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Galloway woman accused of starving, beating girl released from jail

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A Galloway Township woman accused of starving and beating a 9-year-old girl in her care was released from jail Tuesday.

Stephanie Gregory, 56, is accused of beating the girl with a metal spatula and starving her to the point of near-death, Assistant Prosecutor Erika Halayko told the judge.

Gregory was caring for the girl and her two siblings, who witnessed the abuse, but were not beaten or starved. One of the siblings was even forced to participate in the abuse, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything like this," Superior Court Judge John Rauh said, noting he will have been on the bench 19 years in July. "The harm done to this particular child is just shocking to the court’s conscience, and inexplicable."

But Rauh said he had to remind himself that his job in a detention hearing was to decide if the state proved that no conditions could be put in place to keep the public safe and make sure Gregory shows up to court.

He said that, in this case, there were conditions.

Rauh agreed with defense attorney Omar Aguilar that because the children are out of Gregory's custody and witness statements have already been taken, Gregory does not pose a threat to them.

The conditions of her release include no contact with the children as well as no contact with any of the witnesses, which include most of her neighbors, according to information given in court.

"There are so many witnesses who came forward in this case," Halayko said. "There were many, many statements regarding the harm that was done to this child."

Aguilar said that because the witnesses are neighbors, just walking out her front door could lead to contact.

"Incidental or accidental contact does not violate my order," Rauh said. "But she is not to engage that neighbor."

"Any of the neighbors," Halayko added.

Halayko indicated there may have been other reports about the abuse prior to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency getting involved.

That matches with reports by several people close to the case alleging that calls to help the girl went unanswered.

Aguilar said that Gregory had no criminal record before this, and indicated that perhaps the pandemic along with apparent drug abuse may have contributed to a diminished mental state. Eight wax folds of heroin were found in a bedroom drawer.

"I just don’t see anyway that any grown up could allow that to happen within their zone of consciousness let alone participate in the type of abuse and neglect and assault that we’re talking about here," Rauh said.

Gregory did have previous disorderly persons offenses from 1994, which Halayko indicated were prostitution charges.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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