PRINCE COUNTY – A 21-year-old Prince County man has been charged with assaulting a three-month-old infant.
The case has been under investigation since June 23, when a family member brought the child into Prince County Hospital.
Subsequent X-rays revealed the infant had several broken bones.
The accused’s community has also been withheld for the time being.
Sgt. Andrew Blackadar said that assault cases involving children this young are relatively rare.
“We see this probably two or three times a year (on P.E.I),” said Blackadar.
Once the extent of the child’s injuries were determined here in Summerside, doctors decided to move the child to IWK hospital in Halifax.
The infant has since been released from hospital and is being “cared for by an appropriate caregiver,” according to the RCMP.
“The infant was pretty resilient and is fine at this point,” said Blackadar.
The man and child knew each other, but police are not commenting on any other connection between the two.
The accused will appear in provincial court in Summerside this October on charges of assault causing bodily harm and negligence causing bodily harm.
Blackadar also said cases involving infants are complex and since the subject is usually unable to speak for themselves, investigators have to rely heavily on the facts provided by doctors and witnesses.
“Under two (years of age) children aren’t really talking that well and it’s very hard to determine what happened – if it was an accident. That’s why we have to defer to this child protection team at the IWK to help us determine whether they are criminal injuries or whether they are accidental injuries,” said Blackadar.
“We have to look at the big picture and see what happened,” he added.
“A child could fall, even down stairs, because someone has forgotten to put a gate across – but it’s not necessarily (criminal) negligence.”
Almost 1,400 babies are born on P.E.I. each year. Although there are no concrete statistics, several are taken to the IWK each year with abusive head trauma caused by shaking, the highest rate of referral in the Atlantic provinces.
It is unclear exactly what caused the infant’s injuries in this case.