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Published January 29, 2014, 01:02 PM

Grand Forks woman faces felony abuse charges in babysitting case

Grand Forks, ND - A Grand Forks woman appeared Tuesday on three felony counts of child abuse or neglect alleging she inflicted bruises, scratches and other marks on an infant last year.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Forum News Service, Grand Forks Herald, Forum News Service

Grand Forks, ND - A Grand Forks woman appeared Tuesday on three felony counts of child abuse or neglect alleging she inflicted bruises, scratches and other marks on an infant last year.

Jensa Fish, 24, was charged Dec. 31 with three counts of Class B felony abuse or neglect of a child under 6.

“These are very serious charges, you are looking at a total of 30 years imprisonment,” possible on conviction, state District Judge Karen Braaten told her in setting her bond at $5,000 cash or surety. Each count carries a top prison sentence of 10 years.

Steve Conley, Grand Forks police investigator, said in an affidavit that Fish provided care for the girl, now about 18 months old, on three occasions over the past year — last January, August and September — after which the girl’s parents “noted significant and visible injuries,” on the girl. Mostly they were red marks that turned into large bruises, according to Conley.

Fish’s boyfriend is a relative of the girl’s mother and she told the victim’s mother her own young children might have accidentally caused some of the marks and that a fall seen by her child caused some.

But Dr. Arnie Graff, a child abuse pediatrician, concluded from photos the injuries were “very concerning,” appeared to be “inflicted,” and that it was unlikely an adult caring for the child would not hear her cry, Conley said in his affidavit. Conley said some bruises appeared to have “finger prints.”

Fish said Tuesday during her initial appearance she has her own children who need her and said she’s never been charged with any crime before.

She denied watching the baby girl on two of the occasions for which she is charged.

“The only time was I watched her was August,” she told Braaten, who warned her not to make any statements about the facts of the case during her initial appearance when she has no attorney.

Braaten set her bond at $5,000 cash or surety and set her preliminary hearing and/or arraignment for Feb. 24.

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