Tue. Oct 15th, 2019

Former NICU Nurse to Enter Guilty Plea in Abuse Case

Christopher M. Kaphaem, 43, of Middleton, Wisconsin.

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UPDATE: Monday, September 30th, Kaphaem entered a guilty plea to all of the nineteen felony charges against him related to the injuries caused to nine children he cared for in the UnityPoint Health-Meriter NICU.

 

After the hearing his bond was revoked and he was taken into custody.

 

He faces the possibility of 148 years at his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

 


Christopher M. Kaphaem, 43, worked at UnityPoint Health-Meriter for over 14 years before he was fired from his position in early February of 2018 in response to an investigation that resulted in him being charged with 19 felonies.  In October of 2016, he was permanently assigned to the NICU where he worked an overnight shift.

 

A breakdown of the charges Kaphem faces is seven counts of child abuse, seven counts of patient abuse causing great bodily harm, two counts of child neglect causing bodily harm, two counts of patient neglect causing bodily harm and one count of child abuse causing great bodily harm.

 

Throughout the course of the investigation, nine different infants were identified.  Most suffered bruising or broken bones with one sustaining a skull fracture.  A child abuse expert testified that the injuries were indicative of child abuse. Two infants were even reported to have tissue damage from IV fluid leaking into their skin which was considered to be “consistent with medical neglect.”

 

The abuse is said to have taken place between May 2017 and February 2018.  Kaphaem was suspended on February 8th from the hospital after his medical license was indefinitely suspended on March 19th.

 

 

In a letter filed with the court on September 16th, Kaphaem's attorney, Jonas Bednarek, reported that his client was prepared to enter a guilty plea.  There is no current plea deal on the table from the prosecution as the one that had been offered expired earlier this month.

 

“I write to inform the court that Mr. Kaphaem is prepared to accept responsibility and enter pleas of guilty to the charges contained in the information. He is prepared to enter the guilty plea at the next scheduled court appearance or at any hearing set by the court…..” Bednarek wrote in the letter.

 

As an intent to enter a guilty plea is not the same as doing so in the court, the prosecution is continuing to prepare their case.  “We have had no contact with Mr. Kaphaem’s defense team since the last court appearance.  At this time we continue to prepare for trial and will do so until Mr. Kaphaem enters guilty pleas," Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told 27 News.

 

According to court documents, the next hearing is scheduled for September 30th.  Should the trial proceed past that point by Kaphaem failing to enter the guilty plea, jury selection is scheduled to begin on October 21st.

 

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