AUBURN — A teenager has been charged with child abuse after a social worker reported that he had injured his 11-month-old cousin, causing skull and spinal fractures, authorities said Sunday.
Christian M. McFadden, 18, was arrested Friday and charged with assault and battery on a child with injury, Auburn Police Chief Andrew J. Sluckis Jr. said.
A hospital examination of the girl, including an X-ray and a CAT scan, showed two skull fractures, two compression back fractures, and hemorrhaging in both eyes, Sluckis said in a phone interview.
He said the 11-month-old also had two partially healed fractures in one arm, apparent evidence of past abuse.
The state Department of Children and Families is investigating the allegations and has taken custody of the baby and three other children living at the address, DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said in an e-mail.
Sluckis said the other children were 3, 8, and 13, and that police found no evidence that they had been abused. He was unsure of McFadden’s relationship to the other children. The large household also included several adult family members, he said.
McFadden is being held on $5,000 bail, Sluckis said, and will be arraigned Tuesday in Worcester Central District Court.
The Worcester district attorney’s office asked Auburn police to arrest McFadden after a social worker reported the alleged abuse, Tim Connolly, spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., said in a phone interview.
On Hill Street in Auburn, the home of McFadden and the family lies far from the road, with few other houses nearby.
A dog barked loudly at a reporter’s knock Sunday morning, but no one came to the door.
There was also no answer at a phone number belonging to the apparent homeowner.
Doreen M. Goodrich, chairwoman of the town’s Board of Selectman, lives just five houses down Hill Street from the family, which she described as “fairly new to the neighborhood and not really known well at all.”
Goodrich, 55, said in a phone interview that she had recently seen several youngsters shoveling snow in the home’s long driveway and was surprised to see such young children doing the work, but she and other Hill Street residents had little awareness of what went on within the household.
“Neighbors wouldn’t see whether they had a swing set in the yard or a dog; you just wouldn’t know because of how far back the house is set,” she said. “There were no indications in the neighborhood that a tragedy like this would occur.”
She said she had received many calls and text messages from local residents concerned about the child and had spoken with Sluckis about the investigation. She expressed confidence in local police.
“All appropriate action has been taken, and it is an ongoing investigation,” she said.
Other neighbors also said they did not know the family. One expressed shock at the alleged abuse.
“It’s horrible,” said Sean Goodrich, 24, who is Doreen Goodrich’s son and lives across the street from his parents. “I’ve been here for 13 years, and nothing like this has ever happened.”
Patrick Dahlgren, president of nearby Property Pro Construction, said he had seen an elementary school-age child and a preteen outside the home but not the baby.
“I don’t know them really. I never even knew they had a baby,” he said. “I just see kids waiting for the bus down there.”
Robert D. Grossman, vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he was not previously aware of McFadden or the family but was horrified to learn of the crime through media reports while traveling in Connecticut.
“It’s shocking,” said Grossman, 74, an Auburn resident for nearly half a century.
“It needs to be tended to and taken care of, and to get to the bottom of what actually took place and why. It’s inexcusable to do something like this to a young child.”Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at email@example.com.