Original article no longer available

Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)

May 9, 1998

Author: Matt Sebastian Camera Staff Writer

[]A Broomfield day care provider on Friday was charged in Boulder County Court with felony child abuse and denied custody of her two children, although she may visit them if supervised by a social services worker.

Jeanne Hickey-Hansen, 40, was arrested by Broomfield police April 29 after a 9-month-old girl she placed in cold water stopped breathing and began suffering from hypothermia. A Children’s Hospital doctor told police the child, who was in Hickey-Hansen’s care at her home, appeared to have been “held for an extensive period of time underneath the water,” according to a police report.

Defense attorney Alexander Garlin assured Judge Thomas Reed at Friday’s hearing that the child’s injuries were “completely accidental” and that the victim is now “absolutely OK.”    “Her concern now is the well being of her children,” Garlin said, “and her children are being hurt” by the family’s separation. Hickey-Hansen is living with her parents, while her two children are being cared for by her husband.

But Deputy Boulder County District Attorney Collette Cribari accused Hickey-Hansen of placing the child in a kitchen sink filled with cold water for between 30 minutes and an hour.    “If this was simply an accident, we wouldn’t file charges,” she said. “This is a near drowning … this is a child that was very near death.”

Patrice Langan, a caseworker with the Boulder County Department of Social Services, testified that the baby was “hypothermic” when emergency crews arrived and had been partially submerged in 55-degree water.    Cribari said the girl’s body temperature was 10 degrees below normal.

According to a Broomfield police report, Hickey-Hansen told investigators that she ran the baby’s head under cold water for a short time after the child bumped her forehead.

She told police she put a few inches of water in the sink, and sat the child in the water “so she could play.” Hickey-Hansen told police, according to the report, that she left the kitchen for one minute, and upon returning found the girl in the fetal position in the cold water.     The child’s face was partially submerged in the water and she was unresponsive, Hickey-Hansen told police.

A Children’s Hospital doctor told investigators that the child was in “very critical condition” and apparently suffered from “cold water immersion, wherein the baby was held for an extensive period of time underneath the water causing oxygen deprivation and seizures.”

Testimony Friday revealed that Hickey-Hansen has been under psychiatric care for some time, is taking the anti-depressant Prozac and has attempted suicide at least twice. Prosecutors also said that on April 18 Hickey-Hansen overdosed on alcohol and drugs, an incident Reed specifically cited in denying Garlin’s request that the day-care mom be allowed to return home and care for her children.

The judge said he would allow her to visit her 7-year-old and 16-month-old sons if supervised by a social service worker. He agreed to reconsider the overall no-contact order after hearing from Hickey-Hansen’s psychiatrist.

Hickey-Hansen had been prohibited contact with any children younger than 18 since, including her own, since being freed on $25,000 bond last week.

She is slated to appear again in court June 2 for a preliminary hearing.