Algonquin woman sentenced to 18 months probation for kicking pregnant ER nurse

After a defense attorney argued his client was suffering a "mental breakdown" when she kicked a pregnant emergency room nurse in the stomach, an Algonquin woman was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

In March, Briana Veurink, 31, was found guilty of aggravated battery of a nurse and aggravated battery of a pregnant person by McHenry County Judge James Cowlin.

In his ruling after a bench trial, Cowlin found Veurink "knowingly" kicked a pregnant nurse on Feb. 17, 2021.

Cowlin also ordered Veurink to pay a $75 fine plus court costs and ordered that she not consume alcohol, marijuana or any illegal, non-prescribed drugs. She must submit to random urine tests and receive an anger evaluation within 45 days and follow any recommendations.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, the 32-year-old victim, who is an emergency room nurse at Northwestern Medicine in McHenry, read an impact statement. She asked that Veurink be given the maximum sentence allowed, which could have been five years in prison.

She said she was visibly showing when Veurink, who was angry and not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, kicked her twice, making contact with her stomach.

"After any direct abdominal trauma there are concerns for placenta abruption, hemorrhage, preterm labor and more," she said.

Afterward, the victim was hospitalized for observation for 24 hours, labs and ultrasounds. She also lost wages because of the incident and her husband had to miss work to care for her other two children.

"I saw a person who was angry that she was not getting her way," she said. "Time and time again she attempted to manipulate the people that were simply trying to help her."

The victim said she is thankful she and her baby are OK and understands Veurink was having a bad day, but "being in a crisis does not excuse violence."

About 8 p.m. Veurink was taken to the hospital for an evaluation after her estranged husband said she was making "homicidal and suicidal statements," Cowlin said when finding her guilty.

While Veurink was in a bed in the emergency room, the nurse who was visibly pregnant tried to remove one of her boots when Veurink kicked her in the abdomen. Veurink was told the nurse was pregnant and she kicked her again, Cowlin said in his ruling.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the McHenry County courthouse, the victim was 25 weeks pregnant at the time.

The nurse said health care workers have fought for stricter laws regarding safer work environments to deter such violence.

According to a letter published in the American Hospitals Association in March 2022 urging the U.S. Department of Justice to implement federal laws to better protect health care workers, "violence against hospital employees has markedly increased" since the onset of the pandemic.

"There is no sign it is receding. Studies indicate that 44% of nurses report experiencing physical violence and 68% report experiencing verbal abuse during the pandemic," according to the letter.

"This is a case where a sober person of sound mind endangered not only a nurse but also her unborn child," the victim said. "I would encourage the court to consider the maximum penalty."

When reached by phone Friday Veurink's attorney Thomas Carroll said his client was in the midst of a mental health crisis and should have never been charged criminally.

This fact was even more telling in that the hospital continued to give Veurink treatment and sent her to a mental health facility in Northwestern Medical in Woodstock for seven days rather than having her arrested that night, he said.

Carroll said he asked the judge for a sentence of one day of conditional discharge, but said the sentence of probation is fair because it allows Veurink to receive the mental health treatment she needs.

Carroll said Veurink, the mother of three children who is pregnant with her fourth, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of past abuses. Her PTSD is what lead to her resisting the forced removal of her clothing in the ER that night, Carroll said.

"We are at a crossroads in the criminal justice system and how we deal with people suffering from mental health," Carroll said. "Our county has chosen to fund a mental health court, a drug court, and other alternative courts ... recognizing full well that [such actions] are driven by something other than a desire to break the law."

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