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Pa. man sentenced for child abuse

December 27, 2000|By STACEY DANZUSO, Chambersburg

Pa. man sentenced for child abuse



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After a Franklin County judge told a defendant Wednesday he would no longer accept his plea agreement without an acknowledgment of guilt, the Chambersburg man admitted he has an anger management problem and was responsible for the broken arm his baby suffered in the spring.

Stephen Czwartoski, 28, of 309 E. Catherine St., had originally pleaded no contest to a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Under a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but is stating that he will offer no defense.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Walker said Wednesday the plea was not acceptable because without an admission of guilt, he did not believe Czwartoski would benefit from counseling or therapy.

"If Stephen goes into rehab and talks to his psychiatrist he's going to say 'I never did anything. I never pleaded guilty,'" Walker said. "That little kid is going to live with a dad who has an anger problem because we didn't address it."

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Czwartoski changed his plea and told Walker he broke his son's arm by accident March 10.

"My girlfriend had already gotten up to feed our daughter so she asked me to get up and feed our son. I microwaved his bottle and went to change his diaper," he said. "When I went to put him back in bed, I tripped and he slipped (out of his arms)."

Czwartoski said he reacted instinctively by grabbing the boy by his arm as he fell.

Karen Smith, the child's mother, was not aware anything was wrong until the baby woke up at noon crying inconsolably, and would not take his bottle, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Smith told police in the affidavit that Czwartoski "didn't like to care for the children and their crying made him angry."

Between November 1999 and March when the baby suffered the fracture in his right arm, Czwartoski also is blamed for other incidents of abusive incidents against his twins, Stephen and Sara.

"I broke my child's arm while feeding him," Czwartoski said after Walker asked him to repeat the sentence.

"I want you to get counseling to really open up and address your problems," Walker said.

Walker sentenced him to seven years probation, including 41 days credit for time already served and three months of electronic monitoring.

Walker said Czwartoski's visits with his twin children - now about 15 months old - would have to be supervised until his psychiatrist writes a letter to the probation board saying his anger is under control enough that he is "no longer a danger to his children" when he is alone with them.

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