Matty’s Baby Bouncer

The Consumer Products Saftety Commission has issued a final rule, but it does not address what might happen when a “large” baby (more than 20 lbs) is set upon by a rambunctious older brother so his head is crashed into the floor. The “concerns” are all about maybe the baby falling out of the bouncer or the seat falling off a table, chest or bed.

I’ve been agitated about this since I watched the trial of Louise Woodward and most of the practical information about the eight month old baby who could not sit on his own, did not crawl and, being his mother’s “butterball” had a weight she appreciated, perhaps because she was still nursing him.

That Matty was not of a size that the diminutive Louise could have “tossed,” was, along with much else, overlooked. What cannot be overlooked is that the mother is still keen to call attention, even as the foundation she set up to publicize Shaken baby or SIDS has grown to half a million without much being spent for anything.

Now two British TV channels have done historical documentaries without, it seems, any attention to the hard evidence, either. Of course, some of the problems are that Ms. Woodward is reluctant to talk, and Deborah Eappen cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

Who knew, for example, that Matty was already dead on February 4th, 1979 and kept “alive” by machines for five days? Who knew it was his mother who verified the ocular bleeding? Because she’s an optometrist? How did she know to look when Louise said the baby was choking? And if Sunil was home during the day because he was working the night shift, why didn’t Louise turn to him for help? Why had the Eappens taught her CPR, as Deborah claimed in 2003?
http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2003/12/29/grief_robs_you_of_so_much_for_so_long/

“Who killed Matty Eappen?” I’d say it was the baby bouncer with an inadvertent assist from playful Brendan. Why did Deborah find it necessary to suggest that Brendan was probably still napping when the incident occurred?

” Since 2006, 347 incidents related to bouncer seats have been reported, including 12 deaths, concussions and skull fractures.” Perhaps if Matty Eappen’s death had been considered more objectively, a dangerous product would have been sooner identified.

************
A contemporary report from the New York Post:

VIDEO SHOWS MATTY’S MOM COAXING
OTHER SON TO FINGER NANNY

By Bill Hoffmann in London and Maria Alvarez in
Cambridge, Mass.

Jurors in the nanny murder case never got to see
a dramatic
videotape in which Deborah Eappen tries to coax
her
surviving son to say that Louise Woodward is a
killer, sources
said last night.

Three-year-old Brendan Eappen refuses to agree on
the tape,
instead insisting that Louise loved his baby
brother, Matthew.

The stunning revelation came as Judge Hiller
Zobel is set to
decide today whether to set aside Woodward’s
murder
conviction or allow her to plead guilty to
manslaughter.

A spokesman for the Middlesex County district
attorney’s
office confirmed that authorities have a
30-minute videotape of
Deborah Eappen talking with her son Brendan on
the floor of
the Eappen home.

Deborah Eappen is shown repeatedly asking Brendan
to say
that Woodward harmed Matthew and caused his
death,
sources said.

But the youngster repeatedly insists Woodward was
a good
nanny.

“He replies along the lines that he loved Louise,
Matthew
loved Louise and Louise loved them,” the police
source says.

The tape, the source says, was made by Eappen in
a bid to
shore up the prosecution’s case against Woodward.

It is not known how police obtained the tape or
whether
Eappen could be prosecuted for trying to coach a
witness.

Zobel put the tape under seal and decided not to
let jurors see
it because it was inconclusive.

The judge apparently has viewed the tape and will
use its
contents as he weighs whether to change
Woodward’s murder
conviction.

Meanwhile, Woodward’s defense team was planning
to
interview Jenny Vestbro, the 23-year-old Swedish
nanny who
worked for the Eappens shortly before Woodward
did.

Vestbro quit her job after Deborah allegedly
accused her of
ignoring her duties and charging that all Swedish
nannies
wanted to do is party.

The defense believes Vestbro could paint a vivid
portrait of
tensions at the home – including claims that
Deborah’s
husband, Sunil, paid the nanny too much attention
after she
walked through the house scantily clad.

The grass-roots Louise Woodward Defense Fund has
raised
close to $250,000 in Britain alone.

And more celebrities were jumping on the
bandwagon to
demand that the 19-year-old au pair be freed.

Aging sex kitten Joan Collins of Dynasty fame
returned from
Los Angeles to London yesterday and told
reporters:

“The American justice system sucks. I was shocked
and
appalled at the verdict. I couldn’t believe it.”

Nudie nightclub king Peter Stringfellow also
emerged to
demand freedom for Woodward.

Throughout Britain and Ireland yesterday, tens of
thousands of
residents sported yellow ribbons to show their
support for
Woodward.

And thousands of Irish and English nannies and
former nannies
rallied in London and Dublin to call for her
immediate release.

******
I have a hard time remembering this phrase, “Retinal hemorrhages,” which, for some reason, Deborah Eappen was permitted to diagnose, even as Sunil was allowed to evaluate the CRT. That the baby also had a month old fracture in his wrist which nobody seemed to notice continued to be overlooked.
Does it matter that Deborah Spellman Eappen comes from a large, strong Catholic family in Chicago? Is their son, Brendan, right to be concerned about spina bifeda being rampant in India because of nutritional deficits? Was Matthew’s development retarded? Is that why at eight months he could not sit by himself and had not started to crawl?
*********
ADDENDUM
Dear Ms. Smith:
I’m not heavily involved in the Woodward case any longer. But my co-counsel, Barry Scheck, co-founder of the National Innocence Project, remains heavily involved. If you’d like, I’d be happy to pass your email on to Scheck.
Please advise.
Harvey Silverglate

—–Original Message—–
From: Hannah Smith
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 1:35 PM
To: Harvey Silverglate
Subject: Woodward/Eappen Kerfuffle

Dear Mr. Silverglate,
Ever since I watched the trial of Louise Woodward, I have been convinced that some significant evidence was oberlooked.
1) Matthew Eappen, at eight months was a large baby and should have been sitting on his own, not reclining in a bouncy chair.
2) Brendan Eappen was described as playing with his brother by jumping on him in his chair.
3) Matthew had a month-old fracture in his wrist which nobody seemed to have noticed, probably because he was so well padded.
5) My grandson, who was born in 1993, had just such a bouncy chair. It is made for small infants, not an eight month old whose head exyends above the metal frame which will not protect the head from hitting the floor if enough force is applied.
In 2017, the Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a rule about warning labels required for this product because of the reported injuries and deaths. However, the concerns raised seem to be mostly about babies falling out of the chair or the chair tipping over on a soft surface and causing the infant to smother. Nothing about aggressive use of the toy.
If the Eappens had not been so intent on blaming Louise Woodward, the real facts might have been brought out and the public might have been alerted to a hazardous product 20 years earlier.
Brendan seems to have some awareness that Matthew was disabled. He’s been promoting nutritional programs in India to counter spina bifida.
That Deborah and Sunil Eappen were permitted to provide “professional” evaluations of their child’s conditition strikes me as grossly unfortunate.
That the Matty Eappen Foundation has accumulated over half a million and spend almost nothing on preventing child abuse is not endearing, either. Perhaps a conversation with Brendan Eappen might be worth while. He’s at Harvard Medical School.