Image copyright TASPI (AP
A six-year-old boy will be taken back to Italy because of alleged abuse by staff at the Safari Ranch park where he stayed for a week, a South Carolina court has ruled.
Officials found large bruises on the boy’s arms and legs and said he did not feel safe at the Georgia-based resort.
The youngster’s parents and trainers, along with the park itself, had opposed taking him back to Italy.
The case was examined in a state court where six attorneys volunteered as judges.
“This is a tragic case, but, after further investigation, I’m not able to be persuaded by the foregoing evidence,” one said in a preliminary ruling.
“My whole job is to show the child is safe, and I did not feel he was safe.”
Yazoo County district attorney Josh DuBois said he would probably ask the court to reconsider the order or seek permission to appeal in federal court.
In a statement, the Safari Ranch said it had “denied the allegations against the staff and expressed its commitment to providing a safe environment for the care of the children at the resort”.
The girl and her father went to the park with their four children and made the trip to Georgia, but the father’s brother brought the little boy to get a haircut, court documents show.
The mother was at the park with her three children when she and her husband returned to their suite. They took the boy along with them, saying they were looking for a hair salon.
In the room, the father allegedly found the child holding his hand with a torn up bandage around his right wrist. He also found two large bruises on his left forearm and one on his right ankle.
The parents said the staff at the Safari Ranch refused to go to the hospital, saying the injuries appeared to be so small that the boy would not need an MRI scan or follow-up care.
In court documents filed to support their defense, employees denied abusing the child.
The court is considering whether the owner of the park – who was charged with child neglect but has pleaded not guilty – could be ordered to pay for the treatment.