EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 22, 2013

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


A social worker from the state's Department of Children and Families, who investigated Autumn's injuries, testified Friday that Dragotta and Amos used a "bicycle technique" of rotating the baby's legs in a circular motion to help relieve gas. Dragotta said she taught Amos this, but he soon developed his own technique that involved grabbing Autumn's legs and bringing them forward so her knees would be pressing her stomach, Amy Silverio, a DCF worker, testified.

Silverio testified that during her interview with Amos, he said he thought his technique resulted in the baby's broken ribs. Dragotta said she asked Amos to stop performing his technique when she watched Autumn turn red and cry after it was done, Silverio said.

Judge Richard Welch, who will render verdicts in the jury-waived trial, yesterday asked Kleinman if bicycling a baby's legs could lead to bone fractures. Kleinman said answering his question was difficult but noted, "If an injury results, the child is likely to be unhappy."

Kleinman added that anyone who has broken a bone can tell you that it's painful.

Silverio testified earlier that Amos told her that when Autumn was first born "he treated her like a piece of crystal but then later thought she was more flexible than he originally believed."

On her Facebook page, "Rickets an Epidemic," which is dedicated to mobilizing support to combat the condition, Dragotta said she and Autumn both suffered from Vitamin D deficiencies. She said she exclusively breastfed her baby, another risk for rickets, due to the absence of Vitamin D in breast milk.

For the past three years, Autumn has lived with her biological father at an undisclosed location in New Hampshire. Dragotta was allowed to see her during supervised visits.

She and Amos face up to five years in state prison or 2 1/2 years in the county jail on each of the child abuse charges, according to Massachusetts General Laws.

The trial continues today in Lawrence Superior Court.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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