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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sarah Tatum pleads guilty on dorm baby assault

Sarah Tatum, the former UA student who gave birth in a dorm shower last February, has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and child abuse.

She faced charges of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse and was set to go to trial when the plea bargain was struck on Tuesday.

Tatum gave birth to a 7-pound boy in the shower of the Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall, placed the infant in a laundrybag, and tied the drawstring top around 1 p.m. Her hall mates pulled her out of the shower around 4 p.m.

The bag began to move and one of the hall mates alerted the community director who called the police according to previous reports.

The infant was in University Medical Center’s care until March 12, 2009, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The child was adopted its first week out of the hospital, according to Laura Udall, Tatum’s attorney.

“”It is a closed adoption by her choice, she contacted Catholic Social Services right away and that’s been her plan all along,”” Udall said.

Tatum was indicted on March 17, 2009, and charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse.

The Sept. 7 plea agreement states, “”On or around the 23rd of February, 2009, Sarah Elizabeth Tatum assaulted Baby Boy Tatum, causing serious physical injury … committed child abuse by intentionally or knowingly causing physical injury to Baby Boy Tatum, a child less than eighteen years of age, under circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury, to wit: concealing the baby’s presence and delaying medical treatment.””

If Tatum is sentenced to prison she will have an 11-year minimum sentence and a 27-and-a-half-year maximum.

“”They decided to make the plea offer after I approached them again about three weeks ago,”” Udall said.

The charges were changed to aggravated assault after further investigation of the report.

“”Well if we had gone on the original offense the defendant was looking at 35 years in prison; we decided to compromise the case based on the facts and some of the medical testimony,”” said David Berkman, chief criminal deputy for the Pima County Attorney’s Office. “”The aggravated assault was determined after she admitted to reckless conduct in the handling of the child.””

The agreement stipulates that Tatum will pay $25,000 in restitution. If she is sentenced to lifetime probation, Tatum will also pay 10 percent of all the income she makes in her life, Berkman added.

“”No, it was not an easy decision,”” Udall said of Tatum signing the plea agreement.

When asked of Tatum’s future plans, Udall said it was too early to tell.

“”I think one step at a time, pretty soon she’s going to be in prison and she‘s got serious adjustments to do,”” Udall said. “”She’s going to suffer punishment and when she gets out, she’s going to start over again.””

Sentencing is set for Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. before Judge Richard Fields, Pima County Superior Court.

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