The 25-year-old Davenport mother of a severely abused toddler will serve 10 years in prison.
Taylor Moss, who will be 26 on Sept. 20, was sentenced Friday to serve five years for two charges of child endangerment and 10 years for a charge of neglect of a dependent person. She will serve the sentences concurrently, at the same time instead of one after the other.
She pleaded guilty to all three charges in connection to incidents in 2020 that left her son hospitalized for some time.
“I first off would like to thank you and the rest of the court for taking the time to hear me and allow me to take responsibility for my actions publicly,” Moss said Friday during the online sentencing hearing.
“I will not stand here and tell you this road has been an easy one,” Moss said. “I have made many mistakes in my life, but this was the biggest one of all. (Her son) and the other children deserve a better version of me than what I was giving them, or myself,” she said.
“Your honor, I want you to know I will accept any outcome you give me.”
Judge Stuart Werling referred to the “horror of the inactions” of Moss, “who allowed her boyfriend to repeatedly and viciously beat and abuse a small, helpless and defenseless child.”
(Werling referred to Justin Perkins, 38, who faces felony charges involving the abuse of the little boy. Further court proceedings for Perkins are set for Jan. 18, 2022, with a jury trial set for Feb. 7, 2022.)
“The monumental abuse that was visited upon this child cannot be properly addressed by probation or a deferred judgment,” Werling said. “I believe justice requires, and in this case cries out for, incarceration.”
“The most favorable thing the court can say is she was not the perpetrator of the violence,” he said. He ordered Moss to be taken to the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchelville.
Moss’s attorney, Rebecca Ruggero, called Moss “one of the more humble criminal defendants I’ve ever met.” She arranged to vacate her apartment and gave notice at work knowing there was a good chance she would go to prison, Ruggero said.
“She ended the relationship (with Perkins) last September,” Ruggero said. “She has been working with DHS (Department of Human Services) this entire time. She has never missed one single visit.”
The judge said Moss’s guilt is “the guilt of a parent who stands by when abuse is happening.”
“The investigation points to the boyfriend as the person who was abusing the child. The abuse that was visited upon this child was horrific. He was punched, apparently. He was kicked, apparently. He suffered serious injuries,” Werling said. “Medical experts who examined the child indicated he suffered multiple and repeated injuries for which he did not receive care.”
“This is not an incident that happened one time.” Moss, he said, “completely failed … in her number one duty, which is to protect her child.”
Multiple incidents of abuse
On July 12, 2020, Davenport police began an investigation involving an unresponsive 2-year-old boy at a Genesis Medical Center, an arrest affidavit says.
The child was diagnosed with a perforated bowel, which required surgery. An abdomen x-ray showed the child had rib fractures of varying ages.
He was transferred to University Hospitals, Iowa City, because of the severity of his injuries, and was not discharged until Aug. 4.
During the investigation, Moss said she had given the child a bath and she believed he inhaled some water. He threw up then became motionless.
Moss admitted she thought the boy was dying and, instead of calling 911, placed him in an ice bath to try to have him regain consciousness.
She eventually called 911 after direction from her boyfriend’s mother.
She said she and her boyfriend have been the only caretakers for the boy since March, and said she had no knowledge as to how the injuries occurred.
The affidavit says, according to police, a perforated bowel is caused by “high energy bursting forces or direct blows to the abdomen.”
When he was taken to Genesis, the toddler had new rib fractures to the seventh and eighth ribs. He also had partially healed rib fractures to the 10th and 11th ribs on the right side and partially healed fractures on the ninth, 10th and 11th ribs on the left side.
Additionally, he had two rib fractures completely healed on the eighth and ninth ribs on the left side.
Because of the three different healing stages of rib fractures, “there would have been three different intentional assaults inflicted upon the child, causing multiple serious injuries within the time span of four to six weeks,” the affidavit says.
The injuries happened from about May through July, police say, on the 1000 block of Scott Street, Davenport.