Gainesville man arrested, accused of abusing infant

Published: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 27, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

A Gainesville man was arrested on a child cruelty charge Friday afternoon after his 3-week-old son was found by staff at UF Health Shands Hospital to have bleeding on the brain and other serious injuries, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office reported.

Austin P. Dionne, 22, of 1913 SW 89th Drive, was charged with aggravated child abuse.

The baby was taken to Shands on Sept. 19. The baby was put in the neonatal intensive care unit and found to have bleeding on the brain, abdominal bruising and other injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, ASO reported.

Authorities say the child will recover.

Dionne's arrest report states that on Sept. 19 he was caring for the infant and his 10-month-old child while his wife was at work. At about 9:06 p.m. he called his wife to tell her that something happened to the baby, and she told him to call 911.

Dionne told 911 that the baby fell out of a rocking chair and was unconscious. ASO began investigating the next day.

The report states that Dionne initially told investigators that he inadvertently kicked over the child's chair when he was attempting to kick a pet cat, believing the cat was nipping at the child's feet.

Dionne told deputies the chair flew in the air and landed on the child, and that he unstrapped the child and shook him to keep him from losing consciousness.

That account was inconsistent with the findings of a medical report, ASO reported.

Dionne met again with investigators on Friday and confessed to causing the injuries. The report states Dionne told deputies he was playing on his Xbox and became frustrated by the baby's crying.

He kicked the seat, causing the baby to cry louder, deputies reported. Dionne then picked up the seat and slammed it multiple times to the floor with the boy strapped inside, the report states. He then flipped the chair over, causing the child to land on his head, the report states.

Believing he may have killed him, Dionne told deputies he shook the boy aggressively to keep him from losing consciousness, the report states, adding Dionne admitted to making up the story about the cat.

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