An Illinois man remains in jail on a $2 million bond after being arrested on Saturday for bathing his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son in scalding hot water.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Michael Barber, 24, of East 155th Street in Harvey, Illinois, was bathing his girlfriend’s son at his apartment while the child’s mother was away at work. Barber said that while he was bathing the boy, he turned away for only a few minutes to get a towel. When he looked back, the baby was face-down in the bathtub, unresponsive.
Barber began screaming and calling for help throughout his apartment building. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) heard him and went over to him to help the baby. According to the CNA, the 1-year-old was still unconscious when she arrived. She used CPR to revive him.
Per Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Shawn Abraham, the severity of the situation became apparent after the baby was resuscitated. Numerous injuries were found, including “severe burns and blisters” all over his genitals and lower body, including his feet and toes. The CNA noticed a bite mark on the baby, which prompted her to call the police.
The baby was rushed to a local hospital emergency room, where he currently remains, awaiting a skin-graft operation. He is still recovering but is expected to survive.
Barber was arrested and charged with a felony count of aggravated battery to a child. On Saturday, a judge set his bail at $2 million. The baby’s father and grandmother, who attended the bail hearing, cried out in joy at the high bail amount, but were warned by Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas to show appropriate behavior in the courtroom.
“I understand, but we can’t have this.”
Chiampas also offered her sympathies to the baby’s family, who were clear shaken and upset about the incident.
“My heart goes out to all of you.”
The baby lives with his father, and has visitations with his mother on the weekends. She hasn’t commented on the issue and didn’t attend Barber’s bail hearing.
A similar issue happened in February, 2014, when a Johnstown, Pennsylvania, man deliberately put his 6-month-old daughter in scalding hot water. According to court documents, Earl Saunders, then 23, admitted to placing his infant daughter in the water after initially denying it. The baby suffered second degree burns to several parts of her body, and had to undergo an intensive skin-graft operation.
Saunders was arrested and charged with aggravated assault felony of the first degree against a child and endangering the welfare of children. He accepted a plea deal of 3-10 years in prison, followed by supervised probation.
The little girl’s grandmother Kimberly Drake, however, didn’t think the sentence was severe enough for him. During Saunders’ sentencing, she had the chance to confront him. Later, she revealed the following.
“Standing in front of him today- I had a lot of anger, a lot of hate for that man. He never once tried reaching out to see how she was doing, not once. How can you just do something like to a child because you’re having a bad or feeling sorry for yourself?”
The girl now attends therapy, wears medical lotions and skin stockings, and has difficulties walking because the burns went deep into her muscles. She’s also afraid to go near water.
Barber is due back in court on Wednesday, but unlike Saunders who confessed to his crime, the Illinois man maintains his innocence and claims the incident was an accident.
[Photo by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office]