large, open burn mark in the middle of the back.

The child’s mother reported Moore was her live-in care provider who watched her children while she was at school. The mother said on Feb. 4, 2010, she returned home and found Moore standing in the parking lot holding a bag of his clothes, stating he had to go to work. She said he was very agitated and that she knew he did not need to be at work for quite some time. That evening, the mother indicated her daughter was up all night crying. When she changed the child’s clothing, she noticed a large, open burn on her back, Bruscato said.

During an interview with detectives, Moore said he was watching the child and a sibling and was having difficulty ironing because the child was on his lap.  He said that he placed one of his work shirts on the child’s back and ironed.  The defendant said the child woke up crying, and he saw that he had burned her back. He said he then put cold water on her back and put the child in a sleeper....

Aggravated battery to a child is a Class 2 felony with a sentencing range of three to seven years in prison.  Because of the victim’s age, Moore was eligible for an extended term — a range of three to 14 years in prison.

Perhaps I am naive to take at face value the defendant's account of how he burned this toddler, and perhaps deep evil (rather than deep stupidity) is involved here and justifies a decade+ in a cage for this crime.  Still, if the poor child ultimately has no enduring harms and if the defendant truly was just guilty of being huge idiot, I wonder if anyone else questions whether the judge here really needed to nearly max-out the defendant's sentence.

April 13, 2012 at 09:42 AM | Permalink


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"Perhaps I am naive to take at face value the defendant's account of how he burned this toddler..."


There are plenty of stupid people. There are no people not in an asylum so stupid that they don't know putting a hot iron on a child's back will cause a very painful burn.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 13, 2012 10:52:07 AM

Doug, I think it's a fair question. But ultimately, I come out on the side of the judge here.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 13, 2012 12:48:53 PM

I guess I'm with Bill here. IF one credits the testimony then yes I think maxing the sentence was waaaay too harsh. But I don't know if I'm so eager as you Doug to credit it. I'd really need to know more about the details of the case before passing judgment.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 13, 2012 12:55:11 PM

Although John Smoltz now denies it, rumor had it that he once ironed his own shirt while he was wearing it.


Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
Mark Twain

Posted by: AFPD | Apr 13, 2012 1:48:49 PM

Of course it's too harsh, but then that's what we do.

Posted by: John K | Apr 14, 2012 11:44:22 PM

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