Police say a 32-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man shook and hit his 3-month-old daughter, causing brain damage that required doctors to put her in a medically induced coma for a month.
Joseph P. Lemay, 32, Wisconsin Rapids, is in jail on a $100,000 cash bond set Friday by Wood County Circuit Judge Greg Potter for two counts of child abuse and two felony counts of child neglect.
Police charged the baby’s mother, Meghan E. Newman, 33, of Marshfield, with a felony charge of neglecting a child; the baby’s injuries occurred while Newman was away for the weekend.
According to court documents:
Doctors at the Marshfield Medical Center on Feb. 18 reported to the Marshfield Police Department concerns about injuries suffered by a 3-month-old baby girl. The girl was bruised across her body, had “significant” brain bleeding and was having seizures, according to a doctor.
The doctor told police the baby had serious injuries consistent with child abuse and shaken baby syndrome. The doctor said because the baby suffered significant brain trauma and brain hemorrhaging, doctors had to sedate her into a medically-induced coma where she would remain almost a month.
Lemay told detectives he became frustrated with the baby when he was watching her for a weekend, and she wouldn’t stop crying and “slammed her onto the couch” a couple of times, which may have made her head shake. When detectives said that wouldn’t have caused the baby’s injuries, Lemay said he had become frustrated with the baby on the morning of Feb. 17 because she wouldn’t stop crying. He said he shook her in her bouncy seat for about 30 seconds, making her head snap back and forth.
Lemay said when he finished shaking his daughter, she looked at him with a shocked expression and immediately began to cry.
Lemay said he shook his daughter even more aggressively the next day when he again became frustrated with her crying. He said he shook her for one to two minutes with her head snapping back and forth.
Newman told detectives that she left her children, including their 3-month-old baby, home with Lemay. Newman left town with friends at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16.
Newman said Lemay called her six times on the morning of Feb. 17. He told her the baby was throwing up and Newman told him to give the baby some medicine she had in the house. Newman told a detective that nothing Lemay said made her think something was seriously wrong with the baby.
Lemay again called Newman on Sunday morning and said the baby threw up again. Newman wasn’t concerned and returned home as planned on Sunday evening. Newman told detectives the baby was warm to the touch when she arrived home and she decided to give her a bath. Newman noticed bruises on the baby but continued the bath rather than ask Lemay about them.
When the baby began having seizures, Newman took her to Marshfield Medical Center.
Newman told a detective she knew Lemay could get violent at times. She said she would have a neighbor look in on him as a safety precaution when he was watching the children. She did not have anyone check on Lemay during her weekend away.
Lemay had been convicted of first-degree reckless injury in 2007 after he and another man beat a Marshfield man with a pipe. Lemay was sentenced to eight years in prison and eight years extended supervision, according to court records.
Lemay said he and Newman both knew he was not supposed to spend the night at her residence and he was not supposed to have contact with children as part of the terms of his extended supervision. Police said Lemay told them Newman knew he had a history of violence with children. Doctors do not yet know how extensive the damage is to the baby’s brain.
Lemay’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 105 years in prison. Newman faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, if she is convicted.
Newman is scheduled to make an initial appearance May 14 on a felony charge of neglecting a child and misdemeanor charges of encouraging a parole violation and obstructing an officer.
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Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.