Dad admits abusing baby

Published 8:16 am Friday, March 19, 2010

WINDSOR—A 22-year-old Windsor man who dunked his infant son’s hand into a hot cup of coffee last year pleaded guilty to felony child abuse in Isle of Wight Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Isle of Wight County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer said Eric Douglas Powers will be sentenced June 23 for the crime, which is a Class 4 felony and is punishable by two years to 10 years in prison.

“The child was reaching for a cup of coffee,” Farmer said Thursday. “(Powers) said, ‘It’s hot, don’t touch it.’ And I guess to demonstrate to the child that it was hot, he dunked his hand down in it and scalded the child’s hand fairly severely.”

According to Farmer, the child was 14 months old at the time of the Oct. 15 incident, and several family members were present. The child was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment and has since recovered from his injuries.

Farmer said Powers was originally charged with felony child abuse and malicious wounding, but the latter charge was dropped “once we received information from the doctors and the hospital that the child has no permanent injury to the hand. The injury itself would not have proven malicious wounding, and that charge also requires an element that he acted with the intent to maim, disfigure or kill.”

“I don’t think anybody that was there thought that was his intention at the time,” Farmer added.

The county prosecutor said Powers has had no contact with his son since the incident — a condition of his $3,500 bond. Powers’ bond further stipulates that he have no unsupervised contact with any person under age 18, that he maintain employment and is not allowed to live with his mother, the child’s paternal grandmother. Farmer said the child remained in the custody of his paternal grandmother.

Powers’ bond was modified Wednesday so that he could possibly have supervised contact with the child in the future.

“Every once in awhile these things come across your desk that just shocks the conscience,” Farmer said. “Children are the most innocent of victims, and because of that they are the most difficult cases we deal with. As dumb as it sounds, it wasn’t his intent to harm his child. But clearly he lacks parenting skills.”