A Lakewood man was in jail Thursday, charged with allegedly holding his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son under water as a form of discipline.
The 32-year-old man pleaded not guilty to second-degree child abuse during his arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court.
Charging papers filed by prosecutors give this account:
The man took the boy to a park, where he met another man who was out with his family.
The two men swapped phone numbers, and the 32-year-old invited his new friend to his apartment Wednesday for drinks.
The 32-year-old man and the boy were the only ones home when the guest arrived. The guest reported the host already had been drinking.
At some point, the host told his guest the only way he could “get through” to the child was by holding the boy’s head under water.
He later helped the boy in the bathroom, and the child emerged with a soaking wet, dark-red face, the guest told authorities.
The host allegedly later covered the boy’s face with a blanket, picked him up by the head and threw him on the couch.
He then allegedly swung the child back and forth by a leg and an arm and said: “Do you want to fly or swim? I think you want to swim.”
The host then allegedly filled the kitchen sink and held the boy’s head under water for 10 to 15 seconds — then did it again.
The guest told the man to stop and later called 911.
He told dispatchers the man “had intentionally held a 4-year-old child’s head under scalding hot water,” deputy prosecutor Erica Eggertsen wrote in the declaration for determination of probable cause.
Police arrived and saw the boy had red dots across his face, but they couldn’t tell whether they were from hot water or were normal for the child.
The 32-year-old man denied the abuse allegations and told police he hadn’t had anyone over to the apartment, the declaration states.
Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $100,000.