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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 9, 2008

Father apologizes for injuries to child

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Ulli T. Neuwirth wrote a letter to his infant daughter after police arrested him for assaulting her.

On Sept. 29, Neuwirth’s wife had taken his brother to the airport when their four-month-old baby began to choke, Neuwirth told police.

“I panicked because she had choked before,” he said in a statement to police.  “We patted her and she was okay.”  This time, though, he told police that, after he found her, “I took her on my lap, held her neck with my left hand, bent her over and hit her back and upper shoulders three times.  I put her up again and she still wasn’t getting any air.  I put her head down further and hit her again three to four times.  I picked [her] up again and her lips started to turn blue.” 

He went on, “Every time I hit her back a little harder to get her to breathe.  The last set of hits I put her hips across my lap and hit her back.  By then I was beside myself.  I hit her really hard at that point of time.  I hit her really hard.” 

His baby still wasn’t breathing so he ran to call for help, Neuwirth said.

The 36-year-old, who is here on a permanent green card from Germany, is married to an American woman whom he met while they both studied at the University at Albany.  The couple has two children.

Once at Albany Medical Center, doctors ran tests and found that the infant’s brain was bleeding, according to the statement that Neuwirth gave to police.  “The staff said that because the injury was not normal that they would call child protective [services] and the police,” he said.

The next day, Sept. 30, Neuwirth wrote to his daughter, “with the deepest regret that I have ever felt in my life.”  He said, “Based on what the doctors told me today, I hurt you in an unforgivable way.”  She had two broken legs and a broken rib.

Neuwirth told his infant since he left his native country, “It has been really hard for me to keep friendships in Germany alive, so the more important became and is my family to me.”  His work as a computer consultant takes him away from the family’s 305 Trinacria Court home four days a week, he wrote, “And the absolute greatest time every week is to come home on Thursday evenings and see your mother, your sister Hannah being excited, saying ‘Papa, Papa,’ and seeing you,” he wrote.  “I am so proud of our family.”

He also confesses to being ambitious, saying, “I always try to be perfect and I easily get angry and upset if things do not work out as I planned them.”  With stress at work and family visiting, he said, “ I have to admit that since then my fuse has gotten shorter and I am sometimes impatient.  This is one of the reasons that I think contributed to the fact that I hurt you so badly.”

Neuwirth explains that he once swung his daughter playfully from her feet, a game that he had often played with his older daughter.  “I did not intend to harm you,” he writes, “but when I stopped you started to cry very, very hard.”

Another time, when the baby was fussing, Neuwirth says, “I got very frustrated and changed your diaper.  [You] continued to cry very loud the whole time I changed the diapers.  At this time I was very angry.  I took both of your legs and started to pull one towards me while I was pushing the other knee towards your belly.  I shouted at you ‘Why are you crying?  There is no reason to cry.’  I did this movement to you multiple times in a very harsh and very fast way.  It wasn’t your fault.”  He goes on to say, “You started to cry like I have never heard you cry before.  I stopped.  I was shocked at myself and about my actions.  I put you on my shoulders and I don’t recall how long you continued to cry, but at some point you settled down.  I was very sorry.”

Neuwirth was charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.  He could not be reached for comment.

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