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Prosecutors drop abuse case against parents of 2-year-old girl

TAMPA — A 2-year-old girl fought for her life in a pediatric intensive care unit last May. She survived. Doctors found fractured ribs, a severed pancreas, bite marks on her buttocks and thigh, and a fork-shaped burn on her knee.

Police blamed the parents, Carolina Pena and Isidro Rosario. But Hillsborough County prosecutors have decided not to pursue charges.

Obviously, a parent inflicted the major injuries, a prosecutor noted in the file at the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

But it's unclear which parent, said office spokesman Mark Cox.

The girl was originally taken to a Hillsborough clinic for a swollen belly but rushed to Tampa General Hospital once doctors saw the severity of her injuries.

Pena, 22, was charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect. Rosario, 27, was charged with child neglect and failure to report child abuse.

Investigators said the girl's distended stomach was caused by blunt trauma to the pancreas.

Both parents said they thought it was gas. Pena said she called her mother-in-law when the swelling didn't go down. Rosario said he went to the pharmacy to see whether medicine could help.

The parents offered explanations for the other injuries. Pena said the girl had fallen off a play set. She also said the girl's sister, who is a couple of years older, is very aggressive.

If the mother committed the abuse, prosecutors wrote in a case file, then the father could claim that he thought the girl was suffering from gas and he was not aware of the rib fractures. Conversely, the mother could argue the same.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Pena declined to discuss the case. She said the girl is in the care of the Department of Children and Families, which is still investigating. Pena said the toddler has gained 30 pounds and is doing "very well."

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Prosecutors drop abuse case against parents of 2-year-old girl 10/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:30pm]
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