Dec. 22, 2001 Two-and-a-half-year-old Rasheem Todman of Tutu died late Wednesday from injuries sustained in a beating.
Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty said Friday that staff from the Human Services Department had taken the child to Roy L. Schneider Hospital after observing he had been abused.
"He died from internal injuries," Schneider Hospital spokesman Amos Carty said Friday.
He had entered the hospital earlier Wednesday and after surgery was placed in intensive care.
Carty said the boy had been previously abused but police were called into the case only after he died.
However, a report Saturday in the Daily News said police had been called in four months ago when the child turned up at the hospital with a broken wrist and burns. According to the report, the police investigation concluded Rasheem's injuries were accidental.
Carty said the case is still under investigation, but the police won't take action until the autopsy is completed.
Dilsa Capdeville, director of Kidscope Inc., a child advocacy organization, said that at least 35 children have died as a result of child abuse or neglect across the territory since the late 1970s. One of the best known cases was that of Shaquanna Arnette, a 2-year-old who died in 1992 after she was badly beaten, molested and burned on a stove.
Capdeville said her murderer was let out of jail after serving only nine months because at that time, child abuse was not a felony. Shaquanna's death spurred the Legislature to change the law.
"But calluses have grown over the heart of the community," Capdeville said.
She called on the community to again take up the cause of abused children. However, she cautioned that parents also need help so they can avoid situations that lead to child abuse. Often abusers have themselves been abused, she said.
People in the helping professions such as teachers need to watch for signs of abuse and alert the authorities, she added.
She called on parents to show understanding when their children misbehave.
Human Services Commissioner Sedonie Halbert could not be reached for comment.