Woman placed on probation in child endangerment case
A Parryville woman was placed on probation on Monday in Carbon County court on a charge of criminal conspiracy-endangering the welfare of a child.
Stephanie Lynn Gerhart-Schuster, 27, was placed on probation for two years by Senior Judge Richard W. Webb.
Schuster was found guilty of the charge by Webb following a day long bench trial. She was not charged with causing injuries to a then 18-month old boy but for not getting medical attention for the child.
Her husband at the time, Joshua Nathanie Gerhart, 32, of Kunkletown, was also charged in the case and was found not guilty of all charges at the same bench trial.
Testimony at the trial revealed that Joshua Gerhart had shared custody with the boy's mother, Amanda Lang. He would have the boy from Thursday until Sunday. On July 29, 2004, Gerhart took custody of the boy and on Sunday he was picked up by Lang and returned to her home.
After returning home Lang was getting the boy ready for a bath when she observed severe injuries to the boy's genital area. She took him to the Lehighton hospital for treatment. Photos of the injuries were taken by Lang's mother and presented at the trial as evidence.
In his ruling Webb said there was no evidence to show who actually caused the injuries but based on the photos it was obvious that Schuster knew they existed and did nothing about it. On the Sunday in question, testimony at the trial indicated Joshua Gerhart left for work early in the morning and was not at home all day and did not return home until after Lang had picked up the child.
Schuster said she had been punished greatly by the incident. She said she worked in the health care field and lost her job when convicted by the court. She said she is now going to school to learn a new profession because she will never be able to work in the health care field again.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika said during the entire case no one has heard any remorse from the defendant for what happened. He asked the court to send a message to the public that this type of conduct would not be tolerated.
Schuster told Webb that since the incident she had cared for her three children and other children and there had been no accusations of misconduct or abuse.
Defense Atty. Stephen Vlossak said his client has not had any problems in dealing with children since her arrest in July 2006, two years after the incident occurred. He said the charge was the first criminal involvment by his client.
Webb said the incident has had a great negative effect on two families. He also told Schuster, "If I thought you were the one who caused those injuries I would sentence you in the aggravated range."
It was noted that the boy has recovered from his injuries.
Webb also ordered Schuster to have no contact with the victim, pay restitution of $1,2500 for unpaid medical bills, get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, pay court costs, $50 per month supervision fee while on probation and render three hours of communty service per month while on probation.