ST. GEORGE — A local woman was charged Wednesday with four third-degree felony aggravated child abuse offenses for allegedly causing three fractures on a four-year-old child, and for fracturing a two-year-old child’s femur during a diaper change.
Nancy Pena, 30, of St. George was charged with four counts of third-degree felony aggravated child abuse and inflicting serious physical injury after she was arrested by St. George Police officers Tuesday. Pena is scheduled to appear in 5th District Court Friday for an initial appearance.
The charges stem from an investigation that began July 18 when St. George Police officers were called to investigate a possible child abuse situation after receiving a referral from the Division of Child and Family Services. The case involved two children, ages two and four.
Both children had recent visits to the emergency room at Dixie Regional Medical Center to be treated for injuries.
The four-year-old was found to have a broken scapula, or shoulder bone, a broken humerus, or upper arm bone, and a broken bone in his pelvic region. Doctors were also able to determine that the fractures “occurred at separate times,” the statement said.
Physicians determined that the two-year-old sustained a fractured femur.
According to police, the parents offered inconsistent statements relating to how the injuries occurred.
On Tuesday, Pena, the children’s stepmother, was questioned further and allegedly admitted to, and provided details on, how the injuries to both children were sustained.
Pena reportedly said she broke the two-year-old’s femur when “she lost her temper while changing the child’s diaper,” the report said.
Referring to the four-year-old’s injuries, police say Pena admitted to being responsible for breaking the bone in his upper arm, telling officers it occurred when she grabbed the child’s arms, raising them above his head and then “escorting him to his room.”
Pena also “admitted to losing her temper during those incidents, but denied causing the injuries intentionally,” and denied any knowledge of how the child sustained the injuries to his scapular and pelvic areas.
According to the report, Pena “admitted to being responsible for breaking two of the four broken bones found on the children.”
After giving a number of inconsistent statements during interviews with police, along with confessing to breaking two of the children’s bones, detectives had reason to believe that Pena was responsible for causing the injuries to both boys. She was arrested that same day and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility.
It takes a great deal of force to fracture a femur bone, even on a small child, Dr. Amanda Jocelyn, a child abuse examiner with Primary Children’s Hospital, told St. George News Thursday, and in this case the fracture was caused by “a twisting motion,” she said.
Jocelyn added that it takes a great deal of investigation to forward any case to police for further questioning. Medical analysis includes a review of the child’s medical and injury history, going over the child’s injuries extensively and taking into consideration the statements made by the child’s caregivers when they seek treatment.
“These types of cases aren’t taken lightly, and we analyze many factors whenever child abuse is suspected.”
Pena remains in custody on $10,000 bail.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.