Tribe Charges Woman Accused of Child Abuse

Tribe Charges Woman Accused of Child Abuse

A McAlester woman was charged this week in tribal court after being accused in 2019 of abusing and neglecting a 5-year-old boy investigators said looked like "a 75-year-old man" when examined at the hospital.

Paula Amber Chisholm, 35, was charged Tuesday with child abuse and child neglect, according to documents filed in Choctaw Nation District Court.

Chisholm was originally charged in December 2019 with child abuse and three charges of child neglect on two separate children with two charges of child neglect later dismissed, according to documents filed in Pittsburg County District Court.

An affidavit filed in the case states Chisholm was charged after a 5-year-old boy was transported by ambulance to the McAlester Regional Health Center in early December 2019 from a local school.

When investigators arrived at the emergency room, they were told by school staff that they believed the boy was being abused at home, the affidavit states. An investigator wrote in his report the boy had bruises all over him with marks on both ears with one “purple like it had been pinched and twisted."

According to the affidavit, the boy “appeared to be very small and skinny for his age” with the investigator also noting several scratches and bruises under the boy’s thinning hair. The boy “had the appearance of a 75-year-old man and appeared to be abused, neglected, and malnourished," the affidavit states.

While in the emergency room, the boy “was eating and drinking everything he could get his hands on,” and the boy was allowed to eat and drink the entire time he was at the hospital, the report states.

During a July 2020 preliminary hearing, a social worker who worked at MRHC at the time of the incident testified the boy originally said nobody hurt him when the room was full of people.

But the social worker testified the child became more trusting and later said “Aunt Paula” was the person that hurt him. The social worker also stated the boy asked if he could go back to school because “no one hurts him there.”

Cynthia Sanford, who examined the boy at the Pittsburg County Child Advocacy Center in McAlester, described bruising found on the child’s chest, arms, and back as “open-ended marks,” meaning the boy was hit by an open-ended object or linear object.

With “nobody in the family knowing how the child received the injuries,” Sanford concluded the injuries were “consistent” with child abuse. 

“Somebody would have known,” Sanford said.

According to Sanford, the boy weighed 33 pounds during the exam and had thinning hair. Less than a month after the exam, the boy gained almost five pounds which was consistent with having “adequate nutrition and sleep."

Court documents show Chisholm was released on her own recognizance in August of 2020 before she was taken back into custody in September 2020 after the OR bond was revoked.

Derrick James