The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office plans to formally file additional charges against three people accused of having a role on what police described as the ‘savage’ and ‘sadistic’ beating of a two-year-old boy, according to Prosecutor Nick Hermann. The two-year-old boy had extensive injuries, including bruising from his head to his chest, a black eye and swollen lip, police said. Authorities also allege the three suspects failed to report the abuse for four days.
Keith Crotti, 24, has been charged with felony aggravated battery causing the impairment of a bodily function; one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury; five counts of neglect of a dependent and two counts of misdemeanor interfering with the reporting of a crime.
The child’s biological mother, 33-year-old April Goodman, has been charged with felony neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury and five counts of neglect of a dependent, all felonies. The child’s biological father, 29-year-old Joshua Kuhlenschmidt, has been charged with four felony counts of neglect of a dependent.
On Tuesday, a Vanderburgh County judge dismissed the previous charges against Kuhlenschmidt, citing a lack of probable cause. However, prosecutors have now opted to file different charges.
On Sunday, May 30th, officers were dispatched to the apartment complex located at 2511 North Kentucky Ave for a child welfare check. Officers reported finding a two-year-old boy with numerous injuries, including a black eye, swollen lip and bruising from his head down to his chest.
While police were at the apartment on Sunday, the child’s biological father arrived at the apartment complex. Based on witness accounts, police concluded that he had been at the apartment numerous times and saw the child’s injuries but failed to report the abuse.
As Eyewitness News first reported, Crotti’s mother, Belinda Campbell, placed the 911 call that led to her son’s arrest. For Campbell, doing what was right was far more important than protecting her son, despite the grief it continues to give her.
“It’s not any easier today than it was yesterday, believe that,” Campbell said. “There were people here that knew about the situation and didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t hesitate and unfortunately, it was my son who did it.”
The case, which has prompted a visceral reaction from within the apartment complex at 2511 North Kentucky Ave as well as social media. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann understands it but, unfortunately, cases of child abuse happen all too often, he said.
“Some of these cases that go viral like the Cincinnati Zoo incident, everybody is talking about it. Everyone is on Facebook talking about it,” Hermann said. “But here you have an instance where a young child was severely beaten and injured and didn’t get medical attention for several days. I think it’s important for people to realize that this goes on in our community.
We get cases like this on a regular basis. They don’t get a lot of press.”
A prevailing factor in many child abuse cases is drug use, especially methamphetamine which continues to have a stranglehold over Southwestern Indiana. Many cite the use of methamphetamine and heroin as the reasons why the number of CHINS, or child in need of services, cases climbed from 16,000 in 2014 to 20,000 in 2015, according to Child Protective Services statistics. Additionally, the Indiana Youth Institute reports 24.3 chidden per 1000 children were abused in Vanderburgh County in 2015.
“When you use your substance as an excuse, ‘oh I was drunk; I was high; I had been injecting drugs in my veins and I don’t remember doing this;’ to me, that’s not a mitigator. That’s an aggravator,” Hermann said. “The fact that you had committed a crime prior to committing another crime, that should enhance the penalty, enhance the sentence.”
Campbell said she plans on visiting her son at the county jail in the coming days. While the decision to call 911 wasn’t an easy one to make, she has no regrets, she said.
“They don’t ask to be born. They’re miracles from God. They don’t deserve that,” Campbell said.