, Salem, MA

December 4, 2012

Child abuse suspect could face more charges

By Doug Ireland
Staff writer

---- — PLAISTOW, N.H. — The long-awaited arraignments yesterday of a Plaistow couple charged with child abuse answered some questions, but not many.

The case, which attracted national attention, has left many wondering how a mother could allegedly stand by and watch her live-in boyfriend burn and beat her 3-year-old son.

But that’s a question that 23-year-old Jessica Linscott didn’t answer during her video appearance in 10th Circuit Court yesterday. Linscott had little to say, answering “yep” to direct questions from Judge Sharon DeVries, but little else.

When DeVries asked Linscott if she had any questions of her own, she replied, “No, I just want a lawyer.”

DeVries said an attorney would be appointed to defend Linscott.

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Linscott wasn’t represented by counsel during the arraignment. At one point, the Sanborn Regional High School graduate wiped tears from her eyes.

There were no tears from Ronald Dow, 27, who faces more serious assault charges for allegedly abusing 3-year-old James, who has been hospitalized at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth for nearly 21/2 weeks.

Dow, accompanied by defense attorney Lawrence Vogelman, could face more charges, according to Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino.

He is charged with burning the child’s wrist and fingers and beating him, inflicting serious brain injuries that caused seizures. Linscott is charged with failing to protect her son from Dow.

DeVries ordered Dow held on $500,000 cash bail, an amount that Vogelman said his client could not afford.

Linscott is held on $100,000 cash bail.

“I’m not going to be able to make that bail,” she told DeVries.

Should either of them make bail, they would be barred from contacting one another or James, according to conditions DeVries imposed. Also, Linscott must live with her grandmother in Seabrook, N.H., while Dow must reside with his mother, Helen Nault of Newton, N.H. — if they post bail.

Dow already faces 10 to 30 years in prison on charges of felonious first- and second-degree assault. He also faces five counts of child endangerment for failing to seek medical care. Each of the misdemeanor counts is punishable by up to a year in jail. A probable cause hearing was scheduled for Monday.

“We have some troubling facts that are part of this investigation,” Zaino told DeVries.

Dow and Linscott were captured Wednesday at Universal Studios in Orlanda, Fla., following a two-week manhunt. The couple hid out in Haverhill before traveling to Boston, where they took a bus to New York, Zaino said. They then took a train to Florida, he said.

Both waived extradition and returned to New Hampshire over the weekend.

Linscott and Dow are accused of abandoning James at Exeter Hospital on Nov. 16. From there, he was taken to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon with multiple injuries, including temporary blindness.

The couple have maintained that the boy’s injuries were self-inflicted. Zaino said his office was provided videos to prove the child hurt himself, but they were not credible.

“It was pretty unanimous these were not self-inflicted injuries,” Zaino said.

He told reporters after the arraignments the boy’s medical condition was “status quo,” referring all questions about the case to Rockingham County Attorney James Reams. The child is in state custody.

Reams confirmed that Dow could face more charges.

Zaino did not say in court if Linscott could face additional charges, but Reams said it “totally depends on evidence.”

“We are reviewing the reports now and will make decisions after all evidence is gathered and reviewed,” Reams said.

Linscott now faces six misdemeanor counts of child endangerment. Her probable cause hearing is set for Dec. 20.

None of Dow’s or Linscott’s family members attended the arraignments. Later yesterday, no one answered the door at Nault’s Newton home.