Police have charged a foster mother with cruelty to persons and risk of injury to a minor after a toddler in her care who was severely malnourished, scarred and had broken bones, was taken to the hospital.
Groton police began an investigation on Nov. 11 after family members brought the 18-month-old boy to the Pequot Health Center.
Doctors there said the child was seriously underweight and was unable to walk, talk or feed himself, according to an arrest warrant application.
The boy also had an apparent injury to his elbow, scars on his neck, chest and arms, and what looked like a burn mark on his wrist, according to police.
Officers arrested Crystal Magee, 32, of Groton, on Feb. 4 after a months-long investigation.
Magee, who plead not guilty before a judge, told police that the toddler only began losing weight about two weeks before police arrived at her home in November.
Doctors told police the child was severely malnourished over a longer period of time, according to the arrest warrant application.
Police also said Magee skipped several doctor’s appointments for the boy.
The boy was removed from Magee's home by the Department of Children and Families in November and placed with an aunt. It was the aunt who then brought the toddler to see doctors.
The boy began to show marked improvement after being removed from Magee's home, police said.
DCF released a statement about the investigation on Thursday:
"The Department is deeply concerned about the treatment of this boy while in the care of a relative foster parent. Thankfully the boy is doing well and receiving all appropriate care and treatment at this time. We are appalled by what happened in the home of the woman who was arrested. Our foster parents and relative foster parents -- with only the rarest exceptions -- provide outstanding care for children, and accordingly, we have high standards and expectations for them. Clearly that trust was violated in this instance," the statement read.
Magee’s brother, Charles Church, spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut and said his sister should have never agreed to care for the child, but she did not hurt him.
“DCF took the baby from the home, brought him to my sister and pretty much begged my sister to care for the baby. My sister, who is chronically ill, said yes,” Church said.
Church denies the abuse and said any injuries to the toddler had to have come before he was in her care.
“My sister took care of him as best she could. I was over there numerous times and I never saw any burn marks,” Church said.
A DCF spokesperson said the agency is conducting its own investigation into the case.