Telford parents arrested for shaking baby, causes brain to shift - WFLA News Channel 8

Telford parents arrested for shaking baby, causing brain to shift 2 1/2 centimeters

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Charlotte Whitaker (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office) Charlotte Whitaker (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office)
Joe Whitaker (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office) Joe Whitaker (Source: Washington County Sheriff's Office)

Two parents are charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect after investigators say they shook their seven-month-old baby to the point the child's brain shifted two-and-a-half centimeters and the boy now has vision problems.

Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Charlotte Irene Whitaker and Joe Franklin Whitaker of Telford earlier this month after a grand jury indicted the pair.

Investigator Jared Taylor says officers responded to a local hospital on August 15th where they learned the couple's baby boy had bilateral retina damage and a brain hemorrhage.

"Those two things are a serious indication of Shaken Baby Syndrome," Taylor said.

The boy had to be airlifted to UT Medical Center in Knoxville where a full skeletal scan found two additional bone breaks in his right leg, Taylor said.

"That's a third indicator of Shaken Baby Syndrome," Taylor said. "That was determined to be the result of a second instance, the last being life-threatening."

In addition to the child's injuries, Taylor says the boy was also diagnosed with malnourishment since he only weighed a little more than 15 pounds.

The child is now in state custody and Child Protective Services is involved, Taylor said.

"He still has vision problems. They're not sure if he's going to be blind or have some amount of blindness and they don't know what kind of life he's going to live because of the brain hemorrhage. The swelling actually shifted his brain two-and-a-half centimeters."

Taylor says both Charlotte and Joe each have nine-year-old kids from previous relationships. Taylor says those kids are now in the care of their other parents.

Taylor says Joe is a stay-at-home dad while Charlotte works an eight-to-five job. Both were released on $10,000 bond.

Taylor says he expects this case to go to trial, because the parents say they don't know what could have injured the child.

"They say they have no idea what could have caused his injuries," Taylor said.

Through a Facebook message Joe Whitaker told us he and his wife will be telling their side of the story once they can. However, at the advice of their attorney he said they cannot comment at this time.

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