On December 28, Clifton Haugen called 911 to report that his four-month-old son was unresponsive and having difficulty breathing, according to documents filed today in King County Superior Court that charge Haugen with assault. Doctors at Valley Medical Center told police that the baby was suffering from a bilateral subdural hemotoma—a hemorrhage associated with baby shaking—and "numerous rib fractures," both new and old. "Based on information available to me at this time," a doctor examining the infant stated in her report to police, "these multiple injuries of different ages are diagnostic of child abuse."
Prosecutors are charging Haugen—who has prior convictions of assault (one reduced from rape), stalking, burglary, and domestic violence—with first degree child assault. Due to the prior convictions, Haugen could face a sentence of nine to 12 years in prison if found guilty, says county prosecutor spokesman Dan Donohoe.
But Haugen denies the accusations. According to court records, Haugen told his wife that "while walking up the stairs the previous morning he missed a step. He fell on top of [the boy] and then rolled down the entire flight of stairs. He told her that the boy stopped breathing and he performed CPR to bring him back to life.
However, the baby's "injuries, especially the older ones, are not explained by a fall," according to charging documents. If the boy survives, court documents say he will most likely be blind and suffer long-term effects from the brain injury.