LAKE CITY, Fla. – Several days after a 19-year-old man was arrested on a child abuse charge over injuries to his girlfriend's 6-month-old child, the Lake City Police Department has charged the baby's mother with child neglect.
Last Friday night, the police began investigating a child abuse complaint from the Florida Department of Children and Families. Investigators said Malik Jackson and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Pope, took her 6-month-old daughter to a pediatrician, who expressed concern about injuries observed on the infant. In the complaint, police said, staff noted that Jackson and his girlfriend refused to follow the doctor's orders for treatment.
Staff at the pediatrician's office, who police said were concerned for the child's well-being, then contacted DCF, which sent an investigator to the child's home, then notified police.
Police said the DCF investigator took the infant to a hospital, where the child was confirmed to have a recent, trauma-caused break to both bones in her arm. DCF then took protective custody of the infant, and detectives with the Police Department began investigating.
During an interview with the infant's mother, investigators said she told them that she often left her child in Jackson's care. She also said that several times in the past, the infant would return with red marks and bruises, according to police.
When investigators questioned Jackson about the infant's broken arm, he told investigators that it was a "birth defect," police said. During that interview, police said, Jackson also told investigators that the infant had rolled over wrong and twisted her own arm.
Investigators said those descriptions did not match up with the findings from medical staff, who later learned the baby also had fractures in seven of her ribs.
Jackson was arrested on Saturday and charged with aggravated child abuse. He was booked into the Columbia County Jail on Saturday and ordered held on $100,00 bond.
Detectives said they also learned that Jackson is on probation in Georgia, where he is also under court order to have no contact with his girlfriend and to attend anger management classes.
On Thursday, police learned that the baby had seven fractured ribs and the injuries appeared to be seven to 10 days old. After Pope was re-interviewed and detectives said she admitted to continuing to leave her daughter in Jackson's care after witnessing abuse, she was charged with child abuse and also booked into the county jail.
Police said the infant remains in the care of DCF as the investigation continues.
“When you have a 6-month-old baby that suffers two broken forearm bones and seven fractured ribs, the child is no longer safe in her own home," Lake City Police Chief Argatha Gilmore said. “I applaud the quick response of the DCF investigator in getting the necessary and immediate care for the infant and for Investigator Johns for unraveling the lies in an attempt to cover up the abuse to this child.”