LOCKPORT – A Town of Lockport woman who was accused of trying to drown her 11-month-old daughter by repeatedly submerging her in the bathtub was sentenced to seven years in state prison Friday.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon imposed the term on Crystal N. Curthoys, 25, who pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to two counts of second-degree assault in exchange for a promise of concurrent sentencing. Sheldon tacked on three years of post-release supervision and a protective order barring any contact between mother and daughter for eight years after Curthoys’ release from prison.
The girl, now nearly 2 years old, is being raised by Curthoys’ adoptive mother, who took custody of Curthoys, a longtime victim of child abuse herself, when Curthoys was 17. The defendant formerly lived in Louisiana, where the state spent $100,000 on mental health treatments for her.
Assistant Public Defender Michele G. Bergevin quoted Curthoys as telling a probation officer in a presentencing interview: “I can’t believe I’ve turned into the person who beat me as a child.”
The crime occurred July 2 in Curthoys’ home on Hollywood Drive in the Woodlands mobile home park. The infant’s head allegedly was held underwater for 20 to 40 seconds three consecutive times, Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said.
“Physically, at least, she has recovered from this incident, which I think is a miracle,” Sloma said.
But Patricia Curthoys, the adoptive mother of the defendant, said in a statement to the court, read aloud by Sloma, that there has been some impact on the girl.
“She will not take a bath in a regular tub, nor go into a swimming pool,” the statement said. “We tried baby swim class at the YMCA. She melted down.”
Bergevin, who asked Sheldon to impose a sentence of probation, said she was not trying to minimize the incident, but she told the judge, “Given the age and the nature of the injuries, she’s probably not going to remember what happened.”
However, Bergevin conceded that Crystal Curthoys should “absolutely not” have custody of her daughter. The baby’s father is dead.
Bergevin noted that Crystal Curthoys called Patricia Curthoys and had her drive the baby to the hospital after the incident. If she had been trying to kill the girl, “I don’t think that’s a step she would have taken,” the defense attorney said.
Bergevin also cited a psychiatrist’s report that rated Crystal Curthoys as borderline retarded and said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the beatings inflicted on her as a child.
“She’s very childlike, your honor,” Bergevin told Sheldon. “Putting a person of her limited mental capacity in state prison is just not right.”
The weeping defendant said that she was “motivated” to take anger management and cognitive therapy courses and take her medications properly.
“I’m telling you, I don’t believe you love your daughter,” the judge told Crystal Curthoys. “That may be because you don’t know how to love. There needs to be accountability for the wounds you inflicted on this gorgeous child.”