Prosecutor: Parental inaction is abuse
HARRISVILLE — A parent who fails to act when a child is abused commits child abuse themselves, a prosecutor argued on Wednesday.
Adrienne Pavelka, accused in the violent death of her daughter, 2-year-old Jayde McDonnell, faces charges of murder and child abuse.
In October, Judge Laura Frawley OK’d Pavelka to move toward trial on those charges, but Pavelka’s attorney, Matt Wojda, last week said Frawley erred in that decision.
On Wednesday, Alcona County Prosecutor Thomas Weichel in Alcona County’s 23rd Circuit Court said Pavelka knew for weeks before the girl’s death that her boyfriend, Aaron Trout, was abusing the child in his Glennie home, where Pavelka and the child were living.
The child’s death was the “natural and probable consequence” of Trout’s alleged escalating abuse and torture and Pavelka, in failing to intervene, committed abuse of her own, Weichel said.
Judge Richard Vollbach, chief judge for the 23rd Circuit Court, said on Wednesday that Frawley ruled according to the law by continuing Pavelka toward trial as charged. Vollbach presided over the hearing because Frawley, who usually handles circuit cases in Harrisville, had to recuse herself from a motion challenging her decision.
Police say Trout violently attacked the child in mid-July, causing her death, and that Pavelka did not seek medical help until the child died, several days after the incident.
Pavelka couldn’t have known Trout would use deadly force against the child and couldn’t get medical help afterward because Trout held her hostage, Wojda said in his motion contesting Frawley’s decision to continue Pavelka toward trial.
At least 86 separate injuries in various stages of healing on the body of the child mean her mother knew that the child was in grave danger, Weichel said in his response to Wojda’s motion.
At a previous hearing, police testified that Pavelka told them Trout hit the child, taped her to a toilet training chair, locked her on a porch, and otherwise abused her during the three to four weeks before the girl’s death, with the alleged abuse increasing in severity over that time.
Pavelka told police she convinced Trout to let her two other children stay with a relative for their safety, but that Trout would not let the 2-year-old leave because he wanted to hide her black eye, police testified.
If Pavelka knew the children were in danger, and, if, as she told police, she was with Trout as he abused the toddler, she was complicit in that abuse, Weichel argued.
“The defendant did nothing to protect her daughter from a very clear and known danger,” Weichel said, defending Pavelka’s charges of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree child abuse.
With Vollbach’s go-ahead, Pavelka continues toward a trial currently scheduled for May.
She and Trout next appear in court on Dec. 27 for a status conference.
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jriddleX.