Syracuse Woman Arrested On Neglect And Battery Charges After Child Injured

Blair Marie Johnson

A Syracuse woman was arrested Wednesday after allegedly abusing a child in April.

Blair Marie Johnson, 26, of 203 E. Chicago St., Syracuse, is charged with neglect of a dependent, a Level 5 felony; and battery to a person less than 14 years of age by a person at least 18 years of age, a Level 5 felony.

She was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail at 7:58 p.m. Wednesday with a $10,250 preliminary bond.

According to the probable cause affidavit, on April 21 a Syracuse police officer responded to a report of physical abuse of a child at Kosciusko Community Hospital.

The officer spoke to a woman who said the victim had been at the babysitter’s during the day. The woman said, earlier that day, she received a message from the babysitter, identified as Johnson, saying an incident happened where the family dog stepped on the victim. Johnson said the victim said it didn’t hurt, but did scare the child.

Johnson responded to a message if the victim was scratched up by saying the victim was scratched and Johnson had rubbed the victim’s back until falling back to sleep. Johnson also said the dog injured the victim’s eye.

The woman said when she picked up the victim from Johnson’s residence, the woman noticed injuries to the victim that were more extensive than just a scratch, according to court documents.

While the woman was picking up the victim, Johnson told her she could no longer watch the children for the woman, referencing a comment made by another child.

The woman confronted Johnson about the victim’s injuries and how it was more than “just a scratch.” The woman asked Johnson why she didn’t call the woman if the injuries were worse than what Johnson said. Johnson said, “Oh, it just started to get this bad,” according to court documents.

At the hospital, the officer documented a black and blue bruise to the victim’s right eye, which appeared to be swollen shut. Medical personnel told the officer the victim had bleeding behind the eye. The bruising appeared to continue around the right side of the victim’s head, passing the right ear. Swelling and bruising were observed behind the right ear, as well as inside the right ear, according to court documents.

The officer also documented bruises to the base of the neck, the back, legs, arms and genitals. The woman said the injuries were not there when she dropped off the victim at Johnson’s residence.

The woman asked the victim what happened, and the victim said he didn’t know.

On April 23, the officer and a Milford deputy marshal spoke with Johnson, who said she was babysitting the victim on April 21.

Johnson initially described the incident as the family dog jumping on the victim when Johnson’s husband forgot his key and knocked on the door to get into the residence. Johnson described the injury as starting as a small scratch to the eye. She also said the victim didn’t cry after the incident and Johnson sat up with the victim watching videos until the child eventually fell asleep. Johnson said when they woke up in the morning, they could see how bad the injury was and it covered the victim’s face.

Johnson said several times the dog trampled the victim’s face. Officers stated they didn’t believe Johnson’s explanation. Johnson agreed by saying the dog caused a little bit of it, but not all.

When asked about the injuries to the victim’s genitals, Johnson said it must have been caused by the dog’s nails. When the deputy marshal said he didn’t know how the injury could be caused by the dog’s nails, Johnson allegedly said, “I guess maybe me, when I was changing his diaper. I don’t see how. I don’t see how. I really don’t. He fights me.”

Johnson, throughout talking with officers, said the injuries were caused by the dog. The deputy marshal said earlier in the conversation, Johnson agreed the dog didn’t cause all the damage. Johnson then allegedly said she thought she tripped over the victim and kicked him.

The Department of Child Services requested a child abuse pediatrics consult from Riley Hospital Indianapolis, where a doctor reviewed the case and found blunt force impact to the child’s head that caused the injuries would have been forceful or violent, according to court documents.