An East Hartford woman is facing charges after allegedly starving her 11-year-old disabled son, withdrawing him from school and denying him proper medical treatment.
Alison Rosa, 29, has been charged with first-degree assault, first-degree assault of a disabled person, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree abuse, cruelty to persons and risk of injury to a minor.
Police said the Department of Children and Families contacted them in April after the child showed up to an appointment at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center covered in bedsores and weighing just 28 pounds.
Authorities said the boy lost 20 percent of his body weight between August 2014 and March 2015.
The child suffers from a number of conditions, including cerebral palsy, and is severely mentally and physically disabled. Police said the boy is a quadriplegic and completely dependent on his mother.
"He has cerebral palsy, he's blind. He can't talk; he can't communicate. So her day consisted of putting him on his feeding tube and bathing him," said the child's godmother, Karen Baker. "I've always known Alison to be a good mother, a loving mother. From the time I've known him, he's always been thin. He's never been a heavy boy, ever."
Doctors at Connecticut Children’s said the boy was not just thin. They diagnosed the child with moderate to severe malnutrition due to "inadequate caloric intake" and said the boy showed "evidence of chronic malnutrition," according to the warrant for Rosa’s arrest.
He lost two baby teeth that were "green and black and were falling apart due to decay" and suffered "refeeding syndrome," which happens when a person is so malnourished, the body’s metabolic rate surges upon receiving food, the warrant says. Refeeding syndrome can lead to heart problems, seizures and death.
According to police, Rosa did not have proper medical equipment to care for the boy, claiming it had broken, and went seven or eight months without receiving a delivery of formula to feed him.
She also skipped dozens of medical appointments, claiming she and the boy had moved to Puerto Rico for 22 months, although school records indicated otherwise. Police said Rosa later withdrew the boy from school and failed to re-enroll him.
"I've taken her to doctors appointments myself. I was aware there were certain appointments she missed because the winter was so bad, she never made it to the doctor's office," Baker said. "I wasn't aware of the severity of it until DCF and I spoke."
Police and medical providers concluded the boy suffered "physical abuse, medical neglect, physical neglect, and educational neglect." He was placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
Rosa was arrested Monday. She appeared in court Wednesday, where her bond was set at $350,000. Rosa is due back before a judge Aug. 21. She has not yet entered a plea, according to court records.
"I think things just got away, were too much for her. She couldn't handle it by herself. She has no family here but her dad, and he's in Willimantic," said Baker, adding that she had considered fostering the child. "She tried on her own and I believe in my heart what happened wasn't an intentional thing."
Since being admitted to New Britain's Hospital for Special Care in April, the boy has gained weight and his condition has improved, according to the police report.
"He's getting chunky and he looks great. We've been to the hospital and he's doing much better," Baker said. "I'm hoping Alison gets the true help she needs to take care of him and hopefully someday have custody of him or at least see him, because right now, she can't have any contact with him at all."
It’s not clear if Rosa has an attorney.