Feb. 23—PORT CARBON — A Pottsville man turned himself in Tuesday to answer charges he violently shook an 11-month-old boy last year, causing severe and likely long-term injuries.
Patrick Tyler Curran, 27, of 1813 W. Market St., voluntarily came to the office of Magisterial District Judge David A. Plachko. He is charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault, one felony count of endangering the welfare of children, one misdemeanor count each of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person and a summary offense of harassment.
State police Trooper Tyler Brackman of the Schuylkill Haven station said the charges follow a lengthy investigation of an incident at 427 N. Second St. on Sept. 25. Brackman said police were called to the home to assist Schuylkill EMS with a boy who was reported to have fallen out of bed but were canceled and told the incident appeared to be accidental.
The boy was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, Allentown, where emergency personnel called state police about two hours later and reported the injuries appeared to be the result of possible abuse or an assault, Brackman said. Brackman was told the child's mother, Chelsea Martin, and Curran had been at the hospital for about 45 minutes but left about 30 minutes before the trooper arrived, saying the had to leave.
Brackman said the boy had visible injuries, mainly bruising on his head and face. He was told by hospital staff the injuries were not those that could be suffered in a normal fall.
Curran and Martin came to the state police station later that day and denied having anything to do with the injuries. Curran said he was watching the boy while Martin was at work. He said he and Martin were dating for about two months.
Brackman said Curran said he was folding wash around 6 p.m. and the boy fell off the bed, but seemed fine. Curran said he put the boy to bed around 11 p.m. and, around 1:45 a.m., the boy woke up screaming, prompting him to call Martin.
Martin came home and called 911, Brackman said, adding that Curran told him he had been drinking that night and that he and Martin had been arguing.
Martin said she returned home around 9:30 p.m., interacted with the child and that he seemed fine. The woman said she went to a friend's house and was driving home when Curran called her.
Three friends of Curran who were at the house were also interviewed. The men said they arrived between 6:30 and 7 p.m. and were drinking beer and some of them, including Curran, were smoking marijuana, Brackman said.
All three said they were told the boy fell out of bed about an hour before they arrived and that they interacted with the child and did not see any bruising, the trooper said.
The three added the boy appeared to be completely fine, sitting by himself and acting like a typical 11-month-old, Brackman said.
One of the men, Brackman said, reported he thought Curran and Martin had been fighting and that the woman was not happy when she left the home shortly after returning from work. Curran told one of the men that he thought Martin was going to Reading to see the child's father and that made him upset, the man said.
On Sept. 28, Brackman said, he spoke to Dr. Debra D. Esernio-Jenssen, chief child protective medicine physician at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, who said there was no way possible for the child's injuries to be the result of falling out of bed.
The doctor said the boy had severe retinal hemorrhaging, brain bleeds and brain damage. Esernio-Jenssen also said the boy suffered a tear to his upper frenula, a piece of soft tissue between the lips and gums.
Brackman said Esernio-Jenssen classified the injuries as "abusive head trauma" and said they were the result of "violent shaking by adult force." The doctor also reported that such trauma will very likely cause long-term physical, cognitive, development and behavioral health consequences.
The trooper said the injuries caused the boy to suffer seizures and remain at Lehigh Valley Hospital and then a pediatric rehabilitation center for an extended period.
Brackman said at the time the child suffered the injuries, Curran was the only other person in the house.
Before setting bail, Plachko informed Curran he had to also consider that there was an active bench warrant against him for failing to appear in court for drug paraphernalia charges.
"You have a history of failing to appear; that's a concern for the court," Plachko said. "You have yet to prove your ability to get to court."
Plachko set bail at 10% of $50,000 and ordered Curran remanded to Schuylkill County Prison on both the bail and the outstanding warrant.
The judge scheduled a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday in his Port Carbon courtroom.