Woman charged with aggravated assault of a minor

Police: 24-year-old shook and injured 3-month-old, taped pacifier to mouth

LEWISTOWN–A Lewistown woman was charged Thursday with four felony counts for aggravated assault of a minor, after reportedly securing a pacifier to her three-month old child’s mouth with duct tape, as well as shaking and throwing the child, causing bleeding to the infant’s brain, court documents indicate.

Documents state that, in December, the child of 24-year-old Delilah R. Ritter, was taken to Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, after the child reportedly stopped breathing. The child was immediately transported to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Various medical examinations at PSHMC determined the child initially presented with seizures and respiratory arrest, then found that the child’s ear and scalp had sustained recent bruising, noted an abrasion on the child’s scalp and documented that the child had a brain hemorrhage, according to court documents. Three previous mouth injuries, healing fractures in two ribs and the right wrist, as well as evidence of a failure to thrive were reportedly discovered via PSHMC medical examinations. PSHMC staff reported that these injuries were consistent with abuse and that the child also sustained injuries consistent with being shaken, according to court documents.

Documents state Mifflin County Regional and Pennsylvania State Police interviewed Ritter and her paramour regarding these injuries. The paramour told police he observed Ritter smack the child hard on the child’s bare backside and that the child would jolt when smacked. The paramour said Ritter would smack the child in this manner when the infant was “getting on her nerves,” court documents state. The paramour also told police Ritter used electrical tape to secure a pacifier to the child’s mouth nearly every night and also observed Ritter throw the child on a baby futon, their bed and a pac-n-play. The paramour said Ritter shook the infant before throwing the child on the bed, court documents state.

The paramour reportedly told police that, when prompted by Ritter to smack the child, he only ever did so over the diaper and that he never used tape to secure the pacifier to the infant’s mouth.

Ritter reportedly admitted, both to police and to Mifflin County Family Intervention Crisis Service, that she shook the child one time and that she may have thrown the infant on a futon. Ritter also told police that, one time, she put the child down onto the bed “too hard” and also admitted that she would sometimes use duct tape to secure a pacifier to the infant’s mouth, but did not do it anymore. Mifflin County Children and Youth Services reported to PSHMC, who relayed the information to MCRPD, that Ritter also admitted to CYS she secured a pacifier to the child’s mouth with duct tape. Ritter said she did not believe that any of her behavior towards the child would have caused the injuries reported, court documents indicate.

MCRPD reported that a photograph was reviewed which demonstrated an injury to the child’s top lip, consistent with using duct tape to hold a pacifier within the child’s mouth. Additionally, MCCYS reported that there were three different incidents of abuse or shaking that caused the fractures and hemorrhage documented by PSHMC and that the failure to thrive and mouth injuries are “a course of conduct over a period of time.”

The child was discharged from PSHMC on Jan. 14 into foster care, under the direction of MCCYS, according to MCRPD. MCRPD reported the child’s health continues to improve daily and is thriving.

Ritter was charged with 15 counts, according to court documents. In addition to the aggravated assault counts, Ritter was charged with one felony count endangering the welfare of children and seven misdemeanor counts, including simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, court documents state. Documents indicate Ritter was committed to Mifflin County Correctional Facility, unable to post the $250,000 bail set by Magisterial District Judge Jonathan Reed. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 20.

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