HILLSBORO — An infant who was reportedly gnawed by a rat at a home in the Fort Hill area late last year has since recovered from her injuries, and on Thursday was placed in temporary custody of a family member, while her one-and-a-half year-old brother was placed with his biological father for a time.
According to a complaint filed by a Children Services caseworker in Highland County Juvenile Court, authorities responded to the home in November 2017 after the child was taken to the hospital with rat bites on her face and hands.
Officials could hear rats crawling around in the walls, the complaint said, and a dead rat was found in the yard.
The parents said they knew the home had a rat infestation, according to the complaint.
The infant’s mother testified on Thursday during a disposition hearing in juvenile court that she and the infant’s father had moved to the home a few days prior to the incident, and hoped to fix it up. Both work late shifts at an area factory, and had been cleaning the house before the incident occurred in the overnight hours, she said.
When attorney Lynn Turner, who represented the mother, asked what she did when she found the baby bleeding, the mother began to cry in court.
“I broke down,” she said. “I just started crying… I said, ‘We’ve got to get to the hospital.’”
According to the complaint, the baby was taken to Highland District Hospital and later transported by helicopter to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital due to her wounds.
The complaint said the rat “had bitten the child’s face and hands countless times.”
The mother was later charged with child endangering, a first-degree misdemeanor, and pled guilty to the charge. Sentencing was deferred, and another hearing in the case will be held in April.
Online court records do not show any similar charges against the father.
Judge Kevin Greer ordered on Thursday that the infant be placed temporarily with one of her father’s family members, and that the infant’s older brother be placed temporarily with his biological father, who lives in Jeffersonville.
Greer said the case was “horrific.”
“It’s as bad as I’ve seen,” he said, adding that it was a “miracle” that the other child, who was also in the home at the time of the incident, wasn’t injured similarly.
“To say (staying in the home) was poor judgment is giving you too much credit,” Greer said to the mother.
Attorney Adam King represented the father of the infant, attorney Kathryn Hapner represented the interests of the children as guardian ad litem, and attorney JD Wagoner represented the father of the older child.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.