An Eldridge woman admitted Thursday that she “knowingly” failed to properly treat her young son’s rare genetic disorder, which nearly led to the boy's death in February 2016.
Valarie R. Clark, 30, pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court to neglect or abandonment of a dependent person, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She also could receive probation.
The plea is open, meaning prosecutors can make any recommendation when she is sentenced June 8.
District Court Judge Joel Barrows accepted her guilty plea but said he will hold off on approving the terms of the plea agreement until he receives a presentence report, which will outline the details of the offense and Clark's background and criminal history.
Clark, who remains free on bond, initially faced a charge of child endangerment, a forcible Class C felony punishable by a mandatory sentence of up to 10 years.
Police say Clark's son suffers from PKU, a disorder characterized by the inability of the body to process proteins.
The boy, then 6, was admitted to University Hospitals, Iowa City, on Feb. 9, 2016, because of low blood sugar and starvation, according to police.
Doctors discovered that the boy was not being fed properly and was in long-term starvation. He also had not received required medical care for about three years, according to police.
Doctors said the boy could or might suffer long-term damage and he was in danger of dying before he was taken to the hospital, according to police.
Clark and Jacob W. Brasmer, 25, her live-in boyfriend at the time, knew about the required diet requirements and medical care needs for the boy’s disorder, according to the affidavit. The two were charged in May.
Answering questions through defense attorney Steven Stickle, Clark admitted during Thursday’s plea hearing that she knowingly failed to properly treat the boy’s disorder by failing to consistently provide him with a specialty formula, monitor his phenylalanine levels and seek frequent medical treatment.
She also admitted that she knew that failure to properly treat her son’s disorder could result in long-term, irreversible brain damage.
Brasmer entered a written plea to child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor, in October. A sentencing hearing is scheduled April 20, according to court records.