WISCASSET, Maine — A 25-year-old Damariscotta woman has pleaded guilty to felony assault and endangering the welfare of a child after being accused of throwing her 11-month-old daughter on the bed and kicking her in the face.
Rebecca E. DeBella was charged with Class C assault and Class D endangering the welfare of a child in connection with a Nov. 2, 2012, assault on her daughter.
Damariscotta police Officer Aaron Beck wrote in a Nov. 2, 2012, affidavit that “Keith Robinson told me that his ex-girlfriend threw their 11-month-old daughter onto the couch and then kicked her in the face.”
“[DeBella] told me she did not throw the child but ‘tossed’ her onto the couch. She said that she only pushed the child with her feet and it knocked her over,” Beck wrote.
Emergency medical technicians took the child to the hospital, according to Beck.
DeBella pleaded guilty to the charges last week in Wiscasset District Court.
“She was asked on the record if she was pleading guilty because she was guilty, and she said she was,” said Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Jon Liberman, who prosecuted the case.
Liberman said he agreed to the plea deal in part because he would only have been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she tossed the child and pushed the child with her foot.
Also a consideration, he said, is that “we all agree that this is in the best interest of the child.” DeBella has done well with substance abuse counseling, he said, and, under conditions of the plea, she will attend additional counseling if it is deemed necessary.
DeBella was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but 60 days suspended and one year of probation. Through a deferred disposition, however, if she abides by conditions for one year, the felony assault charge will be reduced to misdemeanor domestic assault, Liberman said.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been involved in the case since it began, and is in support of full reunification of DeBella with her child, Liberman said.
DeBella’s attorney, Philip S. Cohen of Waldoboro, said Monday afternoon that he thinks the state would have had difficulty proving the charges, but that both sides made concessions in the plea bargain.
He added, “Since she was charged, Miss DeBella has really done everything that could be expected of her in terms of counseling, working with Volunteers of America and taking college courses. In fact the Department of Health and Human Services has closed their case and she actually has custody of the child. Even the department finds that she’s not a danger to this child.”
Correction: The original version of this story said that Damariscotta police Officer Aaron Beck had noticed a bruise on the baby’s face. Assistant District Attorney Jon Liberman clarified that the bruise later was determined to be a vein, not an injury.