OREM (News4Utah) – Robbie MacDonald was sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty to child abuse. He will serve 1-6 years in jail, but the prosecutor says he never took full responsibility for what happened.
Prosecutor Craig Johnson said, “It’s a miracle he’s alive, this was the most severe abuse I’ve ever seen on a child that lived.”
Gabriel Morales was a happy and healthy 10-month-old when his mother’s boyfriend, MacDonald, babysat him five years ago. Doctors believe Gabe suffers from shaken baby syndrome. He’s now quadriplegic, suffers from cerebral palsy, and is nearly blind.
Becca Morales is Gabe’s aunt; she spoke at the trial and told the judge what the last five years have been like for her family. Gabe’s health has stabilized recently, but for years he was constantly in pain and was life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital five times.
She says despite the pain MacDonald caused her family, they have learned to forgive. She said, “When you allow someone who has wronged you to go through life without the weight of your resentment, you free yourself from that weight too.”
Gabe can’t speak yet, but he’s learning to use a communication tool that allows him to say ‘yes’. Morales says through this tool, the family has discovered that Gabe loves the water and the opera. She said, “After being able to communicate with that switch, I’ve been able to see cognitively that he is in there, and I think he’s aware of his limitations, and in spite of that, he’s a joyful boy, he’s a light.”
Morales said her family’s faith got them through. “We had to rely really heavily on principles of faith and rely on a higher power, on the Lord to be able to heal a lot of what we dealt with.”
Of you suspect a child is being abused, resources are available. You can call the Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at1-855-323-3237.
The Utah Children’s Justice Center is also dedicated to helping communities respond to these allegations. There are 20 locations across the state and they are administered by the Utah Attorney General.