MEDFORD — Aisling McCarthy Brady, the Quincy nanny accused of assaulting the now-deceased toddler in her care, huddled out of sight in Cambridge District Court Tuesday morning, as her lawyer declared her innocence. Over the day, details emerged about Brady’s past, including previous allegations of violence and harassment.
During the arraignment, prosecutors said Brady, 34, injured 1-year-old Rehma Sabir while caring for the girl at her parents’ Cambridge apartment on Jan. 14. The toddler sustained massive head trauma, authorities said, and died two days later.
“It is very clear the only person who had direct contact with this child at the time of the injuries was the defendant,” Middlesex prosecutor Katherine Folger said.
Brady, a native of Ireland who has been in the country illegally, was ordered held on $500,000 bail. Prosecutors said they expect to charge Brady with murder when an autopsy is complete.
Doctors who examined the toddler found bruising and compression fractures in her spine that were “consistent with the slamming of a child,” Folger said, along with multiple bone fractures that had partially healed.
The child’s parents, identified as Sameer Sabir, a British native who studied at Harvard and MIT, and Nada Siddiqui, could not be reached Tuesday.
Brady’s attorney, Melinda Thompson, denied the accusations, describing Brady as a caring child-care provider who was in no way responsible for the “unspeakable tragedy.”
Thompson said the child had been traveling for weeks with her family, and had been diagnosed with malnutrition. After a lengthy trip to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the child was “very sick,” Thompson said. “Who knows what could have happened?” she asked.
In court, prosecutors described Brady’s account of the day Rehma was taken to the hospital. After the child’s mother left around 9:30 a.m., Brady said she played with the child, then put her down for a nap. When she awoke shortly after 1, Brady fed her lunch, but noticed the girl seemed sleepy. After seeing that Rehma had slumped in her highchair, Brady put her back in her crib.
A few hours later, Brady called 911 when the girl had an apparent seizure in her crib. When responders arrived, she was breathing but unconscious.
Brady, who had been caring for the toddler for about six months, went to the hospital with the family that evening and later exchanged text messages with them about her condition, Thompson said.
“She was mourning this child with the family,’’ said Thompson. She had fully cooperated with investigators and submitted to several hours of interrogation, she said.
“Ms. McCarthy has no idea what happened to this child.”
The infant had no “outward signs” of bruising or bleeding when she was taken to the hospital, Thompson said, suggesting the injuries may have been sustained earlier.
Outside the courtroom, Thompson said Brady was “devastated” by the child’s death and the accusations against her, and maintained her innocence.
As Brady was charged in court, details began to emerge about her past. One of 10 children, she had worked as a nanny since she came to the United States in 2002.
Brady has no criminal convictions, but in 2007 was charged with attacking her female roommate in Dorchester during an argument. The roommate “had a laceration to her right pinky finger, which she claimed was a bite received from Brady,” and also had a bite mark on her right bicep, according to a police report. Her roommate was also arrested in the altercation, and the case was dismissed.
Last March, a woman took out a restraining order against her, alleging that Brady harrassed her. The woman said Brady set up a fake Facebook profile in her name, falsely accused her of abusing children, and bothered her boss, in a campaign that began in August 2011.
In 2005, a man filed a restraining order after Brady allegedly attacked him in a bar for “talking to a lady friend.” She hit and scraped him in the face repeatedly “with closed fists and her finger nails,” the man complained.
“I’m afraid of the day that it’s going to be a beer bottle she hits me with, or worse,” he wrote.
Immigration officials said Tuesday that said Brady entered the United States from Dublin in 2002 under an international agreement that allows visitors to stay in the country for 90 days without documentation. She has not left the United States since, officials said.
“She did not depart as required,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “This is her first encounter since that time with immigration officials.’’
Officials will move to deport her once the criminal charges are resolved, he said.
In Cambridge, one business owner regularly saw Brady caring for the child, and saw nothing amiss. “We would see the kid going by almost every day. When the stroller went by, she would stop and let the kid wave,” said Dao Lee, 55, who owns a laundromat on Mt. Auburn Street, near where Brady cared for Rehma.
It is unclear how the parents had come to hire Brady, but she had posted her profile on several child-care websites, including sittercity.com, looking for work, and the website removed that posting on Tuesday.
“Immediately upon learning of this situation, we removed Ms. Brady from the Sittercity network, terminated her membership, and notified members with whom she had ever communicated, even though she has not been active on Sittercity for nearly a year,’’ the company said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families said Brady “does not have a history” with the agency.
The company said it routinely conducts background checks, but noted that she has no criminal convictions in Massachusetts. “The Sittercity team is deeply saddened about this situation,’’ the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.’’