Salem man arrested on battery charges against infant son

By: 
Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Hunter Allen, 22, Salem was arrested on multiple charges on Tuesday, Feb. 18, following reports of bruising on a child and violence in the home.

Salem Police Officer Tyler Gregory was sent to speak with a Department of Child Services case worker on Thursday, Feb. 13. She told him a woman was at a counseling meeting when someone noticed a bruise on one of her children that caused concern and reported it to the DCS. She said the woman and her husband, Hunter Allen, had a history of domestic violence.

Gregory and the case worker went to the home and were invited in by a teenage resident of the home. When the woman came into the room, holding her six-month-old, Gregory said in his report he immediately noticed the bruise on the baby’s forehead and more bruising on the baby’s face.

The woman told Gregory she had a history of Allen being abusive and had been in an on-again-off-again relationship because of it. She said the last time he had been abusive to her was about a week before, when he struck her in the face with an open hand. She said she felt like she couldn’t leave because Allen was very controlling and would follow her around the house. She said she couldn’t find a time to get away to call family or the police. She said she felt safe at the moment at the home, but would call the police if that changed.

She told Gregory she didn’t think Allen had ever abused the children, but she did work all day while he was home, so she would be unaware of anything that might happen while she was gone. She said Allen told her the baby was bruised when Allen was sleeping and had a nightmare and accidentally hit the baby in his sleep.

Allen told Gregory he had a history of abuse, but he had been taking steps to fix that aspect of his life. He said the last time he had been violent with his wife was about a year before, and nothing had happened in the past month. He said sometimes, his wife would get upset and angry and he would hold her in a bear hug until she calmed down.

Allen told Gregory that his wife was a free woman. Gregory asked if she wanted to grab her things and leave that night, would Allen allow her to, and Allen said she would go to her grandparents’ house. He said they were very controlling and “don’t let her be her own person,” and he “didn’t want that for her.” He said he wanted her to be a free person and do what she wants.

Allen repeated the account of hitting the baby during a nightmare and said it had only happened one time.

When Gregory returned to the living room of the home, he saw the case worker photographing the baby’s injuries. As they removed the infant’s clothing, Gregory said in his report he could see severe bruising around the neck of the baby and the case worker showed him a picture of a hemorrhage in the baby’s eye. Hemorrhaging in the eye and marks around the neck are common signs of strangulation.

The case worker informed Allen and his wife the children would be going to St. Vincent-Salem Hospital to be checked out for other injuries. The parents got the children dressed and went to the hospital and Gregory and the case worker followed in Gregory’s patrol vehicle.

At the hospital, Gregory spoke with Allen again. Allen said the baby likes to cuddle up to a blanket sometimes and their older son, 1 1/2, would pull the blanket. Gregory explained to Allen the marks weren’t rug burn, but bruising. Allen said sometimes the toddler would sit on the baby. Allen denied having hit the baby multiple times — just the once in his sleep.

The case worker informed Gregory the children were going to be taken to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville for further evaluation due to the severity of the injuries.

Gregory pulled the mother aside and asked if she had ever seen Allen abuse the children, and she told him she had seen Allen aggressively toss the toddler onto the bed by one arm. She described the last time Allen was violent with her as well, saying he slapped her and pushed her against the wall with his hand on her neck. When she pulled on the back of Allen’s shirt to defend herself, it left a mark, which Allen told her he would use against her if she called the police.

DCS took custodial care of the children while Allen and his wife went to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department for interviews.

The wife said Allen would aggressively spank the toddler and was usually angry when he did it. She said she noticed the bruising on the infant on Friday, Feb. 7, but didn’t ask about the bruising at the time. She told Salem Police Lieutenant Russell Wilcoxson she was “trying so hard to stay with” Allen, but that she didn’t feel safe. Officers escorted her back home to collect her things and help her get somewhere safe.

Allen was waiting in the lobby while Wilcoxson was speaking with his wife, and when she came out to ask for the keys to the car, which was in her grandmother’s name, he initially refused and had to be asked by police to do so.

Gregory said Allen took a “very defensive stance” in his seat and seemed nervous during his interview. He repeated he had accidentally punched the six-month-old in the head, and said the bruising found around the neck was from the toddler sitting on or pulling a blanket away from the baby.

Allen said he knew he had an anger problem, but claimed he was “in control of it.”

After almost an hour of questioning, Allen said the bruising on the infant’s neck was from him trying to quiet the baby, saying “just so he would be quiet, I held his mouth shut,” and “till he passed out.” He said he “‘grabbed him by the mouth again, this time more towards the throat, pushing the upper collar,’ referring to how he acted when [the baby] would cry when [Allen] tried to nap,” read Gregory’s report.

Allen was then allowed to go home, but a warrant was eventually issued for his arrest. He was charged with battery resulting in bodily injury to a person under the age of 14, domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury and strangulation.

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