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Local News

April 5, 2013

Details emerge in assault on toddler

SALEM — When investigators confronted him about the injuries to the 2-year-old girl he’d been caring for, Juan Javier Claudio blamed the child, a prosecutor said yesterday.

The toddler, Claudio allegedly claimed, had climbed to the top of a stack of plastic storage bins and then jumped, landing on her face, he told them. A few days later, she ran into a door, he told the investigators from the Salem police and Department of Children and Families.

But neither scenario explains how the little girl sustained severe injuries last month to her neck and mouth, or the large bruise on her stomach that, doctors say, may have come from a blow that also injured her liver.

Claudio, 28, of 10 Dow St., Salem, is now facing charges that include attempted murder and two counts of assault and battery on a child causing serious injury.

Yesterday, Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley, noting the serious potential penalty Claudio is facing — up to 20 years in prison on the attempted-murder charge — and Claudio’s prior history of violating court orders, set bail at $25,000 cash.

That was the amount requested by prosecutor Kate MacDougall. She had intended to ask that Claudio be held without bail as a danger but withdrew the request because of a delay in completing a transcript of the grand jury proceedings that led to Claudio’s indictment last month.

Instead, MacDougall, who is the head of the district attorney’s family and sex crimes unit, described the child’s injuries to the judge and how prosecutors now believe they occurred.

The child was strangled, nearly to death, MacDougall told the judge.

Enough force was used to cause air to become trapped under the skin on her neck, the prosecutor said. And while she was being strangled, she apparently struggled, biting through the insides of both cheeks because “she was fighting so hard,” the prosecutor said.

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