QUINCY — A Randolph man described by relatives as a “loving father” is accused of twice assaulting his 4-month-old son in a manner consistent with shaken baby syndrome, which caused head injuries so severe that the infant may be blind if he survives, a prosecutor said.
With his own father and other relatives looking on, Jaheel Robinson, 25, appeared in Quincy District Court on Monday, where he pleaded not guilty to two counts of assaulting his son on two separate occasions this month. Bail was set at $10,000 cash.
“It is not clear whether or not the baby will survive,” said Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Lisa Beatty, during Robinson’s arraignment.
On Oct. 10, Robinson and his girlfriend drove their baby to Boston Medical Center because he was vomiting. The staff also noticed the infant had an injury to his ear and wanted to take a closer look at him, Beatty said, but the child’s parents signed him out of the hospital against the medical advice of doctors.
It was not clear if the staff at Boston Medical Center, and at Children’s Hospital, where the boy was also evaluated, alerted the state Department of Children and Families after that incident. Spokeswomen at both hospitals and at the prosecutor’s office declined to comment about whether DCF was alerted, and DCF did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.
The second assault allegedly took place at the Fawn Circle, Randolph, home of Robinson’s parents, where he lives with his girlfriend and their child. The three were together Wednesday afternoon, visiting car dealerships and then relatives in Dorchester. Later, after arriving home, Robinson’s girlfriend noticed he had not come to bed as he usually did after putting their child to sleep for the night.
She went downstairs and found Robinson holding the child and quickly noticed something wrong with the baby and called 911. According to Beatty, Robinson told his girlfriend the child had fallen out of his arms and landed on the stairs after his knee, injured while playing semiprofessional football, buckled and gave way.
But Beatty said medical specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital concluded the child was a victim of shaken baby syndrome. Beatty also said that the stairs in the home were carpeted.
“After hearing that story . . . it is the medical professional’s opinion that it is an inconsistent version of events,’’ Beatty told Judge Mark S. Coven. “That is not what could have happened to this child.”
According to Beatty, the baby has been on a ventilator and a feeding tube since Thursday and has had multiple seizures. “He’s very neurologically compromised,” Beatty said. It is believed the infant is at Boston Children’s Hospital.
She said the baby has had two brain hemorrhages, separated retinas that could leave him blind for the rest of his life, and a leg fracture that according to medical authorities occurred about a week prior to the other injuries.
Robinson faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on both charges — assault and battery on a child with bodily injury and assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury.
But defense attorney Susan Rayburn said the defendant’s family stands behind him and does not believe he is capable of committing such a crime. She also said doctors have provided a much more optimistic picture of the child’s health than the version offered by the prosecution.
A man whom she identified as the defendant’s father during the arraignment spoke briefly outside the courtroom after the proceeding. “I’m sure my son did nothing wrong,” said Robinson’s father, who declined to give his name.
After he was shown a Facebook photograph of his son and 4-month-old grandson together, Robinson’s father pointed to the picture and said, “That’s a loving father, this is so wrong, he didn’t hurt him, he loves his child.”Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou.