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Woman Who Battered Infant, Faked Cancer Gets 6 to 12 Years in State Prison

February 10, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Schorn, 215.348.6337, jmschorn@buckscounty.org

A Levittown woman who severely beat and abused her baby daughter and then pretended to have ovarian cancer to garner sympathy was sentenced today in Bucks County Court to serve six to 12 years in state prison.

The injuries inflicted by Ashley Reichard on her 11-month-old daughter two summers ago were described in court by a pediatric child abuse expert, a veteran prosecutor and the sentencing judge as being among the worst they had encountered. The baby suffered multiple skull fractures, an upper leg fractured in two places, fractures on both sides of her jaw, bruising from blows to her face and lower back, a perforated eardrum, a scratched cornea, and second-degree burns on both thighs.

Reichard had pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Oct. 6 to felony and misdemeanor charges that included aggravated assault on a child and perjury. The perjury charge stemmed from lies Reichard told under oath before a Bucks County investigative grand jury.

Reichard had tried to gain sympathy by telling the grand jury that she was being treated at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Jeanes Hospital for stage 2 ovarian cancer. A detective who served Reichard with a grand jury subpoena at her home found her with a bald head and missing eyebrows. Investigators found that she did not have cancer and was not being treated at Fox Chase or Jeanes.  

Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. sentenced Reichard to serve six to 12 years in state prison for the aggravated assault on a child, followed by seven years of probation for perjury. The sentence exceeded state sentencing guidelines.

“I don’t know if any of us has seen injuries to a child like this,” Bateman told Reichard, 27, of Bristol Township. “What you did to the child is, quite frankly, unspeakable.”

The child, now 2 ½ years old, has recovered fully from her injuries and is “an adorable and loving little girl,” testified her father, Aaron Karoly, with whom she now lives. He said she is speaking and learning well, running and playing with no problems, and “growing by leaps and bounds.”

Bateman told Reichard she would have been spending all or most of her life in prison had the child been killed or permanently disabled. “I want you to understand how lucky you are today,” he said.

For nearly a year after the girl’s injuries first were reported, Reichard refused to admit that she had caused them. It was only while undergoing an in-depth mental health assessment at the Bucks County Correctional Facility in July that Reichard began crying uncontrollably and admitted in detail what she had done.

“She fell apart,” recalled Dr. Frank Dattilio, a forensic psychologist who testified in court as an expert witness for the defense. “She told me very graphically what she did. It was hard for me to listen.”

Reichard told Dattilio that she had slammed her daughter to the floor about six times. On another occasion, she had placed the girl unbuckled into her stroller, then forcefully dumped her out of the stroller so that the baby fell face-first onto a cement walkway. Finally, she admitted picking her daughter up and smashing her head into the floor. The origins of the burns on the baby’s legs were never determined.

“That week is a week of hell” for the baby, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn told Bateman. “The multiplicity of these injuries is horrific. This child could have died.”

Despite the obvious injuries inflicted, Schorn noted, Reichard did not seek medical help for the baby until forced by others to do so.

Dr. Carla Parkin-Joseph, a pediatrician and child-abuse expert, described the baby as “a battered child” by the time she examined her on July 14, 2014, at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Probably one of the worst cases I’ve seen in my experience,” she said.

Reichard initially tried to blame Karoly for the girl’s injuries, causing him to lose his visitation rights for six months before his name was cleared. Before her unexpected confession to Dr. Dattilio, she had shifted the blame to a second boyfriend she had been with around the time the abuse occurred.

Dattilio testified that Reichard suffers from a “mixed bag” of psychological and addictive maladies that make a definitive diagnosis difficult. He said that he had concluded that Reichard did not meet the legal standard of insanity, but that her mental illness had made it impossible for her to conform her behavior to the requirements of the law.

Citing a long history that included a dysfunctional home life, parental abuse, depression, anxiety, drug abuse and other factors, Dattilio said that had Reichard begun to receive psychiatric care and medication at an early age, her crimes might not have been committed.

“I think she is sick, and she needs treatment,” defense attorney Richard Fink said in court. Reichard’s confession, he said, “is the first step toward a real redemption.”

Apologizing for her crimes, Reichard told Bateman, “I know I can be the mother I should have been before everything spiraled out of control.”

Bateman responded that while he believed that Reichard is a “master manipulator,” he also believed that her mental illness was partly responsible for her conduct. The judge said that she needed to be successfully treated and medicated in prison before being released, and then subjected to a lengthy period of supervision on probation.

Approved for release by Daniel B. Sweeney, Deputy District Attorney.


35 Comments

  1. 35 confidential 20 Apr
    I don't think Ashley was sentenced to enough time. She should spend the rest of her life behind bars. I would also say to investigate her mother Lynn. She was abusive to Ashley and now to her younger children. Talk to people, neighbors.
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