Doctors offer opposite opinions on whether boy’s fracture was child abuse

By Ed Runyan


Two emergency-room doctors gave opposite opinions in court Wednesday on whether the broken arm Michael Tenney’s grandson suffered a year ago when he was 5 was caused by child abuse.

Tenney, 64, is on trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, accused of causing the injury by yanking on the boy’s arm while baby-sitting him and his little brother at Tenney’s Champion home.

Tenney’s defense team is arguing that the injury happened when the boy jumped or fell from a couch at his grandfather’s house.

The boy initially told authorities it happened that way but later said his grandfather caused it by yanking on it while angry at him.

Dr. Mark Swift of the Trumbull Regional Medical Center, who examined the boy last January at the time of the injury, concluded that the boy’s supracondylar fracture, meaning a fracture just above the elbow, did not come from a fall.

“I didn’t believe that from the extensiveness of the injury,” Dr. Swift testified Wednesday.

Swift said he thinks the injury is consistent with twisting or pulling the arm.

“I’ve never seen a patient fall from a couch and have an injury like that,” he said. “It’s not something you would see from a simple fall.”

But Dr. William Hauda, who was hired by the defense, testified the opposite.

Dr. Hauda, a pediatric emergency-room doctor and medical director of a child-abuse assessment team in Virginia, said the boy had a fracture that is “very common in children between 4 and 7” and mostly results from falls.

If someone yanked on the forearm of a boy this age, the more likely result would be a condition called a nursemaid’s elbow in which the elbow has slipped out of its normal place, Dr. Hauda said.

Among the other witnesses Wednesday was William Evans II, who gives lie-detector tests.

Evans testified that Tenney took a lie-detector test in which he agreed that the results could be used in court.

The results showed that Tenney was not truthful when asked whether he broke the boy’s arm and admitted that he had consumed six to eight beers the day the boy suffered the injury.

If Tenney is convicted, he could get about 10 years in prison. The trial resumes today.

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