Babysitter charged with child abuse

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jan 31, 2013

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Police have charged a Chesterfield babysitter with felony child abuse. Twenty-five year old Ashley Pigg is also charged with malicious wounding, according to an email from Chesterfield Police.

Police said Pigg shook a two-month-old boy she was babysitting at her Hartford Lane home earlier this week. The child's parents took their son to the hospital. He was then transferred to VCU Medical Center due to the seriousness of his injuries, police said.

Lt. Randy Horowitz tells CBS 6 News that they were contacted on Monday by hospital staffers at Chippenham Hospital. 

They explained to CBS 6 News that Pigg gave two different accounts of what happened. "Originally she had told the family she fell down with the child in her arms. The injuries were not consistent with that story. After being interviewed by detectives she told us she became frustrated with the child,took him out of his swing and shook the child" Horowitz said.

Prosecutor Duncan Minton told a judge during Pigg's bond hearing Thursday afternoon

Ashley Pigg (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

Ashley Pigg (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

that the infant's injuries are comparable to ones sustained in a violent car crash. He explained to the judge that the two month old had bruising and bleeding on the brain and hemmoraging of the eye.

Minton also told the judge that after Pigg told police about shaking the baby, she expressed remorse and even wrote a statement of remorse. The judge ultimately granted Pigg bond but had some harsh words for her.

"This is awful. If you did what they say you did, then you took a completely defenseless child and may have injured him in a way he can never recover" Judge Rigler said.

The judge, expressed concern that Pigg would be home around her own infant, the same age as the baby she's charged with abusing. Pigg's attorney assured the judge that the babysitter's husband and in-laws agreed to make sure she is never alone with her infant.

The judge put some stipulations in place for Pigg to follow until her case is heard in court. She is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with any child under the age of twelve, including her own baby. Pigg must also not be responsible for the care or custody of any child, regardless of their age.

The judge also told the babysitter she must undergo drug and alcohol screenings. Her attorney told the judge Pigg has never once had a run in with the law. Police tell CBS 6 News she even worked in a daycare center before.

Pigg's husband of three and a half years, her in-laws and their church pastor attended her Thursday afternoon bond hearing. They left without commenting on the case.

The baby boy who is recovering at VCU Medical center is listed in stable condition.

We spoke with a child advocate at the Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now. Angela Swanson tells us Shaken Baby Syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the United States.

"It typically affects children under the age of 2. Newborns to 2 months are at greatest risk. The main cause is crying inconsolably. Typically the crying peaks for newborns at this age. The frustration is the most common reason for abuse. Nothing is working and the crying continues and caregivers just don't know what to do" Swanson explained.

She says the best  thing a caregiver can do to keep from crossing the line when frustration sets in, is to step away from the situation.

"Do not shake a baby. Do not hold a baby during an argument. Put the baby in a crib, a stroller, leave the room. You can play some music, find ways to relax. Try to soothe yourself so you can go back in and handle the situation" Swanson advised.

She also says caregivers can turn to agencies like Greater Richmond S.C.A.N. for help.

"When babies are injured like this, these things are often not reversible. 1 in 4 children in our country  die from this because it is such a severe injury, so prevention really is the key" Swanson said.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now at 804-257-7226.