BOONE COUNTY, Ind.– A Boone County woman received her sentence Tuesday for burning and disfiguring her granddaughter.
Gretta Feil, 50, was sentenced to 12 years in the Indiana Department of Correction, followed by four years on probation for two counts of aggravated battery. The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office says 16 years is the maximum sentence for a level 3 felony.
According to court documents filed in the case, the victim was rushed to the hospital after police took her to the child advocacy center in Lebanon.
A nurse practitioner with the hospital’s abuse team told police that the victim suffered extensive burns to her face, scalp and privates. They said the child would have permanent scarring and disfigurement.
The court document say that the nurse practitioner claimed the incidents were not accidental and the burns to the child’s face could have been caused by hot water. Feil explained the burns by saying the girl got into her creams and lotions. She also says other adults dragged her over the carpet.
The nurse practitioner also told police that the girl was covered with bruises that they consider above and beyond what a normal child at that age would have from everyday activities. She said over time, these incidents could have escalated and potentially resulted in death.
While investigating the cause of the injuries, police learned that the victim was visiting Feil in early April and was expected to return home Easter Weekend. However, Feil told the girl’s parents that Indiana was on lockdown due to COVID-19 and the state lines were closed. It was not until later that the parents learned that this was not the case.
The Department of Child Services says its investigation indicated that Feil put the girl in the shower after she had a wetting accident or cutting the couch. The detective on the case was concerned that the damage might have been done by hot water and noted while searching Feil’s residence that the water quickly reached 120°F and reached 137°F within 30 seconds.
The American Burn Association (ABA) says it only takes 5 minutes for a third degree burn to occur if water is 120°F, and 15 seconds when water is 133°F. However, the ABA says young children have thinner skin, resulting in deeper burns than adults for the same temperature and exposure time to a scalding substance.
“This child suffered horrific abuse. Her physical scars are healing, and we hope that this sentence today helps the healing process for her emotional scars. The evidence suggests that Gretta Feil’s abuse of this child was beginning to escalate. The Riley Child Protection Team who examined the child stated that often this pattern of abuse, if not stopped early like in this case, can eventually result in the child’s death,” said Special Victim’s Prosecutor Heidi Jennings.
“Every person in this community can help us protect our children,” she said. “We are thankful to every person who intervened and saved this child’s life, especially the neighbors who did not ignore the child’s cries of distress. They did what we need all persons to do – SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.”