Orange, Calif., Nov. 24, 1984
David Rothenberg, the 8-year-old Brooklyn boy nearly burned to death by his father last year, hopes to give encouragement to Cheryl Bess, the teen-ager whose face was burned away with acid by a kidnapper, the mothers of the two children said today.
David is still an outpatient at the medical center of the University of California at Irvine, undergoing periodic reconstructive surgery to repair damage from third-degree burns he suffered over most of his body when his father set him ablaze in a motel room on a vacation 19 months ago. The father, Charles Rothenberg, is serving a 13-year prison sentence.
Cheryl, 15, of nearby San Bernardino, is in the same medical center. A 65- year-old man who assaulted her as she was walking to school has been charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.
Cheryl has just begun a series of operations to repair damage from the acid that was poured over her head, eating away the skin on her face and leaving her blind and temporarily speechless. Mothers Are Friends
''David keeps asking us if we've told Cheryl all about him,'' Marie Rothenberg said in an interview. ''He wants her to know that he was hurt bad too, and he got better. He wants her to know that she will too.''
A family friend, Judy Curtis, said: ''He wants very much to see her. And as soon as they'll let someone under 16 into her room, he will.''
That could be several weeks because of the severity of Cheryl's injuries. But David's mother, who has moved to southern California from their former home in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, has already befriended Cheryl's mother, Norma Bess.
''Marie remembers what it was like, how very ill David was,'' Mrs. Bess said. ''She searched me out. It's sisterhood at work.''
Dr. Bruce Achauer, head of the burn unit treating the two children, said he was amazed both by their suffering and their strength.
''What do you say about such indescribable injuries?'' he asked. ''I never imagined there was anything so low as people who would do these sorts of things to children.
''But the other side is the goodness that has sort of helped restore my faith in mankind, the people who have come out of the woodwork to help. And the courage of these children. Such courage.''
David Rothenberg Gallery