CINCINNATI — The mother accused of harming her then-4-year-old son while he was a patient at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center pleaded guilty in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning.
Jessica Valik, 25, was charged in October with one count of felonious assault and one count of endangering a child after police accused her of injecting a substance into her son’s feeding tube.
Prosecutors said Valik pleaded down to a misdemeanor child endangering charge, which could mean up to six months in jail.
Court documents state that Valik injected Benadryl into the boy’s feeding tube but do not indicate a motive.
Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Julie Wilson told WCPO last fall that Valik’s son was being treated at Children’s Hospital for epidermolysis bullosa — known as EB, for short — a rare, congenital skin disorder. Children suffering from the disease are often referred to as “butterfly children” because their skin is said to be as fragile as a butterfly’s wings.
The condition causes painful blistering, scarring and missing skin.
Prosecutor Joe Deters said the boy suffered diarrhea as a result of the injections. Hospital staff became suspicious of Valik after the child had extensive treatment with no medical reason for the diarrhea, Deters said. The charges against Valik arose from an investigation that involved witness testimony, court documents indicated.
WCPO first heard about Valik and her son in August, when some friends of hers reached out hoping to spread awareness about the boy’s disease. Valik brought her son from New York to Cincinnati for treatment at Children’s Hospital.
A website set up to chronicle the boy’s treatment stated that his daily regimen includes bleach baths and bandage changes that can take between four and eight hours to complete. The boy has received hundreds of transfusions and two bone marrow transplants, Valik said on the site.
As of now, there is no cure for EB.
Valik is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.