GREENFIELD — A young father who took his sick child to the doctor later admitted to police the 3-month-old’s symptoms emerged after he violently shook the baby.
William McDonald, 20, of Shirley, was arrested and booked into the Hancock County Jail Thursday after he told investigators he lost control while babysitting his infant son on May 9, police said.
He was charged Friday with Class B felony charges of battery and neglect and is ordered to have no contact with his son, according to court records.
McDonald’s is the second case of shaken-baby syndrome in as many weeks that has prompted criminal charges.
The child’s mother, McDonald’s girlfriend, was at work, and McDonald was alone with the child when the baby began crying and wouldn’t stop no matter what the young father did to try to soothe him, McDonald told police.
“He says he just lost control of his emotions,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche, who is leading the investigation. “He panicked and violently shook the child.”
The baby’s mother told police she had warned McDonald in the past about being too rough with the child, but she believed it was because he was a young, inexperienced father, not because he wanted to hurt the baby.
“She didn’t feel that it was where he was out of control or anything,” Rasche said.
Police do not believe the mother knew what her boyfriend had done, Rasche said.
The child was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis on Wednesday for excessive vomiting. McDonald did not initially indicate knowing what could have caused the child’s condition, police said.
Doctors assessed the child and found evidence of subdural hematomas and retinal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma caused by shaking.
Doctors conducted a number of other tests to rule out any pre-existing conditions but found no evidence of an underlying illness, Rasche said.
The baby remains in the critical care unit at Riley Hospital. He has been suffering seizures, but his condition is improving, Rasche said. The child is not expected to have long-term health problems.
The child of another Greenfield couple recently arrested on neglect charges, Michael Knott and Andie Suddarth, was injured so severely she went blind.
The couple’s 3-month-old daughter suffered brain bleeding and retinal hemorrhaging during an incident in late March, and doctors discovered old injuries while examining her that suggested the abuse was ongoing, officials said.
Neither parent could provide any explanation for the child’s injuries, according to court documents, but prosecutors say doctors found the injuries consistent with shaking the child or slamming her down onto a soft surface.
The couple pleaded not guilty to neglect and have been ordered to have no contact with the child. The parents return to court June 5.