Mom sentenced in child abuse case that permanently blinded baby

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SCOTT COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – A Southwest Virginia mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for abuse and neglect of her 22-month-old child.

Doctors say the abuse was so severe, the baby is permanently blind.

Ashley Cowan was convicted on Friday of felony child abuse causing serious injury and felony child neglect related to injuries suffered by her infant son. 

The incidents related to the charges reportedly happened in early 2018. Authorities from Scott County and the Tennessee Social Services responded to a report that a one-year-old baby was in ICU at Niswonger Children’s Hospital with bilateral retinal hemorrhages.

Further, medical exams revealed more health problems including bilateral hematomas or brain bleeds, said a report. 

The baby was flown by helicopter to Carillion Medical Center in Roanoke, which specializes in pediatric neurology. Doctors there diagnosed and treated the baby for more than 100 non-accidental subdural and retinal hemorrhages. 

The trauma, said prosecutors, left the baby permanently blind.

On Friday, the court suspended six years of Cowan’s sentence and ordered that she be placed on probation for four years after her release. 

Also, included in her probation, is the condition that Cowan is prohibited from having unsupervised contacts with any minor children. 

Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Johnson stated, “The Court heard over 8 hours of emotional testimony from witnesses, including treatment providers, social workers, and law enforcement. These witnesses detailed the trauma this child experienced in the days and months following his arrival to Niswonger and the profound impact it had on their personal and professional lives.”

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