EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 22, 2013

Child abuse expert: Baby's bone breaks were 'inflicted'

LAWRENCE -- A pediatric radiologist who specializes in detecting child abuse yesterday testified a myriad of bone fractures suffered by infant Autumn Dragotta were "inflicted."

Dr. Paul Kleinman of Boston Children's Hospital, studied X-rays taken of the baby, who ended up first in the Lawrence General Hospital emergency room and later at Children's on June 3, 2010.

The infant's then caretakers, her mother Heather Dragotta, 33, and Dragotta's companion, Steve Amos, 34, are on trial for allegedly abusing the baby girl,.

Autumn was 5 1/2 weeks old when she was diagnosed with 21 fractures and a brain hemorrhage.

Both Dragotta and Amos face multiple charges of assault and battery on a child resulting in injury and permitting an injury to a child. The abuse allegedly occurred while the pair was living in North Andover.

While police immediate began a child abuse investigation after Autumn's hospitalization, Dragotta has said the infant's injuries were caused by copper and Vitamin D deficiencies, a condition known as infantile rickets.

Under questioning by prosecutor Kate MacDougall, Kleinman described broken ribs as well as arm and leg fractures he diagnosed using Autumn's X-rays, which were displayed in a Power Point presentation in the courtroom. Kleinman, using a black magic marker, also indicated bone breaks on the baby's arms and legs on the image of a skeleton on a poster board in the courtroom.

Kleinman said he found no evidence that would indicate problems with the baby's bone health or other conditions that would contribute to the fractures. MacDougall asked him what he believed to be the cause of the fractures.

"That they were inflicted injuries," Kleinman said.

Later, under questioning by Amos' defense attorney, Kevin Mitchell, Kleinman said fractures in baby's bones "do not occur spontaneously. Nor do they occur in the customary handling of a child."

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