Sunday, June 17, 2012

Charges dropped in toddler assault case

By Nicole Montesano
Of the News-Register

Charges against a McMinnville man accused of fracturing a toddler's skull were dropped on Thursday, after a grand jury declined to indict him.
Nicholas Ryan Bates, 25, had been charged in May with third-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment, after his girlfriend's 2-year-old son was found to have suffered a fractured skull and collarbone.
Grand jury proceedings are secret by law; not even the defendant is allowed to be present. During the proceedings, the jury receives evidence favorable to the prosecution; no defense is presented. It then determines whether it believes that the evidence, if unexplained or contradicted at trial, would support a conviction. If so, it determines which charges are supported.
Defendants are informed of the outcome at a court hearing, when they are either formally advised of the charges against them, or the charges are officially dismissed.
Prosecutor May Chou said, that "at this point, I do not expect to" file any additional charges in the case. She declined further comment.
The case came to light in mid-May, when the toddler's mother, 22-year-old Felicia Megan Manley, took him to the hospital emergency room.
According to the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office, she told investigators that she and the child had been at Bates' home when she stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, and returned inside, to find the child had a small amount of blood on his mouth, as if he had bitten his tongue. The next day, the toddler was unresponsive and acted as if his arm hurt, so she took him to the hospital, where doctors discovered the injuries, and notified police. She told investigators she did not know how the toddler had been injured.
Bates said that he is no longer with Manley.
He said he does not know how or when the child was injured.
"We were not being good parents, that's all I can say. ... We were just having a bonfire, everyone was drinking, no one was paying attention."
The situation continues to be a painful one, he said, because he feels his reputation has been permanently damaged.
"I wish there was any way to fix that, but the damage has already been done. I don't know if anybody is ever going to believe me," he said. "I'm not a child beater. ... I'm just pretty upset about the whole situation."