The Shadow Nanny and Shaken Baby Syndrome

 

Accused Nanny Aisling McCarthy Brady

Accused Nanny Aisling McCarthy Brady

Aisling McCarthy Brady arrived in Massachusetts from her native Ireland as a tourist for 90-days under the Visa Waive Program in 2002. She has been in the United States illegally ever since. On Jan.22, 2013 Brady was arraigned on a charge of assault and battery on one-year old Rehma Sabir, causing substantial bodily injury. The little girl has subsequently died. Prosecutors expect to charge the thirty-four year old professional nanny with murder once the autopsy is completed.

 

Currently, Brady, who has pled not guilty, is being held on a $500,000 bail in the MCI-Framingham correctional institution. If she posts bail she can have no contact with the family of the child, and no contact with kids under the age of 10. She cannot engage in employment or volunteer work with kids or engage in child care services. She must surrender her passport, and check in with probation, and she is ordered to remain under house arrest with GPS monitoring. Her next court date is a pretrial hearing that is scheduled for February 22.

 

On January 14, Cambridge Police responded to Ash Street regarding an unresponsive infant. The child was found to be breathing but unconscious.  The child was transported to Children’s Hospital in Boston where she was found to be suffering from subdural and retinal hemorrhaging, and cerebral swelling.  She was also observed to have multiple healing bone fractures.  On January 16, the child was pronounced brain dead and subsequently died.

 

It has been determined that Brady had sole custody of and contact with the child during the time that she sustained injuries consistent with abusive head trauma. An evidence search of the child’s bedroom revealed blood stained baby wipes discarded in a ‘Diaper Genie’. The baby’s blanket and pillow in the crib also had telltale blood stains. The wall next to her changing table had a piece of drywall missing, with remnants scattered on the floor that was consistent with it being damaged by forceful contact with the corner of the changing table.

 

In documents released yesterday it was disclosed that, based on radiologic images from Children’s Hospital, Rehma had numerous healing fractures, between 2 weeks and two months old, including several compression fractures in her spinal area, as well as what are called long bone fractures to one of her left forearm bones and the two bones in her left leg. Clearly, the toddler had been subjected to severe abuse over the long term.

 

Brady has no criminal convictions, but she does have a well-documented history of erratic behavior and anger management issues. In 2005, a former boyfriend got a restraining order against Brady because she attacked him in a bar for talking to another woman. This incident was followed by years of stalking and harassment. In 2007, in an unrelated incident, Brady was arrested and charged with assault after yet another incident at a bar. As recently as 2011, a restraining order was filed against Brady after she accused a woman of “abusing the kids in the playground”.

 

Convicted Nanny Louise Woodward

Convicted Baby Killer Louise Woodward

This case is reminiscent of the Louise Woodward manslaughter incident and trial in 1997. In both cases the nanny was a foreign national. Like baby Rehma, little Matthew had old injuries that indicated previous violent abuse. Louise, a nineteen-year old English au pair was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care. In November, 1997, Louise Woodward was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence for the second-degree murder of baby Matthew Eappen. Inexplicably, Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the jury’s verdict to involuntary manslaughter and said that the 279 days in prison the British au pair had already served would suffice as the entirety of her sentence. Woodward has since returned to Great Britain.

 

According to USA Today there are hundreds of thousands of foreign born women working in these jobs. They belong to a job sector that exists in the shadows, foreign born, oftentimes illegal immigrants, with few mainstream job skills and a willingness to work under the table for sub-par wages.

 

Families that employ shadow nannies range from the middle class to the rich and powerful. Markel Foundation President Zoë Baird and Federal Judge Kimba Wood were both forced to remove their names from consideration as United States Attorney General in the Clinton Administration when it was revealed that they had both employed undocumented nanny’s during the infamous Nannygate scandal of 1993.

 

My question is simple: why do very smart people make such stupid decisions when it comes to the safety and welfare of their children? I have no doubt that the majority of America’s undocumented nannies are loving, competent and responsible, but what compels parents to entrust their children to the lowest bidder? Hopefully, this case of a sadistic shadow nanny that violently shortened the life of a sweet little girl will prompt requisite soul searching to get to the heart of that question.

Creating Order out of Chaos!

The two guiding principles that drive missing person cases are chaos and order. Chaos rules the family. Their precepts of normalcy are obliterated, and their faith is oftentimes challenged, as they are thrust into a foreign environment that defies logic and experience. Law enforcement, especially if the jurisdictional agency has limited experience investigating missing child cases, is also subject to chaos. Chaos reigns in the community as rumor and innuendo inevitably insert themselves and anonymous bloggers level outrageous theories or point accusatory fingers at family members. Finally, chaos is multiplied as the second wave of predators inserts themselves into ongoing investigations.
I can speak from experience that there is nothing to prepare a family for the disappearance of a child. Whether they are missing for ten minutes in a department store, or months during a lingering investigation, panic and fear quickly dominate our emotions. But, because of our experience, professionalism and issue knowledge the KlaasKids Foundation can be a stabilizing force after a family invites to search for their missing child.
One hopes that order dominates official efforts to investigate and solve the case. Fortunately, many if not most law enforcement agencies have missing child investigative templates or protocols to guide their efforts. Unfortunately, most law enforcement agencies have little to no experience in missing child investigations, and their best efforts can be chaotic at best. However, as State and Federal resources are drawn into investigations protocols, templates, and experience usually, but not always, increase exponentially.
Media is a wild card. In the rush to be first many media outlets throw caution to the wind and report rumor as fact. Or, they offer speculation and opinion as hard knowledge. When Polly was missing certain television reporters would breathlessly report that her remains had been found every time a dog bone was turned over. However, there are also media outlets that take a much more rational, cautious and deliberate approach to these troubling cases. Again, the approach is dependent upon experience, attitude, and a desire to be first as opposed to do the right thing. Personally, I believe that newspapers demonstrate the most restraint and usually provide the best overall service. That is because viable newspaper stories historically have depth based in knowledge. Conversely, the most damage can unusually be found on the blogosphere. After all, blogging requires zero experience, many bloggers exist under the cloak of anonymity, and they are not burdened by standards or ethics.
Then there is the world of non-profit agencies. We are the gray area between government and the private sector. Most non-profit child locator services exist to help the family. Although many NPO’s in our sub-category are founded with the best of intentions, not many survive long enough to pursue long term goals or intentions. Those unable to survive, and those numbers have increased these past few years, dissolve because of dissent from within, they are unable to achieve sustainable funding, or do not have the leadership and vision necessary to get beyond adrenalin driven emotional response to tragedy.
For more than 17-years the KlaasKids Foundation has worked very hard to bring order to our approach. We attempt to respond to all aspects of the missing child issue with professional standards and reason. We adhere to proven protocols, some of which we have developed and others that we have adopted from other agencies. We represent families as we seek the cooperation of law enforcement, community and media. In other words, we try to bring order and provide hope to families that are frozen in fear as they try not to seek salvation beyond hope.
Our most critical, difficult and sensitive work is always in the immediate aftermath of tragedy. We talk with families, offer counsel and resources and when necessary intervene with search and rescue resources. We must demonstrate to law enforcement that our participation will enhance their efforts, will remove responsibility from their overburdened shoulders, and that we can be trusted with a seat at the table. This kind of trust will never be assumed, but must be earned every time that we show up at the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, resistance has not decreased as our portfolio has increased. Therefore, we must continue to pursue the dual goals of bringing order to chaos, and assisting in the recovery of missing persons.