Brenda Burns’s Letter to Judge Cavanaugh

February 19, 2015

To the Honorable Miriam Cavanaugh

I am writing this letter on behalf of my beloved daughter, Naomi Burns. On January 27, 2015 a jury convicted Naomi’s father, Joshua Burns, of 2nd degree child abuse. Naomi is the alleged victim. I wish to speak on her behalf as she is now only thirteen months old.
My support for my husband’s innocence is based on personal experience gained from over eight years of marriage and, more importantly, on how Joshua loved and cared for Naomi prior to her removal from our care in April of 2014. With all of my heart I do not believe that Joshua would ever intentionally hurt our daughter. I would never protect my husband over my child. The thought of doing so is abhorrent to me.
My support is also based on the weight of the medical evidence that disputes one doctor’s abuse diagnosis. To believe this one doctor that diagnosed abuse, I would have to believe that dozens of physicians at two hospitals and one outpatient clinic misdiagnosed my daughter. Not one physician that we encountered over a ten-day period of time mentioned abusive head trauma as the cause of Naomi’s symptoms. Joshua was candid with medical staff about the accident on March 15th, 2014. I was present as multiple doctors dismissed the fall as significant in explaining Naomi’s medical condition.
Naomi was very ill last year for over two weeks. Based on what I saw then and based on how Naomi is doing now, I am persuaded that she was not seriously injured by anyone. She is perfectly normal physically, developmentally, and emotionally. I have followed through with assessments by specialist doctors in neurology, neurosurgery, and ophthalmology. The overall consensus is that she is in good health. There is nothing wrong with Naomi except for the unjust loss of her father.
Naomi is a remarkable child. She is beautiful, bright, vibrant, and acutely interested in the world. She loves books and music. Everyone who encounters her notes how intelligent and observant she is. She is also determined. Her determination spurs her to meet every goal set for her by Early On. In spite of her difficult birth and very serious illness early in life she is meeting all of her developmental milestones. In fact, according to her pediatrician, Naomi is developmentally normal. She is also loving and sweet. She delights in laughter and in the warmth of love and affection.
As her mother, I truly want what is best for Naomi. As we read books with pictures of daddies and daughters it breaks my heart knowing that Naomi has a father who loves her very much and who wants to be there for her but is prevented from doing so. What is best for Naomi is to have the care, love, and support of a mother and a father.
Because I know my husband, I perceive even now what Naomi is missing. I remember waking up one morning before Naomi’s illness seeing her in her father’s arms. She was captivated by him. Her eyes were bright and beaming and, even then, at such a young age, I could see a smile on her face. Joshua relished those one-on-one moments with his daughter. I know that one of the greatest joys in his life was becoming a father.
Joshua continues to love Naomi with an undying love. Although he has been prevented by the court from having any contact with her, he remains deeply concerned for her well being. He has continued to willingly and eagerly provide for her needs. Due to Joshua’s conviction, however, he will likely no longer be able to provide for her financially and emotionally.
I would be remiss if I did not express that Naomi is being unjustly punished for an accident that caused no serious or lasting harm to her. I ask that you please consider my daughter’s future as you sentence her daddy, Joshua Burns. Your decision will inevitably impact the rest of her life a lot more than what the alleged abuse did.

Brenda Burns