EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2008

Father found guilty of abusing son seeks visitation rights

By James A. Kimble , Staff writer

BRENTWOOD - A jailed Windham father convicted of breaking the ribs and back of his 7-month-old son is fighting for visitation rights with his two children.

Gurrie Fandozzi, 41, has filed a petition in Derry Family Court to maintain contact with his children. But a similar request he made earlier in Superior Court could prompt the judge in his criminal case to step in. Judge Tina Nadeau could decide if Fandozzi first needs to undergo mental health and anger management evaluations.

A jury found Fandozzi guilty on Nov. 19 of breaking six of his son's ribs and sacral vertebrae in the spring and summer of 2006. He was found not guilty of charges that he broke 19 other bones.

Since 2006, child protection workers have allowed the Connecticut lawyer and stay-at-home father to have supervised visits with his abused son, who is now almost 2, and his 4-year-old daughter.

The Division of Children, Youth and Families plans to drop its oversight of the case because Fandozzi has been convicted, causing the visitation issue to fall into legal limbo, according to defense lawyer Steven Shadallah.

Shadallah is now awaiting a decision from the Family Court on a follow-up request to outline conditions under which Fandozzi could see his children.

But the filing in Family Court doesn't bar Nadeau from ruling on Shadallah's original request in Superior Court. And prosecutors would like to see more restrictions on Fandozzi, pending an evaluation.

Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway wrote in court papers that Fandozzi should undergo mental health and anger management evaluations before any visitations are allowed. She believes Fandozzi needs to be evaluated to see if he is a danger to his children.

But Shadallah argued in court papers that Fandozzi has seen his children for more than a year without incident. A parent aide appointed by the Family Court monitored the visits.

Nadeau could hold a hearing on the matter, issue a ruling, or leave the matter for Family Court to decide. Family Court matters are typically sealed to the public. Arguments about the visitation issue were filed in Fandozzi's criminal court case.

Fandozzi is being held without bail at the Rockingham County jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Rockingham County Superior Court on March 7. Each count of first-degree assault is punishable by 10 to 30 years in state prison.

Until now, Nadeau has deferred questions about visitation to the Family Court. She has made no rulings on the matter since Fandozzi's conviction.

The judge refused to set bail for Fandozzi twice since his conviction, including a request for furlough so he could attend a friend's funeral in Connecticut earlier this month. She also denied a request last month for a new trial.

Fandozzi claims his conviction cannot be upheld because prosecutors lacked evidence linking him to his son's injuries. Prosecutors relied on expert testimony from hospital doctors, who examined the baby, along with neighbors who said Fandozzi spent most of the day and night with his children.

He watched the children while his wife, Tammy, worked as an administrator with the Social Security Administration in Boston. The couple lived on Squire Armour Road in Windham.

But Nadeau concluded that prosecutors offered "persuasive and compelling" evidence to prove Fandozzi's guilt.

Fandozzi's conviction in New Hampshire has also prompted Connecticut regulators to call for his law license.

Mark Dubois, chief disciplinary counsel for Connecticut, said yesterday that his office sent a letter for Fandozzi to the county jail, asking him to relinquish his law license in wake of his conviction on felony charges. If Fandozzi refuses, Dubois will petition a Connecticut judge to disbar him.