Buckland man arrested, arraigned, charged with child strangulation

Published: 12/28/2018 12:48:32 PM

BUCKLAND — A four-year-old has been placed in state custody after showing up to school with signs of having been strangled.

When asked about the marks around his eyes and cheeks, the boy said, “I do not feel safe at my dad’s,” and, “He covered my mouth, and I couldn’t breathe.”

Mark Brown, 39, of Buckland, was subsequently arrested and charged with with assault and battery on a child with substantial injury, reckless endangerment of a child and strangulation or suffocation causing serious bodily injury.

According to court documents, state police were called to Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School on Dec. 20 to speak with an investigator and social worker from the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families about a child with petechial hemorrhaging around his eyes and cheeks — a condition caused by smothering or strangulation.

Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School Principal Joanne Giguere had reported the alleged abuse after the boy’s mother’s ex-husband told the school the boy stated his father, Brown, “covered his mouth and nose with one hand and used his other hand to hold his hands down.”

The preschooler also told DCF and state police he was scared and could not breath, that his father has been “so mean” and punishes him for no reason.

The boy said no one else was with him when his father “put his hand over my face” in the child’s bedroom with the door closed, and that his father has done such “a whole bunch of times.”

According to the police narrative written by Trooper Gary A. Darling, the school was particularly concerned due to past DCF involvement with the child. A doctor from the UMass-Memorial Medical Center in Worcester said petechial hemorrhaging on the child’s eyes, forehead, ears and top of cheekbones were indicators of physical abuse, specifically suffocation or strangulation.

Brown was arrested at his Clement Street home in Buckland the following day, and was arraigned on Dec. 24. He was given $1,000 cash bail with special conditions and is due back in court on Jan. 24.

Strangulation has only been a chargeable offense in Massachusetts since 2014, when Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill created new criminal charges related to domestic violence.

Prior to the bill’s passage, suffocation or strangulation fell under the charge of simple assault and battery, a misdemeanor, unless the defendant was charged with attempted murder.

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