Couple charged with child abuse after baby suffers facial burns

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 9:41 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — A mother and her boyfriend were charged Friday with abuse or neglect of a disabled child after a 9-month-old suffered facial burns.

Amber Brimhall, 29, of West Valley City, and her boyfriend, Apollo Michael Adams, 27, were each charged in the 3rd District Court with abuse or neglect of a disabled child, a third-degree felony. Brimhall was also charged with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

Adams noticed the 9-month-old baby had a "mild sunburn" on her face on July 17, 2012, and used a mixture of water and vinegar to treat it, the charges state. The next day, police say he noticed the child's face had blistered but did not seek medical attention and went to work.

The child was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center on July 19 and was referred to University Hospital's burn unit for the burn on her face.

A pediatrician with the Safe and Healthy Families Team at Primary Children's spoke with Brimhall, who said she didn't know how the baby was burned but said the child was with her ex-sister-in-law at the pool on July 16 and may have been burned there, according to the charges. Brimhall said the evening after attending the pool the baby's face was dry and flaky but not red.

Brimhall told the pediatrician the baby's face was covered in yellowish discharge and the skin on her right cheek was red the next day, charging documents state. She said some areas looked swollen and puffy. A day later, Brimhall said the burn looked "10 times worse."

After reviewing medical records and examining the baby, a pediatrician told police the burns on the baby's cheeks and forehead did not appear to be a sunburn, but were possibly caused by a chemical being applied to the child's face.

Brimhall slept next to the baby's bed at the burn center, but a nurse told police it was difficult to wake her. When Brimhall was awake and saw her child in the crib, she responded, "She can't get out of the crib," and continued to sleep, the charges state.

Several medical personnel at the burn center said the baby had no stranger anxiety and would go to anyone without resistance.

A social worker expressed concerns that the child was not brought in until late in the day on July 18. She was also concerned Brimhall had to be woken by medical staff after sleeping for almost 14 hours for her consultation, calling it unusual behavior for a parent with a child who is hospitalized, according to the charges.

eeagar@deseretnews.com

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