In a rare court action a Houston mom is facing prosecution for failure to protect her 4-year-old daughter from the vicious lover charged in the girl's death. Emma Thompson had some 80 bruises, a severed pancreas and a fractured skull when she died last year. Her mom's boyfriend faces trial on aggravated sexual assault in the girl's death. Usually, "when a child is harmed by a parent, the other parent is found to also be a victim," a legal expert told ABC News. "The mother has an obligation to protect the child, but because of her psychological helplessness," prosecutors generally don't file charges in such a case.

The prosecutor in this case told the Houston Chronicle that Emma "was a precious 4-year-old girl who deserved justice, and that's what we hope to get." Emma's mom, nurse Abigail Young, claimed her daughter hurt herself when she tumbled from a toilet seat. Young faces up to life in prison if convicted of injury to a child by omission. Her two other daughters have been placed with a former husband. "Hopefully, other children will not have to suffer" Emma's fate, but that "doesn't take away from the pain she must have gone through in those final hours," said a neighbor.

Crime & Courts