Auburndale man facing aggravated child abuse charges
(BTLS Staff) AUBURNDALE, Fla. – A 19-year-old Auburndale man is in the Polk County Jail facing two counts of aggravated child abuse.
Norman Gaskins III is being held on a bond of $150,000.
According to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies initiated an investigation on March 19th in regards to an injured child. Investigators were told by an official with the Department of Children and Families that a two-month-old girl had been airlifted by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital with bleeding in the brain one day prior.
The report states the child was originally transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center before medical personnel made the decision to take her to TGH.
A CT scan was conducted showed a right temporal fracture in the victim’s skull. As for the bleeding in the brain some was old and some was recent. The child also had six fractures to the left side of her rib cage.
The doctor told investigators the injuries were consistent with those caused by ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome.’ Polk SO detectives learned the two primary care-givers for the child were Gaskins and 21-year-old Mary James.
Gaskins was at home alone with the child on March 18th while James was working. The pair told investigators they took the baby to the Night Owl Clinic in Winter Haven because the child was pale and appeared to be not feeling well.
The suspect stated to deputies the little girl was not herself for approximately one week. The doctor at the clinic observed swelling in the baby’s head and advised the couple to take the baby to LRMC.
Both Gaskins and James denied hurting the child. On March 20th, detectives interviewed Gaskins who claimed he unintentionally hit the baby’s head on the crib while he was putting her down.
The suspect also said he dropped his cell phone on the child’s head.
Deputies re-interviewed Gaskins on Monday when he admitted to twice becoming frustrated with the baby because she was crying and would not stop. The suspect said he picked up the victim around her stomach with both hands and began to shake her.
Gaskins admitted to shaking the toddler in frustration on two occasions on February 28th and again on March 9th.
The child underwent treatment at TGH and is expected to be discharged into the care of Mary James later this week. James was cooperative during the investigation and investigators do not believe she played any part in the child’s injuries.
The victim’s current condition is good/stable but it’s to early to tell if she will suffer any developmental delays from the injuries she sustained.
“I strongly urge anyone who is caring for a baby and who is feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, to reach out to family or medical professionals for help,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “There is no excuse to hurt a baby or child. Never, never, ever shake a baby. We will arrest you, take you to jail, and hold you accountable for your actions if you do.”