Three-year-old hurt, stepfather arrested

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A Westfield man was held in lieu of $2,000 cash bail after he was arraigned in Westfield District Court on charges including assault and battery on a child with injury.

A Westfield officer reports in a court filing that an investigation into injuries sustained by a three-year-old boy began after the boy’s biological father picked up his children for his weekend with them and observed that his son’s face was injured. Officer Juanita Mejias reports that she was dispatched to the pediatric unit at Baystate Medical Center where she met the boy’s father, his five-year-old sister and Department of Children and Families workers who were familiar with the family’s situation.

Mejias reports that the left side of the boy’s face, temple, cheek and eye area were bruised.

When the boy was released from the hospital, Mejias reports, the DCF workers took emergency custody of the two children and she was told that other DCF workers had also taken custody of a third child, the children’s one-year-old half-sister. The boy’s father told Mejias that he had gone to his former wife’s Meadow Street home on Saturday morning to pick up his children for his scheduled weekend with them and immediately noticed that his son’s face was injured. He told Mejias that, before he could say anything, his former wife immediately told him that the boy had fallen from his bed onto his toy train set. The man said that he did not believe what she had said but did not verbalize any objections “to avoid any problems” but, once the children were in his vehicle, he photographed the boy’s injuries.

After the boy’s injuries had been treated, both children were interviewed by a forensic interviewer using a well-codified procedure to minimize the emotional trauma to the child while allowing all the interested investigators to be out-of-sight yet observe the child describe the event being investigated. When the interviewer was explaining what she did the girl interrupted saying “well I know what happened” and said that the incident occurred because her stepfather “was mad.” When asked why her stepfather was mad, the girl said “he’s always mad, that’s ‘cause he keeps drinking beer.” The girl said that “He really gets angry and he hits me in the face” as she demonstrated by slapping her own face. When the girl was asked what the man hits her with she said, “with a hammer, he slams me with it.”
The girl said “He drinks a beer forever and makes us very, very scared” before saying that the man hits herself and three three-year-old brother but does not hit their baby brother (the man’s biological son) “’cause he likes (the baby).”

When the interviewer spoke with the boy he told her that his stepfather had hurt him. The boy said “He hurt my lips, he hurt me like this, like that” and slapped himself on the left side of his face repeatedly until the interviewer stopped him. When asked if the man had hurt him before, the boy replied “He hit me and hit me and hit me” as he again continuously slapped himself until he was stopped by the interviewer.

Both children told the interviewer that their mother had not hurt them and said they were only struck by their stepfather.

Mejias reports that she visited the children’s home and spoke with their mother who showed them her children’s bedrooms. Mejias saw that the boy’s bed was about a foot higher than the carpeted floor and that the plastic trains were set up about three feet away from the bed. The woman said that the trains were located in their usual place and said that “if they were ever moved they were always moved back against the wall and away from his bedside for bedtime.”

When interviewed at the station, the woman said that she had not noticed any injuries to the boy’s face when she put him to bed the night before but observed that her son’s eyelid was swollen and there was a mark under his eye when he got up that morning. She told Mejias that her son said he did not know what happened to his eye.

The woman was showed a photograph of the boy’s injuries as they were treated at the hospital and she indicated that they had looked much less severe when she saw him. She said the boy said his face did not hurt when she poked it and she decided it did not need medical attention.

She said that her son sleeps with a train and said that she thought he had fallen from the bed onto a toy.

In a statement, the boy’s father said that both he and his girlfriend were immediately struck by the appearance of the boy’s face and said his daughter told him that her mother “told them to say (the boy) fell out of bed onto his track.”
The man said that after he assured his son that he had done nothing wrong and was not in any trouble the three-year-old boy said “Paul really hit me on the face.”

His girlfriend said that when the little girl’s father asked her what had happened she said “Mommy told us to tell you he fell out of bed.” Mejias said that when she attempted to speak with the suspect, Paul M. Royland, 32, of 87 Meadow St., the man said that he had been advised by his lawyer not to speak with police.

Royland was then taken into custody and arrested on two charges of assault and battery in a domestic relationship and a charge of assault and battery on a child with injury.

He appeared before Judge Rita Koenigs in Westfield District Court on Thursday for arraignment and was held in lieu of $2,000 cash bail pending a Feb. 20 hearing.

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Media Credit: The Westfield News

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