A Kentucky mother and her boyfriend have been arrested on charges of child abuse while a 2-month-old baby is struggling to remain alive.
Amber Sickles, 19, and Brandon Meyer, 24, took the infant to a local hospital on June 1 for unrelated issues, according to WDRB. After an examination, doctors concluded that the child showed signs of abuse and was transferred to a children's hospital for more specialized care.
Hospital staff told police that the baby had multiple bruises to the face, a spinal injury, an abrasion to the neck, and subcutaneous emphysema -- or pockets of air -- in the tissues under his skin. He also had a hole in his esophagus, which staff said was likely caused by someone sticking something down his throat.
"The injuries were described to this detective to be near-fatal injuries," according to the arrest report.
Sickles and Meyer were immediately questioned by police, according to WBTV. Meyer admitted that he "possibly grabbed the baby by his chin to get his pacifier in."
Sickles said that neither she nor Meyer abused the child and offered possible explanations for the infant's injuries. However, police and hospital staff have confirmed that her description of how things happened could not possibly account for the extent of the infant's injuries.
During a follow-up interview June 8, Sickles admitted that Meyer consistently abused the child and consistently stuck his finger down the baby's throat to get him to stop crying. Meyer would also grab the boy's chin and slam him into the bassinet. Sickles stated that the abuse has been occurring since the baby was 5 weeks old and, although she witnessed her boyfriend's behavior, she never reported him.
When police confronted Meyer with the accusations, he again said that he "may have possibly grabbed the victim on the chin, and that could cause the bruising."
Sickles and Meyer have been arrested for first-degree criminal abuse of a child. Meyer faces an additional charge of second-degree assault on a child 12 or under.
The couple pleaded not guilty June 9 and a judge has set each of their bonds at $100,000 cash. Their next court appearance will be June 19 for a probable cause hearing.
Judge Jennifer Porter has additionally considered them both a danger to others. The couple is prohibited from contacting each other and the baby.
The child is still receiving treatment and his condition is unknown.