Woman to admit role in girl's torture
NASHUA - The companion of a woman convicted of torturing her 10-year-old daughter plans to admit she participated in the abuse. Chrisias France, 46, of 72B Kinsley St., had been scheduled to stand trial this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court but will instead plead guilty and face sentencing Tuesday, court records show. France has been free on personal recognizance since her indictment in 2007. The terms of her plea deal call for a maximum sentence of one year in jail, followed by probation and a consecutive suspended sentence. France and her lawyer, James Dennehy, may argue for less, however. France formerly lived at 13 Salem St. with the girl and her mother, Theresa Bergeron. Bergeron pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to two to 10 years in prison. Assistant County Attorney Paula Philbrook likened Bergeron's abuse of her daughter to the torture of prisoners by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and said the girl suffered physical and mental stress similar to detainees there. The girl is now living in a safe place, Philbrook said. Bergeron admitted to forcing her daughter to stand in place for up to 12 hours, once keeping her awake for two nights straight, using a fan and spraying water to chill her. She also confessed to starving the girl by feeding her only Cheerios cereal and locking the girl in her room with no bedding while covering the heating vents. France is accused of taking part in the abuse, failing to report it and trying to hide evidence of it once police got involved. A neighbor repeatedly reported concerns about Bergeron to the state Division for Children, Youth & Families in 2005. It is unclear what action social workers took, if any, beyond visiting the home. Police were called to investigate in 2006, after the girl's elementary school teacher became concerned when she saw the girl was limping and unable to stay awake in class. Philbrook said previously that the plea bargains would help the girl, by sparing her from having to testify in court about the abuse. France has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and failure to report child abuse, and a felony evidence tampering charge. She faces up to 12 months in jail, followed by a year on probation, and a one- to seven-year prison sentence to remain suspended for three years on the condition that she stays out of further trouble. She would be required to undergo anger management counseling, and have no contact with children outside her immediate family, court records show.