Man charged with maliciously punishing, assaulting infant; Alleged victim had bruising on arms and legs
A Brownsdale man who allegedly caused bruising on a five-week-old infant made his first appearance on Friday in Mower County District Court.
Zachary Andrew Paulsen, 20, has been charged with felony third-degree assault – child under 4 years of age – multiple bruises, felony malicious punishment of a child under 4 years of age – multiple bruises – and gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child.
According to the court complaint, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office was notified on Dec. 12 of suspected child abuse involving a five-week-old infant. A Mower County Health and Human Services child protection caseworker reported that the victim had multiple bruises on his arms and legs and asked a Mower County detective for assistance in interviewing the victim’s mother and her boyfriend, Paulsen.
They first interviewed the victim’s mother, who initially had no explanation for the victim’s bruises. When asked if she ever got frustrated or upset when the victim cried, she said she would leave the immediate area while the victim cried. When asked if she had seen Paulsen get frustrated or upset, she said she saw him get mad and would “step in” and take the victim from Paulsen.
She claimed she never saw Paulsen do anything abusive to the victim, but when the detective advised that he did not believe she was telling him everything, she said she was “scared to” because of what Paulsen might do. When she was assured she and the victim would be safe, she said, “It happened this morning.” She reported Paulsen was mad at her for asking him to feed the victim and that the victim put his hands to his face while Paulsen was feeding him. She also reported previously seeing Paulsen grab the victim’s arms and “very violently” pull them away from his face, saying she believed that was how the victim got bruising on his arms.
When asked about the bruising on the victim’s legs and ankles, she said that Paulsen caused them while trying to “burp” the victim. She said the victim would curl his legs under his body while being burped and Paulsen would pull them straight and hold them in that position. She also said Paulsen “violently” removes the victim from his car seat.
She described Paulsen as having “anger issues” and said she hoped he would get help for them.
They then interviewed Paulsen, who initially said he had “no idea” how the bruising occurred. He did admit he was “upset” that morning because he had been woken up to feed the victim and that when the victim put his hands to his mouth, he pulled them down. He said he had “gently” done that in the morning. He demonstrated on a doll, saying, “He’s always keeping his arms up here in front of his mouth, so what I do is grab here, very lightly, and pull it down.”
When asked if he had ever pulled the victims arms forcefully when he got upset, Paulsen said, “I don’t know. I might have.” He then added, “When I get angry, I just black out,” but said he would never deliberately hurt anyone. When asked if he had pulled the victim’s arms too hard that morning and caused bruising, Paulsen said, “It might have. Honestly, I don’t know how to control my anger. I need to be on medication for it.” Paulsen indicated he had been “too rough” with the victim that morning, but said the bruising on the victim’s arms had been there a few days and that he had not previously pulled the victim’s arms when he was angry.
When asked about the bruises on the victim’s legs, Paulsen said he had “no idea’ how that occurred and denied pulling the victim’s legs while burping him. He said that he would “lightly push down” on the victim’s legs until they were straight while changing his diaper.
Paulsen will appear in court again on Dec. 26.
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