A 21-year-old man has been charged with seriously injuring his 2-year-old daughter while in his care in a Grandview residence, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced.
Joshua A. Coleman faces a first-degree assault charge.
According to court records filed Friday, a neighbor called 911 and Grandview police arrived Thursday morning to a Grandview home on the report of a child not breathing. They found Coleman performing CPR on the girl, who was not responsive. She is now in critical condition at Children's Mercy Hospital.
Hospital staff alerted police, according to court records, that the child's injuries were not consistent with her father's story that she had fallen off a couch and he thought she was choking on something. However, hospital staff said the child had sustained head trauma, causing bleeding in the brain, contusions on her lungs, possible injury to her spleen and multiple bruises on every part of her body. A member of the girl's surgery team said the injury to her lungs couldn't have been consistent with CPR, even if done incorrectly, and that the blood on her brain could only be caused by blunt force trauma or shaken baby syndrome.
Court documents said witnesses told police they had seen bruising on the girl as well as a bump and swelling on her head.
When police spoke to the victim's mother, she told them she had confronted Coleman about bruising she'd seen on her daughter's body when she dropped the girl off with Coleman. His explanation of the bruising was that the child had received it while playing with her cousins.
In addition, Coleman told the victim's mother on Wednesday that he had become angry with the child when she "decided to hit me back," and he stated that "your daughter almost died last night and you think it is funny," before he hung up.
Coleman told police he disciplined the child for things like not eating by striking her with a belt, knocking her to the ground and forcefully clapping the child on both sides of the head around the ears. He said he would do this to her with force every three minutes or so, sometimes at every meal, if she refused to eat.
"Coleman advised that he possibly used the clapping technique 12 times or so per meal," according to court documents.
He said he was striking her several times in the buttocks with a belt when she fell off the couch and struck her head. Coleman then picked her up, put her back on the couch and struck her several more times with the belt. Court documents said the little girl fell off the couch a second time, again striking her head.
Prosecutors requested a cash bond of $250,000 for Coleman.
A woman who knew the father said she hated the way she saw him treat his daughter. She said she understood he would use a belt on her.
"Somebody has to be a voice for this child," the woman who asked not to be identified said. "The way he talked to her was very harsh for a 1-year-old, 2-year-old."
Neighbors had heard the abuse. It wasn't immediately clear whether the authorities had previously been contacted and whether the state had investigated or not.
The woman told KCTV5 she did try to report the abuse to state social workers, but her cries for help fell on deaf ears because she didn't see actual abuse but only threats of abuse.
"I actually felt in my gut that he was doing things to this baby behind closed doors because of the things he was doing in front of me were traumatic to me, very scary," the woman said. "I tried to prevent it, but they want to see scars and bruises. Now she's on life support. Really? What is it going to take."
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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