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Superior Court Judge Kevin P. McMahon told Griswold foster mother Jami M. Littlefield that she went "way beyond the line" as he sentenced her to 100 days in prison for paddling a 4-year-old foster child with a wooden spoon.
Littlefield, 51, of 13 Rixtown Road, will be on probation for two years following her release and will be allowed to care only for children who are related. She had pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. As she stood before the judge in her sweat suit, prepared to enter the prison system, Littlefield quietly apologized for the incident. She said she had been ill with bronchial pneumonia and that she did not intend to hurt the child.
"The picture of the 4-year-old's buttocks was ugly, that's for sure," the judge said. "It was too severe of discipline, that's for sure."
According to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by state trooper Paul Piper of Troop E in Montville, the child's biological mother, Elisabeth Land, noticed bruises on her daughter's buttocks during a supervised visit on Jan. 11. The mother said the girl was wearing baggy pants, and when the child bent over to pick up a toy, the mother saw what appeared to be a handprint on her lower back and a bruise on her buttocks.
Littlefield initially denied hitting the child but eventually agreed to provide state police with a statement, according to the affidavit. She said she was home sick from her job at Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the girl was "acting out throughout the evening" and had struck Littlefield's granddaughter, who is also 4. Littlefield said she pulled down the girl's pants and "paddled her butt" with a wooden spoon that she had been using to stir soup after the girl told Littlefield she was going to kill her, called her a racial slur and spat at her several times.
The mother reported the injuries to a child advocate who was supervising the visit, and the advocate took the girl to Pequot Health Center, according to the affidavit. Medical staff determined the girl had contusions on her buttocks that appeared to have been caused by the repeated strikes of a blunt instrument.
The girl's mother did not attend the sentencing but wrote a letter to the judge. The child remains in custody of the Department of Children and Families, according to court officials.
Littlefield, who had been a foster parent for eight years, voluntarily surrendered her license, according to her husband, Robert Littlefield. He said he and his wife were not adequately trained to handle a child with such severe problems. He said the little girl had thrown a chair at his grandchild that day.
"My wife doesn't deserve what she got," the husband said.
Sally Rocawich, a family friend, said the child should have been placed in a therapeutic home and that Littlefield had asked the DCF to place her elsewhere.
The plea agreement that Littlefield accepted had been worked out by prosecutor Thomas DeLillo and defense attorney Peter Catania.