A Hanover man has been charged for allegedly beating his then-2-month-old baby, which caused serious injuries to the infant, according to the borough's police department.
Derrick Allen DeGroft, 19, has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Aggravated assault is graded as a first-degree felony. If convicted for aggravated assault, DeGroft could spend up to 20 years in prison.
On Dec. 23, 2011, police responded to Hanover Hospital for an incident involving an infant. Doctors told police that the infant had been brought in earlier that day for injuries to his face and head. The injuries included a brain bleed, significant swelling and bruising to the left side of his face causing the left eye to be swollen shut.
The baby sustained these injuries when left in the care of his father, DeGroft, court documents obtained through Magisterial District Judge Dwayne Dubs state. When asked about his son's injuries, DeGroft said that they were caused either by a falling stroller or being struck by his 2-year-old sibling while DeGroft was in the bathroom.
The infant's mother, who was not identified in court documents, reportedly told police she left the baby with DeGroft for about two hours that day. When she returned, DeGroft said the baby needed to go to the hospital. The mother told police the baby's face was black and blue, and his left eye was swollen shut. The baby was also crying.
The mother said the infant was not injured before she left the house.
The baby was transported to Hershey Medical Center from Hanover Hospital for further treatment. Police said DeGroft told a child safety team at Hershey the 2-year-old caused the injuries.
DeGroft said he placed the infant in a bouncy chair on the floor, where the 2-year-old was watching television. DeGroft said he went to the bathroom for about 7 minutes, then heard the baby screaming. He told police the baby was still sitting in the bouncy chair and a double stroller was on him.
DeGroft said he had seen the 2-year-old strike the baby in the past. DeGroft said the baby fell asleep, but then woke up 20 minutes later crying. DeGroft then noticed swelling. He did not seek medical attention for the infant until the mother returned home.
Doctors said the baby's injuries were not consistent with being caused by either a falling stroller or a 2-year-old, according to police. Doctors also said there were other brain and spinal injuries to the infant which were difficult to date, but were indicative of a pattern of abuse.
Police filed charges against DeGroft on May 1. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 5. Bail was set at $50,000.
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