Oshkosh man avoids prison after physically abusing infant daughter

OSHKOSH, Wis. - In Winnebago County Court Tuesday, Richard Root described his feelings about causing more than 20 broken bones and brain bleeding to his then two-and-a-half-month-old daughter.

"My daughter means everything to me," Root said. "I'm her father and I'm supposed to be her protector, but I let her down. I let myself down, my family down, my wife down, but most importantly, this little girl."

The judge, hearing Root's words and seeing his family watching behind him, did not sentence Root to prison. Instead, he sentenced Root to seven years probation.

"They're an incredibly close-knit family," Root's attorney, Jeff Oswald, said. "They've stayed together through thick and thin in all this and I think they're incredibly relieved that it's all done."

Root's attorney and the prosecution both argued against prison. They say they balanced the seriousness of the crime against positive things Roots has done since, like parenting classes, counseling, and a show of remorse.

"Balancing all those things, it still was a close call, and in the end I think what's happened is he's been given the opportunity to avoid prison," Assistant District Attorney Eric Sparr said. "He hasn't necessarily avoided it yet, but he has the chance to avoid it if he continues to do well."

Attorney's say Root can continue his progress by avoiding prison.

"I think in the end, that's the right answer," Sparr said. "The family is safer and other people are safer the way it is."

As part of the sentence, Root will serve six months in jail. He is also not to have contact with his daughter, unless that contact is approved. 

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