The trial began Thursday for a Mauston woman charged with abuse of a child in 2007.
Stacy L. Hartje, 30, is charged with first-degree reckless injury, child abuse causing great harm and first-degree recklessly endangering safety — all felonies.
The charges stem from alleged abuse by Hartje of a boy, then 3 ½, in her home in Mauston where she provided day care for the boy and other children.
Opening arguments began Thursday afternoon in the trial, which is scheduled to continue next week.
“He has permanent disabilities as a result of the defendant,” Assistant Attorney General Annie Jay, one of two special prosecutors in the case, told the jury Thursday.
The boy, who today is 11, suffers from learning disabilities, walks with a limp and has limited use of his right arm stemming from life-threatening swelling and bleeding in the brain. Physicians in Madison performed emergency surgery to remove a portion of the boy’s skull to relieve pressure on his swollen brain and save his life.
Hartje was originally charged in January 2008. A judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence the following October at the recommendation of then-Juneau County Distinct Attorney Scott Southworth.
Similar charges were filed against Hartje in March 2012 following a review by the state Department of Justice that Southworth said he and Sheriff Brent Oleson requested following the 2008 dismissal. Oleson requested and received special funding to pay for the investigation from the Juneau County Board of Supervisors.
Hartje called 911 at about 12:46 p.m. June 7, 2007, to report the boy had been eating when he suddenly collapsed to the floor in an apparent seizure. In the 911 call, which was played in court Thursday, a sobbing and distraught Hartje told an operator — who asked whether the boy was still showing signs of a seizure — that he was breathing, but stiff and apparently unconscious.
“No, he’s just laying here but he won’t wake up or anything,” Hartje said.
Defense attorney Jonas Bednarek told the jury in an opening statement that the boy had suffered a life-changing seizure that Hartje had nothing to do with.
“The blame and the fault don’t lie with Stacy Hartje any more than they lie with (the victim),” Bednarek said.
The boy’s mother was the first witness to testify Thursday. She testified her son had been in good health and acting normally when she took him to Hartje’s residence the morning of the incident. The Star-Times is withholding the mother’s name in order to protect the identity of the boy.
The most serious of the three charges against Hartje carries a possible prison sentence of 25 years.