2006-12-01 / Community

Rockaway Father Pleads Guilty In Daughter's Death

Beat 7-YearOld, Failed To Get Help
By Howard Schwach

A Rockaway father who had beaten his seven-year-old daughter on two successive nights in October of 2005 and then failed to get her medical attention has pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Brown identified the local man as Russell Roberts, 43, of 72-21 Hillmeyer Street in Arverne. His daughter, Sierra Roberts, who lived with her father, was transported by ambulance to Peninsula Hospital Center on November 25, 2005, the day after the beatings as a result of a 911 call and was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival.

After an examination, the Chief Medical Examiner said that Sierra's body showed massive internal injuries and numerous broken bones.

Shortly afterwards, Roberts was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter and child abuse.

Brown said, "The defendant has admitted to causing the death of his 7-year-old daughter by beating her on two occasions and thereafter failing to seek medical attention for her. The defendant - the child's natural father - was awarded custody of the child when she was three-years-old. She had previously been living with foster parents who had raised her since birth. The defendant's attack on his innocent and vulnerable daughter was both heartless and heartbreaking and, in addition to serving a lengthy prison term, the defendant will also have to live the rest of his life knowing that he robbed the child of all the possibilities that life holds."

According to the original grand jury indictment, Roberts repeatedly slammed his knee into his daughter's stomach and that he continued the assault the next day by forcing her stomach over the edge of the bed and beating her with a belt.

The indictment said that he ignored Sierra's injuries until two days after the initial attack, when he placed a 911 call and an ambulance was dispatched.

In December of last year, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), admitted that the agency did not pay enough attention to a doctor's reported suspicions that the girl was being abused by her father.

"The agency did not respond aggressively enough," the report said of its own actions after a doctor told the media that he had reported a possible child abuse when Sierra was brought into the emergency room with unjuries that the father said had been caused by him falling on top of her in an accident.

The defendant pleaded guilty on Monday to first-degree manslaughter before Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Hanophy who indicated that he would sentence the defendant to ten years in prison on December 13, 2006.

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