FORT WAYNE – A Fort Wayne woman was sentenced to six years in prison for neglecting her children, who were injured by her female partner.
On Wednesday, Nichole Gruss, 24, of the 1600 block of Fourth Street, was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison on two charges of neglect of a dependent. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull ordered two years of the sentence suspended and to be served on probation under the terms of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors last month.
Gruss and her partner, Tawoenyna Portee, 31, were arrested and charged in April, nearly a year after officials with the Indiana Department of Child Services went to their home to check on Gruss’ 3-year-old son.
When officials arrived, they found the boy with scrapes and bruises on his face and substantial swelling of his right elbow.
The boy told the investigators that his “mommy/daddy,” later identified as Portee, hit him with a belt, a spatula and shoes, according to court documents.
When doctors examined him, they found he had limited movement in his elbows, which prevented him from touching his elbows, according to court documents.
Later, Gruss told investigators her son had fallen and injured his arm, which was put in a wrap. She said he fell again, injuring his other arm, which was also put in a wrap. Neither Gruss nor Portee sought medical treatment for his broken arms.
Doctors said that the fractures were consisted with “repeated inflicted injuries” and were at least a month old, according to court documents.
The 3-year-old’s brother also suffered a broken rib, and again Gruss and Portee failed to seek medical care.
Portee told police she “was not trying to be funny, but I kinda consider myself to be a ghetto doctor,” meaning that she treated the injuries herself. She then said she did not know the boys had become injured, according to court documents.
Charged with battery, battery with a deadly weapon and neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury, Portee has also pleaded guilty. She will be sentenced later this month.