updated 3/7/2007 9:45:48 PM ET 2007-03-08T02:45:48

A couple was charged Wednesday with abusing a 4-month-old conjoined twin who was separated from his brother after birth.

According to a criminal complaint, the infant was returned to the hospital Jan. 11. Doctors found eight fractures in the boy's legs and 16 rib fractures. Some injuries appeared to have begun healing, while others were newer, the complaint said.

Valerie J. James, 19, and Robert L. Heck III, 26, both of Mankato, were each charged with first-degree assault and aiding and abetting, said police Lt. Dan Muyres.

Neither was in custody, though the children were removed from their parents' custody and placed in supervised care. An April 12 court appearance has been set.

Heck denied the allegations Wednesday but said he would not comment further until he spoke with his attorney.

Jacob and Jordan James were joined at the abdomen when they were born in November. They immediately underwent successful separation surgery. One of the boys remained in the hospital after the other was released Jan. 3.

Heck and James also have another child, a toddler. It was not immediately clear whether the toddler also was removed from the couple's custody.

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