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East Freedom woman gets prison term

Paulsen accused of failure to protect child

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County judge has imposed a three-month county prison sentence on an East Freedom woman whose child was a victim of physical abuse requiring two brain surgeries.

On behalf of 35-year-old Mandie Lee Paulsen, Assistant Public Defender Ted Krol tried to convince Judge Wade Kagarise to impose only probation because Paulsen already had her parental rights terminated.

“The loss of her children is the most punishment she can endure,” Krol said.

But failure to protect her children from an abusive boyfriend warrants jail time, Assistant District Attorney Deanne Paul told Kagarise. She proposed a minimum six-month prison sentence followed by parole for a maximum 24-month sentence.

Paulsen’s former boy­friend, James Robert McCloskey Jr., 35, is serving three to six years in prison after rendering a no-contest plea to aggravated assault of a child less than 13.

State police at Hollidaysburg filed charges against both in 2016 after an investigation into the physical condition of Paulsen’s two children, then 2 and 5 years old. They were scheduled for trial in August until they entered no contest pleas.

During her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Paulsen told Kagarise that despite a troubled childhood and an abusive husband she left in California, she has been a law-abiding person.

She moved to Blair County in November 2015, and connected with McCloskey who was punitive with her children, Krol said.

“I’ve never even had so much as a jaywalking ticket,” Paulsen told Kagarise in asking for probation. Staying out of jail, she said, would allow her to continue an educational pursuit, maintain a job and address some health-related conditions.

Kagarise acknowledged Paulsen’s efforts and that she has been compliant with rules imposed by the county’s parole and probation office while her case was pending.

But the judge, who looked at pictures Paul provided of the injured children, concluded that some incarceration was warranted “because of the harm that occurred.”

The judge’s decision to impose a three-month county prison sentence, followed by parole for a maximum 18-month sentence, prompted Paulsen to cry. And after court recessed, she sobbed in the arms of two female companions.

Her date to report to prison was set for Jan. 17, allowing her to keep some scheduled medical appointments and to forward relevant information to the prison.

Paulsen, when addressing Kagarise, recalled the date of Jan. 25, 2016, when she and McCloskey took her 2-year-old child to Nason Hospital, Roaring Spring.

“He collapsed in my arms when we were playing in the snow … that was the most single terrifying moment of my life,” Paulsen told Kagarise.

Further investigation revealed that the boy’s brain had shifted to the left because of trauma and that he had extensive bruising on his legs and buttocks.

He was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital and underwent surgery to remove a portion of his skull to accommodate the swelling around his brain, Paul said. The child underwent a second surgery to restore his skull after the swelling went down, she said.

Hospital personnel also examined the boy’s 5-year-old sister who was found with marks and bruises on her buttocks and face.

The children were subsequently placed in the care of foster family.

Both Krol and Paul confirmed that Paulsen’s parental rights to the children were terminated.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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