FORT WAYNE — The woman’s home life while growing up consisted of regular sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
She tasted her first drink as a 6-year-old. By the time she was 11, she smoked pot. At 16, she used methamphetamine on an almost daily basis. She suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and was bipolar, as well.
But she had potential. She was smart.
And some people thought she could break free of the vicious cycle so many go through when they’re subjected to abuse or immersed in substance addiction.
That hasn’t happened, though.
Holly Brooks, a 21-year-old mother, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for allowing her 2-year-old son to be beaten so badly that he suffered burns, bruises and brain hemorrhages, some of which were weeks old.
“That’s why this is so sad,” Beth Weber, an attorney who works with children who go through the child services system, said during Brooks’ sentencing hearing. “Our goal is to stop the cycle of abuse.”
Weber, who once ran the nonprofit law organization that specialized in abused children, ran into Brooks several years ago on the street and found out the woman was pregnant.
The two knew each other relatively well. Weber had worked with Brooks in the years after she had entered the child welfare system after she suffered abuse from her parents.
“She told me she’d be a better parent than hers were,” Weber said.
Brooks, also known as Holly Fedock, was arrested along with her boyfriend last year after her 2-year-old son was brought to a hospital.
A worker for the Department of Child Services testified Friday that the boy appeared lifeless and that only his eyes moved when examined.
Doctors found that the toddler was covered from head to toe in bruises, and at the time was suffering from multiple brain hemorrhages, some of which were two to three weeks old.
Testimony on Friday painted a picture of Brooks constantly hiding out in her bedroom partaking of either marijuana or other harder drugs in order to avoid her son, who was being taken care of by 40-year-old Amilcar Estrada.
Estrada is accused of inflicting the physical abuse on the boy. Also charged with neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury, his case is still winding through the legal system. He is set for trial in March.
Brooks pleaded guilty to one count of neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury last month.
On Friday, Allen Superior Court Judge John F. Surbeck listened as caseworkers detailed the abuse her son suffered as well as what Brooks suffered when she was a child.
He also listened as Weber spoke to him about how Brooks once stopped abusing substances and seemed to be in a good place. But she also told Surbeck that despite pleas from others, Brooks decided to leave several treatment programs upon turning 18.
“She (stopped using) as a young adult, I hope she does again,” Weber said.
Surbeck sentenced Brooks to 10 years in prison, but he suspended half of that sentence.
According to court testimony, Brooks’ son is currently in foster care and is in the process of being placed in a permanent home of a relative. Even when she’s released, Brooks will only be able to visit with him in a supervised and therapeutic setting, according to court testimony.
“Holly is never going to be considered for permanent placement,” Weber said.