The mother of a child beaten in a St. Charles hotel room last October inched closer Friday to seeing her daughter for the first time since being implicated in the crime.
Molly Koch was 2 years old when St. Charles police and emergency personnel found her unconscious, severely beaten and not breathing at a Super 8 hotel. An investigation led to the arrest of her mother, Cathleen Koch, and her mother's boyfriend, James C. Cooper. Police believe Cooper inflicted the actual beating while Koch let it happen and then lied to protect Cooper.
Koch wants supervised hourly visits with her daughter once a week. Molly Koch is currently in a protective foster home supervised by the Department of Children and Family Services.
As Koch stood before Judge Timothy Sheldon Friday, Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Joe Cullen tried to remind Sheldon why Koch needs his permission to see her daughter.
"She will go to great lengths to ensure that her child is in a dangerous situation," Cullen said.
He told Sheldon Koch initially told police Molly sustained her injuries in a fall at a local gas station. When that story fell apart, Cullen said Koch told police she didn't know her own boyfriend's last name and lied about what kind of car he drove in an apparent effort to help Cooper elude authorities.
Cullen said Koch was trying to protect Cooper over her own daughter despite being fully aware of Cooper's $300-a-day heroin habit. Indeed, Cullen said Koch has admitted to taking Molly along when going to buy drugs with Cooper, and having Molly in Cooper's presence as he used drugs.
"There's no indication that her daughter would benefit from this (visitation)," Cullen said. "She is someone who absolutely cannot be trusted."
Sheldon responded that he "would never trust her alone" with Molly, but if DCFS believes a supervised visit is a good idea he is in no position to prevent it.
Cullen said DCFS has not agreed to visitation for Koch, but her defense attorney, Liz Lovig said DCFS will almost certainly seek such a visitation as part of the typical reunion process between parents and children in cases involving allegations of abuse and neglect.
With that in mind, Sheldon said he was willing to lift the restrictions of Koch's bond to visit Molly as well as revisit the active order of protection against Koch that prevent her from legally coming near Molly.
With those hurdles out of the way, Koch would only need permission from DCFS and a judge separate from Sheldon who is handling the specific abuse and neglect portions of the case.
Any progress toward Koch seeing her daughter will not be welcomed by Molly's maternal grandmother Carrie Johnson, who is Koch's mother.
"Molly's safety should come first," Johnson said. "I may not think it's right, but I think the judge's hands are tied by our lawmakers in Springfield. They are the ones who have directed DCFS to say, 'We don't care how bad the parents are, we keep families together.' "
Johnson is continuing her own efforts to eventually receive custody of Molly.