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Mother Punished In Obese Daughter’s Death

SATURDAY, JAN. 10, 1998

A woman whose 680-pound, 13-year-old daughter died on a filthy bedsheet surrounded by empty food cartons was found guilty Friday of misdemeanor child abuse, escaping conviction on far more serious charges.

“I can live with it,” Marlene Corrigan, 48, said quietly.

Had the judge convicted her of felony child abuse following the non-jury trial, Corrigan could have gotten up to six years in prison.

As it stands, she faces a maximum of six months at sentencing Feb. 27. Defense attorney Michael Cardoza said Corrigan would probably get probation and community service. “It’s a victory,” Cardoza said.

Corrigan’s daughter, Christina, died of heart failure in November 1996. The girl was found naked, lying on the living room floor. She was covered in bedsores, with feces caught in the folds of her flesh.

Corrigan had said she had taken care of her daughter the best she could. Although the girl had been to the doctor many times, she had not seen one in the last five years.

The case had drawn attention to obesity and what some activists consider prejudice against overweight people. Some questioned whether Corrigan would have been charged at all had her daughter weighed less.

Prosecutor Brian Haynes said that he was not claiming that raising a fat child is a crime. He said Corrigan was charged because of the condition of Christina’s body, in particular the bedsores.

The defense portrayed Corrigan as a woman overtaxed by the duties of working full time and taking care of two sick parents - both of whom also died in 1996. They also introduced evidence that Christina may have suffered from compulsions to overeat, pick at sores and hide the results.


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