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Baby's legs broken by stranger

A 15-month-old girl suffered broken legs after police say a family acquaintance "twisted" her limbs. The baby lives in the downstairs apartment with her mother, and her grandmother, Kimberly Linhart, lives upstairs at 5403 3rd Ave., Moline.

The 15-month-old has casts on both of her legs and the "early walker" isn't acting like herself.

The baby's grandmother, Kimberly Linhart of Moline, tries not to cry when she talks about the abuse that resulted in her granddaughter's broken limbs. The child, as a victim of abuse, is not being identified by name.

Linhart feels guilty, she said, because she didn't protect the little girl. At the same time, she is furious at the woman who police say "twisted" and "bent" the infant's legs until they broke.

"They should make an example of her and bury her under the jail," Linhart said of Dorothy Varallo-Specken, the family acquaintance who police say is responsible for the abuse.

Varallo-Specken, 22, is charged with aggravated battery to a child, a Class X felony under Illinois law. She remained in the Rock Island County Jail on $100,000 bond Wednesday.

Linhart said her daughter, the baby's mother, barely knew Varallo-Specken, who had spent a few days at her daughter's apartment with a longtime family friend. Linhart lives in the upstairs apartment of the duplex at 5403 3rd Ave., and her daughter and granddaughter live in the downstairs apartment.

"Dorothy was here under false pretenses, saying her mom kicked her out," Linhart said. "That wasn't true. She'd been here a couple of days when I was sick. I usually take care of (the baby), but my nephew had her until about 7:30 that morning."

She said the abuse occurred sometime later that day, July 22.

"My daughter's friend had been around the kids many times and we trusted her," she said. "Dorothy wasn't supposed to be taking care of my granddaughter."

Later in the day, Linhart's daughter noticed a bump and bruising on the baby's head and swelling in her left leg.

"She took her to Illini Hospital (Silvis) and the doctor was pretty interested in the bump on her head, but my daughter also was concerned about the leg," Linhart said. "She asked the doctor about the leg, but they just blew it off."

Craig Cooper, a spokesman for Genesis Health System, which operates Illini, declined comment Wednesday, citing privacy laws.

"The next morning, (the baby) looked like she had doughnuts around her ankles, and this time my daughter took her to Trinity (Moline). They X-rayed the legs and they were broken. I rushed down to the hospital and I waited an hour while DCFS (the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) and the police were with them.

"I said, 'I know my daughter didn't do that. I want to know who did this to my granddaughter.' "

She said her nephew volunteered to take a lie-detector test and that Varallo-Specken and the family friend were questioned both together and separately.

Then Varallo-Specken gave police a statement about what happened, Linhart said.

Detective Scott Williams of the Moline Police Department said, "We have a statement from the suspect favorable to the prosecution of this case."

Varallo-Specken's attorney, William G. Schick, of Rock Island, said Wednesday that he is not yet familiar enough with the case to comment.

"I'm just sick," Linhart said, wiping at tears with her fingertips. "I hate seeing my granddaughter in those casts. She was an early walker and she can't get anywhere now. Since this happened, she clings to me and cries when I'm out of her sight. She's not her cheerful, happy self. She's crabby. I'm sure it's because of the pain.

"I feel guilty because I wasn't with her."

One thing that has helped through her family's ordeal, she said, is the handling of the case by police, especially Moline Juvenile Detective Marcy O'Brien.

"Marcy was just incredible, just great," she said. "She has been so nice and so understanding, and yet I know she's sick about this, too."

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