'Something happened' to injured infant, mother upset with investigation
UPDATE- Zachary Police Chief David McDavid told WBRZ this morning he was holding meetings with his department to talk about ways to improve and streamline reports. He said the report was approved by a supervisor, but the buck stops at the city prosecutor since he can add or reduce charges.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
ZACHARY- The mother of a baby is pleading for justice after she says she dropped her child off at a babysitter's home while she went to work and her child was injured.
The mother believes she was failed by law enforcement and the Zachary city prosecutor.
Medical reports obtained by the Investigative Unit show the child who was four months old at the time had bruising to the head, face, outer and upper lip, scratches on both cheeks, and a contusion to the mouth. The injuries are backed up by pictures that were taken of the child at the time.
Emily Eldridge said she immediately asked her babysitter, Sarah Conrad, what had happened when she picked up her baby.
"She said it was from sucking on a bottle too hard, and when I put him in the car that's when I seen the bruising on the face, the black eye, and all the marks," Eldridge said.
Eldridge said she immediately took her child to the hospital where his injuries were noted. The hospital contacted a detective from the Zachary Police Department who took notes and then questioned the babysitter one week later.
The reports noted the same thing the babysitter told the mother. Conrad said the lip bruise came from sucking on a bottle. Detectives read Conrad her rights and charged her with Louisiana Statute 14:35:1, Battery on a Child Welfare worker. The only problem is the charge made no sense. The four-month old baby did not injure the babysitter.
"With the charges they put on her, I don't think it has anything to do with what she's done," Eldridge said.
A few months later, the case went to Zachary City court. East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Trae Welch is also the City Prosecutor. Welch says he dismissed the charges.
"Obviously the charge that was charged is not the correct charge," Welch said. "It was a battery on a welfare worker."
Welch has the authority to change it, but he did not.
"I'm not complaining about that or we dropped it because of that, that's not what we did," Welch said. "What is in this framework what we have that we can charge..and can we prove that charge."
Trae Welch said since he dropped the charges about six months ago, nothing has happened with the case. He says even though the baby was hurt in Conrad's care, he couldn't find a charge that would fit the babysitter neglecting the child which wound up injured. Since that time, the case has just sat in Zachary, and nothing has happened.
"As far as the state goes, my understanding is everyone was notified," Welch said.
We checked with the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office. They said they were never notified about this case. The State Department of Children and Family Services does not talk about cases involving juveniles and by law can't even confirm if something exists.
Tonight, no one answered the door where Conrad lives, but many people we talked to in the neighborhood were aware of what happened there.
"I'm going to keep fighting until I get justice for him and she's in jail," Emily Eldridge said.
So far, justice hasn't been easy to find in Zachary even though everyone agrees the babysitter's story isn't adding up. Welch agrees the child did not get the bruising on its lip from sucking on a bottle.
"What it looked like to me is something happened to the child," Welch said.
The police report noted that Conrad baby sits four kids at a time and has three children of her own. Meanwhile, Welch said the mother's best course of action is to sue the babysitter.