Mother of abused child previously had children removed from home

Posted at 3:15 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 22:16:47-05

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. — As a little girl continues to fight for her life questions are being raised about whether the beating and neglect, allegedly at the hands of her parents, could have been prevented.

Three-month-old Addilyn remains hospitalized and fighting to survive, but how she ended up there is now being questioned.

"I think it is a question of 'should and could'," said legal analyst Jim Todd.

Should the Tennessee Department of Children's Service have been able to prevent the horrible abuse?

Addilyn's parents were arrested this past weekend. Her father Michael Fisher was charged with aggravated child abuse, and her mother Brooklyn Tidwell was charged with aggravated child neglect.

Tidwell has a history with DCS. The state removed two of her other children from her before Addilyn was born.

Some wonder: "Shouldn't DCS have known Tidwell had another child, who could be at risk?"

"DCS does not work to oversee adults. That's why it is called the Department of Children's Services," said Todd who is a former prosecutor in juvenile court.

He said DCS likely closed the mother's case when the other two children where safely removed. The agency would not have known about the baby unless someone filed a new report concerned about Addilyn.

At this point, it's unclear if anyone did that.

"It's possible DCS could have followed this woman, but given the resources they have and the workload they have it's extremely unlikely," said Todd.

Still others wonder why the father, who prosecutors say implicated himself in the beating of the baby, was charged with child abuse and not attempted murder.

In Tennessee, the penalty for both is the same: 15 to 30 years.

"You can have attempted murder and aggravated child abuse and have them all together when it comes out of the Grand Jury. I bet they will be," said Todd.

The prosecution will come with time, but for now, the focus is on Addilyn. She has broken bones and internal bleeding.

The family, who appreciates all the thoughts and prayers -- sees small improvement ... but there's a long way to go.

A GoFundMe account called "Hope for Addilyn" was created to help cover her medical bills and other expenses.

After this story aired, the father, Michael Fisher was given an additional charge of attempted first degree murder.