Visits with child must be supervised

WAILUKU – Saying the main concern was that a child remain safe, a judge has ordered that a woman continue to be supervised when she is with the daughter she was convicted of injuring.

The supervision order was part of five years’ probation imposed Feb. 8 for Joy Tobise, 24. She also was ordered to complete an anger management program and to maintain mental health treatment.

Tobise had pleaded no contest to three counts of second-degree assault and abuse of a family member. Both the defense and prosecution asked the court to follow a plea agreement recommending no additional jail for Tobise.

The assault charges were brought after Tobise took her daughter, then 3 months old, to the hospital emergency room Feb. 1, 2011, and the infant was diagnosed with a skull fracture, rib fractures and healing fractures to her upper and lower left leg.

Police said Tobise admitted to hurting the girl at least three times by grabbing and squeezing her ribs, stomping on her leg and dropping her on her head.

Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said that three psychiatrists or psychologists who examined Tobise agreed she wasn’t criminally responsible because she was suffering from postpartum depression at the time.

But another incident several months later on Oct. 16, 2011, couldn’t be explained the same way, Bissen said.

That day, Tobise was caring for her daughter and two older sons when she reported that the girl scraped her face in an accident while playing on a balcony. But Dr. William Kepler, who examined photos of the girl’s injury that were taken the next day, found that the bruising on the girl’s cheek was likely caused by a slap.

In court Feb. 8, psychologist Virginia Cantorna said that Tobise had suffered from postpartum psychosis, a rare condition that affects fewer than 1 percent of mothers, beginning days or weeks after delivery and lasting for a short time.

“It’s an illness that affects good women and good mothers,” Cantorna said. “It is a unique disorder.”

Deputy Public Defender Shelly Miyashiro said that when the case began, Tobise was caring for three young children largely on her own. Since then, Tobise has had growing support from family members, Miyashiro said. “They are willing to step in and help her,” she said.

Artemio Sabas Jr., the child’s father and Tobise’s fiance, described Tobise as a “very gentle person who loves our children with all her heart and soul.”

“I wish every day that I could rewind time, and I had listened when Joy needed help,” he said in court. “I never played an active role as a parent at the time when I should have. I feel my lack of sharing the responsibility as a parent contributed to the event that led to my daughter getting seriously hurt.”

Tobise said she was sorry for what she did to her daughter.

“I wish I could take it back,” she said. “I was very sick at the time. There was no one there to help me.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way. It will never happen again.”

Family members and Cantorna asked the court to end the requirement that Tobise be supervised when she is with her daughter. “If we adults can’t trust Joy, what are we teaching her children – to not trust their mother?” Cantorna said in court.

While ordering that the supervision continue, Bissen agreed to allow an expansion of the list of people who could supervise Tobise with her daughter.

“This is not so much an issue of trust but an issue of safety that the court is most concerned about, and it’s always been the primary concern,” the judge said. “All the big people can take care of themselves. It’s the little people we have to watch out for. We have to make sure people around them are healthy and safe. It’s always been the primary or the driving point of this case.”

Tobise was given credit for five days she previously spent in jail. She was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to complete an anger management program.