MAYS LANDING — Nicole Miller and her girlfriend, both charged with assaulting Miller’s 11-year-old daughter last week, were ordered released pending trial Tuesday morning.

Heather Grosso, 36, and Miller, 32, who both live with the victim in Mays Landing, were ordered released from the Atlantic County jail after separate detention hearings held virtually before county Superior Court Judge John R. Rauh.

Both women have been charged with simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the July 29 incident in Pleasantville, which left the girl with two swollen eyes, bite marks and a bald patch, court documents show. Miller also was charged with aggravated assault.

Both women wore orange jail uniforms and masks during their hearings. Grosso nodded or shook her head as her attorney spoke; Miller wiped tears from her eyes.

An affidavit of probable cause states Miller and Grosso attacked the girl while in a car before pulling over and continuing the assault on the side of the road until the girl ran to a nearby playground.

“Mr. Maher, I know you’re anxious to argue, but if I told you I was going to let your client go, could we shortcut some of this?” Rauh asked Grosso’s defense attorney, John Maher. “Your client doesn’t have any significant prior history. I don’t know what happened in that car.”

As conditions of their release, Miller and Grosso must report by phone to court staff once a month, must appear for all scheduled court hearings and must not commit any offenses, among other conditions.

They also are not to have any contact with the victim, who is currently in the custody of her godmother or grandmother, Assistant Prosecutor Deirdre Laws said.

Laws unsuccessfully argued to detain both women.

Although Grosso scored very low on the judiciary’s public safety assessment, Laws said it “does not properly capture her dangerousness and her risk of failure to appear in court.”

“I think it’s important to note that the victim sustained a bruise, swollen left and right eye, bite marks to the right cheek area and wrist and a bald patch on the back of her head due to the pulling out of her hair,” Laws said. “The brutality of this assault in and of itself, especially given the vulnerability of the victim and her age, that being 11, amplified and demonstrated the defendant’s dangerousness and warrants detention.”

During Grosso’s hearing, Maher cited three witness statements that he described as giving “competing narratives” against the statement given by the girl’s godmother to police.

According to one juvenile in the car, the girl was “going wild,” hitting both women and having a “fit, kicking the car’s windshield,” Maher said.

“Miss Miller, the co-defendant, placed (the victim) in a bear hug to restrain her, but she continued to hit Miss Grosso,” Maher read from the statement. “Miss Grosso was driving and trying to protect herself from being hit by (the victim). Other than Miss Grosso flailing her arms to protect herself from being hit by (the victim) Miss Grosso did not hit (the victim).”

Both Grosso and Miller are scheduled for a pre-indictment conference Sept. 16 before Judge Donna M. Taylor.

Contact: 609-272-7241

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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