Tosa Mom's Abuse of 3-Month-Old Caught on Video; Felony Charges Filed
Father filming contented infant left video camera running when he stepped out to make a call, returned to find child shrieking and damning evidence on his camera.
A 19-year-old Wauwatosa woman is facing charges of aggravated child abuse after she was inadvertently recorded on a home video repeatedly and forcefully striking her 3-month-old daughter.
Chancline Carmaletta Babcock was charged Monday morning in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with four felony counts of child abuse, intentionally causing harm – one for each time she furiously slapped the baby across face and shoulders. Each count carries a maximum six-year prison sentence if she is convicted.
According to police reports:
The child’s father, interviewed at Children's Hospital, told Wauwatosa police that at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, he had been filming his daughter at their apartment in the 1000 block of North 68th Street as she lay on a couch cooing and laughing.
The man said he needed to make a call to his boss but didn’t have a working phone, so he went downstairs to borrow one from a neighbor, leaving the camera running. He said he thought his little girl might be trying to mouth her first word, and he didn't want to miss it.
When he came back about five minutes later, he said, he could hear the child screaming. He found her in a hysterical fit of crying and said her face was quite red. He picked her up to calm her, he said, and then recalled the running video camera.
He viewed the footage and saw the infant beginning to get restless shortly after he had left and then begin to cry a little. Suddenly, Babcock strode into the room and slapped her baby hard across the face.
The baby only cried more loudly from the pain, and 30 seconds later, Babcock slapped the child three more times across the face and neck area with great force.
All the blows were distinctly audible on the footage as very hard slaps, he said, and as police would later confirm.
Father, in a rage, demands his child
The father, after seeing the video, said he walked out of the room enraged, grabbed the mother of his child and threw her to the floor in anger.
He demanded to know if she’d just hit the girl, and Babcock denied it, then denied it again even after he told her he’d seen it on video.
He then went downstairs to call his aunt to come over, fearing that if left alone with her he might kill Babcock.
When he went back upstairs he found the door locked. He broke it down, found Babcock holding his daughter and demanded she turn the infant over to him.
When she wouldn’t do so, he grabbed a screwdriver and threatened to stab her if he had to to get the child away from her. At that, Babcock handed the baby over, and her father took her downstairs to wait for his aunt.
When she arrived, they went back upstairs to find Babcock hysterical and saying she wanted to die. They removed all the knives from the kitchen and then took the baby to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Report of 'suicidal' woman called in
Apparently, it was the aunt who called police, to warn that Babcock might be suicidal. The 911 recording has not yet been released, but Wauwatosa police sources say that the aunt went on to relate details of the alleged abuse of the infant.
Officers found Babcock sitting on a couch, sobbing, and she told them her baby had been taken away from her by its father and his aunt and taken to Children’s Hospital.
When police asked why, Babcock admitted that she had struck the child several times and that the father had a video recording of it.
Police asked her what she thought police would think when they saw it, and Babcock said, “You’re going to think it’s pretty bad.”
They did. Babcock was held at her apartment while a detective was sent to Children’s. He found the father, his aunt and the baby at the emergency room and viewed the video with the father, seeing and hearing exactly what has already been described.
The detective called the officers waiting with Babcock and advised them to immediately place her under arrest.
The child's father, who is not married to Babcock, told police that Babcock's mother had warned him that she thought her daughter was not fit to be a mother and might abuse the child, but he had seen no signs of such behavior.
He said, though, that when the child was born, Babcock had seemed "more surprised than excited," and that made him wary.
Babcock made a full confession to police and told them she had "snapped" because of the baby's crying.
The infant girl was treated for bruises and scrapes and was CT scanned and X-rayed for internal injuries, a report on which was not yet available from Wauwatosa police.
The Child Welfare Bureau was advised of the incident and is reviewing it. For the time being, the child is in the care of her father.
Babcock is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail with a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 18.