Vernal woman in abuse case gets an order against ex

Published: Thursday, Jan. 28 2010 12:19 a.m. MST

VERNAL — A woman accused of failing to obtain medical care for her 5-year-old son, making it necessary for doctors to amputate all of the boy's toes, has been granted a protective order against her co-defendant, who is her ex-husband.

Michelle Juan Napolitano, 33, and her ex-husband, Francis "Frank" David Napolitano, 53, are each charged with one count of child abuse, a second-degree felony. The pair made their first court appearances Monday in 8th District Court.

During Michelle Napolitano's hearing, the bail bond company that posted her bond asked the judge to revoke her bond because she had been granted a protective order against Francis Napolitano, who signed the bail agreement for his ex-wife. The judge granted the company's request.

In her application for the protective order, signed six days after the child abuse charge was filed against her, Michelle Napolitano said her ex-husband has abused her and her children since 1998.

"He would use food, housing, electric to control (us) if the kids and I made him mad," she wrote. "He would hit me. Then if I called the cops, he would tell them it was my fault. …"

Michelle Napolitano said her ex-husband also threatened to kill her and then himself following their arrest on the child abuse charges.

Court records show each Napolitano has claimed in the past that the other was physically abusive. During a September 2008 incident, Michelle Napolitano told Uintah County sheriff's deputies that Francis Napolitano became angry because she wouldn't sign papers related to their divorce and slapped her in the face, the report states. He, in turn, played voice mails for deputies in which a woman, who he said was his ex-wife, threatened to "bash" his head in with a hammer.

Deputies arrested Francis Napolitano following the incident. He was charged with domestic violence assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child, but the two class B misdemeanors were later dismissed at the request of prosecutors.

The child abuse charges filed Jan. 6 against the Napolitanos arise out of an investigation into allegations that her young son was not receiving medical care.

During a Jan. 31 visit to the family's home, deputies said the child's feet resembled those of "a severe burn victim with open blisters and bleeding sores on them."

"The toes were in different stages of decomposition but (were) primarily black and shriveled," court records state.

When questioned about the cause of the injuries, Michelle Napolitano told authorities that another child in the home had put an elasticized bracelet around the boy's legs on Dec. 23, investigators said. She said she cut the bracelet off the following day.

Doctors told investigators the injuries are consistent with a constrictive band of some kind being placed around the child's legs, but they said the band would have to have been on the boy for much longer than one day.

Uintah County Sheriff's Cpl. Brian Fletcher said all of the boy's toes have been amputated and he remains hospitalized at Primary Children's Medical Center, where he is receiving intensive treatment. The boy's prognosis is still unknown, Fletcher said.

"There's still a question if he'll lose more (of his feet)," he said.

DCFS has filed a petition seeking custody of all six children in the Napolitano home. A hearing on that petition is set for Feb. 9.

e-mail: gliesik@desnews.com

TWITTER: GeoffLiesik

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