Man, 28, accused of abusing 1-year-old girl

Girl suffered broken rib, internal bleeding, bruises

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 28-year-old Jacksonville man was arrested Friday night and charged with aggravated child abuse on a 1-year-old girl.

Tommy Butler is charged with aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement.

Police were called to Wolfson Children's Hospital just before 9 p.m. Friday after a Department of Children and Families investigator already at the hospital was investigating a report of child abuse from doctors.

Police said the girl appeared to have a rib fracture, internal bleeding, and external bruises on her stomach and back.

"These children are incredibly fragile and something like this could have been much worse," said DCF's John Harrell.

The girl underwent surgery Friday night and remained at the hospital in stable condition Monday. She was expected to make a full recovery.

"We still need to talk with friends, and family members to get a picture of what the living situation was for the child to see if there has been any other maltreatment," said Harrell.

The girl's mother, who was also at the hospital Friday night, told police her daughter started getting sick and throwing up on Thursday, so she took her to the hospital. She said she didn't know where the girl's bruises came from and said they may have happened while at the girl's father's house, according to a police report.

According to police report, the mother of the 1-year-old told investigators the girl had spent the previous weekend away from home with other relatives.

DCF believes Butler is the boyfriend of the girl's mother.

"Something that concerns us, in addition to the abuse, is that this man is the boyfriend of the mother of this child. And the stats show that 67% of child abuse cases nationally involve a perpetrator who is the boyfriend of the mother of the child," said Harrell.

According to Harrell, this case is an example of how parents need to observe interaction between their partners and children.

"They need to choose wisely and choose cautiously who their partners are, because you never know, something like this could happen."

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