IMAGE: Deborah Robinson
Chitose Suzuki  /  AP file
Deborah Robinson enters a courtroom at Suffolk County Superior Courthouse in Boston. Robinson, whose 13-year-old daughter nearly died from an infection caused by a bellybutton piercing, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
updated 10/26/2006 6:11:44 PM ET 2006-10-26T22:11:44

A mother whose 13-year-old daughter nearly died from an infection caused by a bellybutton piercing was sentenced Thursday to 2½ years in prison for failing to seek medical attention for several weeks as the child grew sicker.

The girl wrote to the judge seeking leniency for Deborah Robinson, who was convicted this month of wantonly or recklessly permitting substantial bodily injury to a child under 14. She could have received five years.

“My mom is not in the least a criminal,” wrote the daughter, who is not being identified by The Associated Press to protect her privacy.

Prosecutors said Robinson watched as her daughter dropped from 115 pounds to 75 pounds and became incontinent and weak from an infection that began after she reinserted a belly ring she had removed months earlier. When EMTs arrived at the family’s Boston apartment on Aug. 3, 2005, the girl was emaciated, wearing an adult diaper and couldn’t get off the couch.

The teenager suffered extensive organ damage from the infection but has made a full recovery. She testified in her mother’s defense, saying Robinson urged her to eat, gave her orange juice and adjusted the temperature in the apartment to make her comfortable.

The judge suspended one year of the sentence, and Robinson has already served more than 14 months in jail. Defense laywer Janet Macnab said she already should be eligible for parole.

During her trial, Macnab said Robinson was a struggling single mother of two who didn’t realize how sick her daughter was. Robinson’s son also wrote to the judge seeking leniency for her.

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