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Woman can't recall leaving baby in toilet

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM
  • 1 Replies
The Associated Press
updated 1 hour 54 minutes ago 2011-02-09T19:02:09

A South Carolina woman accused of giving birth in a sports arena toilet and leaving her baby to die didn't know she was pregnant and can't remember the birth, her mother told a judge in court Wednesday.

"She has not shown any signs of being pregnant whatsoever," Anita McAuliffe said during a bond hearing for her daughter, Jessica Blackham.

Police said Blackham, 24, gave birth to the 6-pound boy and left him in the toilet's cold water on Friday night.

Blackham, who is also mother to a 4-year-old child, felt ill during a circus performance and went to the arena's bathroom, McAuliffe said. She told the judge that her daughter can't remember what happened next and later went to a hospital and was treated for bleeding.

Blackham was charged Tuesday with one count of felony child abuse and one count of unlawful neglect toward a child. Her bond on both charges was set at $30,000. If convicted of both charges, she could face up to 30 years in prison.

Arena workers found the asphyxiating child and called authorities. Authorities said the infant, who is now in the care of the state Department of Social Services, was in good condition at a hospital.

Prosecutor Walt Wilkins said the charges are serious because the infant was abandoned for at least 90 minutes.

"During that time a newborn needs to be in a warm atmosphere," said Wilkins, who Blackham has no criminal record.

Authorities would not discuss the identity of the infant's father. Blackham is married but is estranged from her husband, McAuliffe said.

The baby was found suffering from hypothermia, which an expert said is one of the biggest risks for babies born away from medical care. The condition could lead to infection or breathing problems if not treated quickly.

"When a baby is moist and has exposure of its skin to the air, it will lose heat very rapidly," said Dr. Christopher Robinson, a fetal and maternal medicine professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Roger Newton, president and general manager of the 13-year-old Bi-Lo Center, said he'd never encountered anything like this in his 33 years of managing arenas from Ottawa, Canada, to Miami.

Story: S.C. mom arrested after newborn found in toilet

The manager said he'd had to deal with a death during his career, but never a birth. He said the cleaning crew members deserved high praise.

"They did everything they should have, and we're very proud of them," he said.

Residents in this conservative region said they were shocked by the boy's discovery and concerned about both mother and child.

"It's unfortunate that anyone has to go that far, and wouldn't know what to do," said Lorna Sexton, 54, of nearby Taylors. "It broke my heart to hear it. Let's hope the girl, the woman, is able to get some help."


by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM
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by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:44 PM


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