Alleged child abuser changes plea to guilty for charges of harming boy

An Austin man changed his plea to guilty after he was arrested this spring for harming a 2-year-old boy.

Benjamin Isaiah Waidler Stayton pleaded guilty to one count of malicious punishment of a child, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 30.

According to a police complaint, the 2-year-old’s grandmother found bruising inside the victim’s ear while bathing him Jan. 1. After Stayton and the boy’s mother took the child to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, doctors found dark blue and purple bruising on the tops of the victim’s ears and a bump on his forehead, as well as the back of his head.

Hospital staff called police at about 10 p.m. Jan. 1. The boy’s mom told police she had no idea her child was injured and had last inspected his ears when she gave him a bath Dec. 30, according to the police report.

Stayton and the mother told police he had watched the victim from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, as the two were to spend New Year’s Eve together with the victim and Stayton’s 6-year-old daughter. The mother reportedly went to a liquor store with another friend but couldn’t start her car. According to the report, she called Stayton be he didn’t answer, so she called other friends to jump her battery. Stayton allegedly said he had played with the 2-year-old, and put the victim to bed in his crib, where Stayton found him crying about 10 minutes later, according to the court complaint.

The mother found Stayton holding the screaming child over his crib when she got home, according to the complaint.

Days later, Stayton allegedly remembered he had been chasing the 2-year-old around a kitchen table when he tripped on a book or blanket and fell onto the child, who fell and hit his head on a wall, allegedly causing the bump on the back of his head, according to the complaint.

—Matt Peterson contributed to this report.

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