A St. Charles woman who did not intercede as her boyfriend savagely beat her daughter was sentenced to eight years in prison today by a judge who said he found her lack of action unfathomable.
Cathleen Koch’s failure to act in a St. Charles motel room in October 2010 as her 23-month-old daughter was punched up to 10 times and then slammed into a bed called for a prison sentence, Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon said.
“It’s inconceivable that a loving parent wouldn’t sacrifice life and limb to protect their child,” the judge said.
The daughter, now almost 4, suffered permanent brain damage and will never be able to live independently, prosecutors said during closing arguments at the sentencing hearing.
Koch, 30, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated domestic battery and other charges. Her former boyfriend, James C. Cooper, an admitted heroin abuser, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery to a child earlier this year and is serving a 15-year prison term.
Koch asked the judge for probation so she could continue counseling and be a mother to the son she has had in the meantime. She is barred by court order from contact with her daughter.
“I’d like a second chance to show everyone I’m a good person and that no man will ever hurt my children again,” Koch said.
After sentencing, the judge allowed Koch’s infant son to be brought into the courtroom so she could hug him before she was taken into custody.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Koch did not participate in the beating.
But she failed to protect her child from Cooper and then lied to authorities about her child’s injuries and Cooper’s whereabouts after he fled from the motel where he and Koch were living, authorities said.
The toddler mostly lived with Koch’s mother and stepfather, according to testimony.
In his closing argument, Assistant State’s Atty. Joe Cullen noted that the court file contained pictures of the victim with various family members, but none of the child with Koch.
“Why is that?” Cullen asked. “It’s because it’s a myth that she cared for her daughter.”
Koch’s attorney, Liz Lovig, argued that Koch was simply unprepared for Cooper’s attack.
“She hadn’t met that kind of evil, and sometimes you don’t know it until it’s upon you,” she said.
The normal sentence range for Koch’s crime is three to seven years, though she was eligible for an term of up to 14 years because of the severity of her daughter’s injuries.