A Milwaukee father is facing child abuse charges after he told police he repeatedly hit his 15-month old son, according to a criminal complaint.
Dennis Torres, 28, was taken into custody last week after his mother found the severely injured baby and took him to the hospital. He has been charged with the physical abuse of a child, repeated acts causing great bodily harm and child neglect.
In the criminal complaint, Torres reportedly told police during an interview that he took the baby into his home in early April after the baby's mother died. But by April 17, he told police he was hitting the baby at least twice per day.
On April 23, he told police that he hit the baby approximately 50 times using a yellow belt and back scratcher. The next day, he told police he hit the child again when he found his cell phone in the toilet and a second time when he found his marijuana in the toilet.
He told police what he did was "inhumane," according to the criminal complaint.
Later on April 24, according to the criminal complaint, Torres called his mother telling her to come pick the baby up from his home. When the baby's grandmother arrived, she told police she could tell the baby was in great pain and that he had bruises on his forehead and a swollen jaw. She took the baby to the hospital.
Hospital staff noted his injuries as potentially life threatening. According to the criminal complaint, the baby had severe abdominal trauma, a liver laceration, pancreatitis and extensive bruising "all over his entire body."
TODAY's TMJ4 spoke to the child's grandmother on the phone, who asked that we not use her name, but she said the baby's condition has improved and he was released from the hospital last week.
Kevin "Judge" Parins is the president of the local chapter of Guardians of the Children. He says their organization helps families and victims of child abuse by supporting them in and out of the courtroom.
"If they ever need any support, they need us to come out and help the child feel love and that they have our support, we'll help," he said.
Police interviewed at least one witness who noticed the child's condition earlier in the day on April 24, but didn't call authorities.
Parins says their most important message is to report child abuse if you suspect anything.
"Don't let your silence drown out their cries," he said. "Really what that is touching on, if you suspect it, you have to report it."
Torres appeared in court on April 29. His attorney said that her client might not be competent to proceed in this case. He's due back in court at the end of May, after a doctor can examine him.
If convicted on the charges, Torres faces more than 50 years in prison.
Parins encourages families of victims of child abuse to contact the Guardians of the Children organization by calling 1-888-88GOCWI (1-888-884-6294).
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