A petition for Harper, and now one for 2-year-old boy
I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that April Baker will appear before plea court in the Northumberland County Courthouse in Sunbury on Monday.
For those who don't know, Baker, and her former boyfriend, Jason Philhower, were charged with felonies of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child and misdemeanors of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person related to a child abuse case at their apartment Jan. 12.
Philhower pleaded guilty to the endangering the welfare of children felony offense Thursday and was sentenced to six to 23 1/2 months in jail and two years on probation, and to pay $300 in fines plus other costs. He was ordered to stay away from the child.
The other charges won't be prosecuted, according to court documents.
According to police, Philhower's 2-year-old son was taken to the hospital by his aunt, Nina Philhower, after she allegedly saw Baker carry the boy by the ankle and throw him on the couch. She also heard Baker yelling, "Keep it up or you will not get anything to eat," at the child who was crying and screaming, according to police reports. Baker and Philhower allegedly also made the toddler stand in "time out" for hours with his hands outstretched against the wall. The boy was examined by Dr. Pat Bruno, who specializes in identifying and treating child abuse victims. Bruno determined the boy had a broken leg and bruises on several parts of his body. Nina told police she saw a large bruise on the boy's face and blood on his mouth.
Philhower and Baker said the boy slipped and fell in the bathroom and has low iron, so he bruises easily.
I share this information with our readers because I hope there's a petition floating around somewhere demanding the judge not be lenient with Baker. I don't know of its existence, but I have hope, since 15,100 people from all over the world signed a petition expressing outrage against the horrible treatment of Harper, a pit bull pup who was tossed off an embankment behind St. Edward Cemetery, Coal Township, Jan. 6. The puppy was found the next day and handed over to Cheryl Hill, owner of Mostly Mutts no-kill shelter, who took the dog to Sunbury Animal Hospital to begin its long recovery.
The petition's cover letter said the defendants in that case, Michael Wolfe and Angelina Coladonato, should receive the maximum sentence and should never be allowed to own animals again. They'll appear in plea court in May.
While I admire the 15,100 people who turned out in support of Harper and to protect other animals, I can't help but wonder where is the petition demanding maximum sentencing (34 years in jail and $55,000 in fines, the sum of maximum penalties for all charges) in this child abuse case? Where is the petition demanding these two never be around children again?
Someone, please, tell me there's a petition for this 2-year-old Sunbury boy.
Sadly, I won't be surprised if there isn't. A neighbor said she heard a man and a woman screaming at a crying child on several occasions, but didn't speak up. She didn't want "friction with the neighbors," according to The Daily Item. I saw a woman say the same thing to a television news crew.
Jonathan Chalkin, who lived in the apartment with Philhower and Baker, said he witnessed the pair abusing the child on several occasions, but didn't report it, according to police. He has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person, both misdemeanors, as he should be.
How do people sleep at night? I'm not saying they should have gone vigilante, but an anonymous call to the police is all it would have taken.
District Attorney Ann Targonski told the Sunbury newspaper that she rarely has a witness in child abuse cases and most reports are made by medical professionals.
God bless Nina Philhower for doing what is right by her nephew. Her actions are that of a guardian angel and a hero and we should remember her if we're ever in a similar situation.
It's been said a civilization is measured by how it cares for its weakest citizens, and if this civilization shows more concern for a dog than for a baby, I'll consider it a very sad and scary society.
This column is my official signature on a petition for the boy, should it exist: Judge William Wiest, if Baker pleads guilty in your court Monday, apply to her the full extent of the law and protect the boy, Baker's two children, any possible future children and our society as a whole from her.
Because, to quote Baker herself from a story in The News-Item, "Only a psychopath would do that to a child."
(Nicolov is an assistant editor at The News-Item and writes "Don't Get Me Started" for each Friday edition. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)