GREAT FALLS — Charles Connor Clark of Wolf Point, accused of injuring an infant on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, pleaded guilty in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday.
Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release that Clark pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury as charged in a superseding information.
Prosecutors allege that in November 2017, the FBI was notified that an infant, identified as John Doe, had been flown from Wolf Point to a hospital in Billings. The child appeared to have suffered life-threatening, non-accidental injuries.
Court documents state the child had a sub-chronic hematoma, or a brain bleed that can be caused by shaking, and the injuries were described as acute and chronic.
The mother was interviewed and said that on November 28, she left the baby in the care of Clark when she left home to get gas. Clark was feeding the baby when she returned, and about five minutes later she saw Clark with vomit all over him. Clark told her that the baby had vomited and that he was trying to burp him. Clark said that he could not hear the baby breathing. Clark told told the mother the baby had "choked on his puke."
From court documents:
Agents spoke with John Doe’s doctor at St. Vincent Hospital in Billings on December 15, 2017, where John Doe was being treated in the pediatric unit. They advised that the injuries included extensive bilateral hemorrhages in both eyes, multiple subdural hematomas in the frontal lobe of the brain, rendering him blind and deaf, and a buckle fracture on the leg. The doctor informed agents that John Doe’s injuries are classic signs of physical abuse.
John Doe remains in social services custody due to the severity of his injuries. To date, John Doe has not made any developmental progress since his injury, and it is not believed that he will ever progress beyond his current condition.
Clark, 27 years old, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided, and set sentencing for June 16. Clark remains in custody pending further proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and Fort Peck Tribal Law Enforcement.