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Father faces child abuse charges of 11-week-old infant

The infant was crying and the father forced the baby’s mouth shut with his hand. He then violently shook and pressed the infant into the mattress of the bed, so much that the mother could feel the bed shaking, the complaint stated.

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A 20-year-old Brainerd man — who admitted to police he forced his 11-week-old infant's mouth shut when he cries, faces several felony charges for child abuse.

Tyler Lee Drake was charged Aug. 30 in Crow Wing County District Court with three felony counts of third-degree assault for causing substantial bodily harm, having a pattern of child abuse and assaulting of a victim under 4; and a fourth felony count for malicious punishment of a child.

The charges stem from a call Aug. 27 by the Staples Hospital to the Brainerd Police Department of a report of child maltreatment. Emergency department staff reported an 11-week-old infant who resides in Brainerd was brought to their emergency room by his parents with injuries consistent with significant child abuse, the complaint stated.

A Brainerd investigator met with the emergency department doctor and nurse who evaluated the infant. The infant had multiple injuries consistent with recent child maltreatment. The infant had a broken right clavicle bone, significant bruising on his chin and jaw bone area consistent with finger/hand prints and an injury to the end of his tongue resembling a tongue that had been compressed or bitten, the complaint stated. The doctor told police that the accounts from the parents of how the injuries occurred did not explain the injuries and were inconsistent.

Police identified the parents and Drake, the father, had already left the hospital. The investigator spoke to the mother who explained she resides with Drake and the infant in Brainerd. She initially reported to police she believed the infant fell out of a small bouncer chair that was on their bed, onto the bed and this may have caused the fracture of his clavicle bone. From consultation with the doctor and description of the incident this type of movement did not appear at all likely to have resulted in a broken clavicle. The mother then provided another explanation of what possibly happened to the infant. Two nights ago on Aug. 25 she was lying in bed with Drake and the infant. The infant was crying and Drake forced the baby’s mouth shut with his hand. Drake then violently shook and pressed the infant into the mattress of the bed, so much that the mother could feel the bed shaking, the complaint stated. The bruises on the infant's chin and jaw resembled fingertip-sized bruises. This account of what happened sounded more like how an infant's clavicle could have been broken, officials reported. The injury to the infant's tongue also appeared consistent with his mouth being forced shut and his tongue being compressed between his gums. The mother denied committing any acts of child maltreatment herself. The mother stated Drake has forced the infant's mouth shut multiple times in the past when he cries.

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Due to the open case involving ongoing child protection and current child maltreatment, the investigator placed the infant on a protective hold.

The investigator returned to Brainerd and met with Drake outside of his residence. Drake showed the investigator the bouncer chair and stated he believed this was how the infant may have fractured his clavicle. This again was not a reasonable explanation for the injuries, officials reported. Drake stated he was unaware of any acts by the mother that would have explained the injuries to the infant, other than saying the mother holds the infant on her arm when she burps him. Drake admitted to forcing the infant's mouth shut in the past when he cries, but said he does not do that anymore.

Drake was arrested and charged. His next court hearing is scheduled Sept. 23.

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