GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - Dozens of stuffed bunnies were piled in Greenville's Julie's Coffee Shop Tuesday, all waiting hopefully for a 2-year-old girl who remains on life support to recover.
Authorities haven't confirmed whether the head trauma 2-year-old Brooklyn sustained March 24 was the result of abuse.
But it is known that she was treated in 2012 after sustaining injuries that doctors said were the result of abuse. A police report 24 Hour News 8 obtained described Brooklyn as getting "hit multiple times severely in the face, neck, and ear area on her body." It also said that doctors concluded the little girl had been "physically assaulted by an adult."
Family court documents described doctors finding a hand print bruise on her cheek, bruising on her forehead, grab mark bruises on her shoulder, bruising over her right eye and neck along with scratches, blood pooled under her skin and ear, abrasions under her nose, and black and blue lips.
The problem, Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause said, was that there wasn't enough evidence to charge anyone criminally with abuse.
"There were multiple adults in the situation," said Krause. "No one came forward to say one or the other did it. Obviously this child couldn't tell us because at time [she] was a year old. There were no other kids that could tell us."
Krause said agencies involved did everything they could.
"Obviously we're at this point where this child is in critical condition, but again, the legal system didn't fail this child," said Krause. "Nobody should blame the legal system, or the courts, or the prosecutor's office or DHS because everybody did what they were supposed to do, followed through on what they were supposed to do -- but then ultimately obviously things went bad somewhere and again, the people who did this abuse to her are the ones to blame."
Krause said her office did file a non-criminal neglect case. Brooklyn was then put in the custody of her legal father, a man who had no allegations of abuse against him. He declined to talk to 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.
Krause said the father gave up custody after a few months -- she didn't know all the details as to why -- and the girl ended up back with her mom.
Krause said her office didn't know the girl had been returned to her mother, but that there's a good chance no one could have done about it.
"While we would love to protect every child in every situation possible, I mean, reality is you can't do that. And there's no way to have foreseen, given that [the mother] had completed all the services DHS asked her to do, that ... something was going to happen again at somebody's hands," Krause said.
The mother's boyfriend, Ben Wilkins, was jailed for a probation violation and a charge of obstructing justice. According to court documents, help for the girl was delayed after Wilkins made up stories because he did not want authorities to get involved. It was nearly a half-hour before Wilkins called 911.
On Tuesday, 24 Hour News 8 went to the home where Wilkins and Brooklyn's mother had been living. A woman who answered the door there wouldn't not give her identity but said that she didn't know anything about Brooklyn's condition. She also said, "I know that Ben is not coming back here."
Krause said she expects a full detailed report of the criminal investigation either this week or next.
A stuffed animal bunny drive has been started at Julie's Coffee Shop in Greenville. It's called "Bunnies for Brooklyn." An employee at the shop said the bunnies will continue to be collected through next week and regardless of the outcome of this case, the toys will be donated to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Information on donating a stuffed bunny
A driver escaped safely after its vehicle crashed into the Grand River in Ottawa County Friday morning.
We get a brief break from the "lake-effect machine" Friday.
A few flurries occurred Thursday night. Lows held in the teens and the wind relaxed to the 5 to 10 mph range, with 20s at the Lake Michigan.