An Indiana woman who pleaded guilty to scalding her 4-year-old granddaughter in a hot shower for urinating on a couch has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Gretta Feil, 50, of Lebanon, will then serve four years of probation on two felony counts of aggravated battery for the “horrific abuse” she inflicted upon her granddaughter while the youngster stayed with her in April, Boone County prosecutors announced Tuesday.
“Her physical scars are healing, and we hope that this sentence today helps the healing process for her emotional scars,” Special Victim’s Prosecutor Heidi Jennings said in a statement. “The evidence suggested Gretta Feil’s abuse of this child was beginning to escalate.”
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Feil, who was watching the girl and her brother after picking them up at her son’s Alabama home in early April, was arrested later that month after child welfare workers found third-degree burns on her granddaughter’s face, scalp and genitals, the Greensburg Daily News reported.
The girl told her mother she was burned in the shower, investigators said, while other relatives told police Feil struck her with a wooden backscratcher and took her into a bathroom, a probable cause affidavit shows.
An investigation revealed Feil put the girl in the shower after she had a “wetting accident” on the couch or had cut the piece of furniture. The water temperature inside Feil’s shower reached 132 degrees in just 15 seconds and got as hot as 137 degrees after 30 seconds, the affidavit shows.
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Investigators who examined the girl said the abuse that Feil inflicted on her granddaughter can eventually lead to a child’s death if not stopped early, Jennings said.
“She’s doing good now,” Jennings told The Post Wednesday of the young victim, who is back at home in Alabama. “Her parents are very supportive of her, very supportive of the prosecution and we touch base with them quite frequently. She’s healing.”
Feil, who pleaded guilty in September, had previously claimed her granddaughter was burned after getting into “her cream and lotions” inside her apartment, but investigators determined the girl’s injuries were not accidental and could have been caused by scalding water. She’s expected to have permanent scarring as a result of her injuries, the affidavit shows.
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The 16-year sentence Feil received is the maximum for a Level 3 felony, prosecutors said. She was arrested after child welfare workers got reports of a child possibly being abused while in her care.
“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,” Jennings said in a statement. “They did what we need all persons to do – SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.”