UPDATED 6:20 p.m. | A man from Normal accused of causing second-degree burns to a 10-year-old child with severe disabilities claimed Friday the girl's injuries may have come from bathing by her in-home nurse.
Sharieff Brown, 28, is charged with four counts of aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery to the disabled child. Charges stem from a Jan. 16 incident at the home he shared with the girl's biological mother, her grandmother who serves as her legal parent, and three other children.
The child's grandmother adopted the girl after her biological mother was accused of shaking her during infancy, according to the prosecutor's probable cause statement that alleges Brown unplugged a security camera used at the home to monitor the child's care.
The girl, who is quadriplegic, blind and confined to a hospital bed, was seen without injuries before the camera was disconnected, but showed signs of extreme distress after the device began recording about an hour later, said the statement.
Emergency responders were called to the victim's home by her in-home nurse who learned of the alleged abuse from the child's grandmother, said the report. Authorities allege Brown was home alone with the victim and two young children when the alleged abuse took place.
Medical personnel who cared for the child indicated the injuries "appeared to be thermal scalding burns" on the girl's neck and upper back, said the court statement. A Peoria pediatrician told police the burns are consistent with physical abuse.
At a preliminary hearing Friday, Brown's lawyer Mark Zalcman suggested the child's injuries were the result of chemicals in a shampoo used during bathing by the nurse. Brown denies he caused the injuries, said Zalcman.
In comments to WGLT after the hearing, Zalcman described Brown as "a tender, sensitive caretaker" of the girl. He said the family disputes claims the girl showed no signs of discomfort until later in the day.
Family members contend the girl had previously suffered burns from shampooing, said the defense lawyer.
The child abuse charges carry an extended term sentence of 60 years in prison, based on the age and disability of the victim. Brown also faces domestic battery charges involving another woman. He remains in jail in lieu of $21,070.
Brown is due in court July 10 for a status hearing.