Wednesday January 16, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- After being accused of biting her toddler in the shoulder because the child had bitten her, a Pleasant Street woman was held without bail Monday after entering not guilty pleas to charges of assault and child cruelty.

Christina F. Crandall, 20, was charged with a felony count of domestic assault -- prior conviction, and a misdemeanor count of cruelty to a child under 10. A bail hearing was scheduled to take place Tuesday was put off until Wednesday owing to a conflict of interest with the Public Defender's Office.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Jason Burnham, on Sunday at 10:20 p.m. he was dispatched to Pleasant Street for a report of a 2-year-old having been bitten by her mother. There he spoke to Jonathan Ruggles, the child's legal guardian and uncle, who told police he had heard from Michael Darby, Crandall's boyfriend, that Crandall had bitten the child the night before.

According to Burnham, he spoke to Crandall who began to yell at him and say she had no idea what he was talking about. Burnham wrote that he asked to see the child's shoulder, and as Crandall showed him she made an effort to hide a red mark there. Burnham wrote he saw distinct teeth marks on the child's shoulder and asked Crandall how they had come to be. He wrote that Crandall said she did not know what the marks were or how they had gotten on the child and denied biting the girl.


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According to Burnham, Crandall said only she, Darby, and the staff at the daycare they use have access to the child and added that Darby must have done the biting. Burnham said Crandall was upset and yelling the entire time they were speaking.

Burnham said the child went with Ruggles back to his home where police then met with Darby.

Darby told police that on Saturday he saw Crandall pull the child's hair. He did not notice a bite mark until Crandall told him about it, and according to Darby she said she had bitten the child because the child bit her first and she wanted the child to know how it felt. Darby told police this happened late at night and Crandall has been throwing him out of the apartment frequently so he did not do anything at the time. Darby said he told Ruggles because Darby himself was abused as a child and the matter had been on his mind for much of the day.