Wardsboro man pleads not guilty to assault, cruelty to child

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BRATTLEBORO — A Wardsboro man pleaded not guilty to assault and child-cruelty charges.

Shawn Howard, 48, was arraigned at Windham Superior Criminal Division on Feb. 24. He was released on conditions prohibiting him from speaking with, harassing or being within 300 feet of the victim or their residence.

Howard is being charged with three felonies which include first-degree aggravated assault, second-degree aggravated domestic assault with a prior conviction and cruelty to a child with serious bodily injury. He is also facing a misdemeanor charge for reckless endangerment.

According to an affidavit, Vermont State Police were investigating a child abuse case stemming from a report from school officials stating the victim had come to school with extensive bruising on both legs, below the knees, and both feet. The victim claimed the bruises were from a skiing accident. Cuts and abrasions on the victim's body also were discovered after the state's Department of Children and Families took custody of the victim.

"These injuries, as a whole, are very concerning for the likelihood of non-accidental trauma or child physical abuse," a nurse wrote to the department. "The injuries in their entirety are not consistent with a skiing accident."

According to police, the victim later admitted not all the injuries were the result of a skiing accident and that Howard had been "very angry" and stepped on the victim's feet and back with steel-toed boots. The victim's limp allegedly came after suffering a kick from Howard. Also reported was a punch to the victim's head, causing the victim to bleed during an incident in which the victim was made to go out in the snow barefoot. Howard allegedly shoveled snow on top of the victim. When back indoors, the victim said Howard sprayed ice cold water at him then the victim was made to go back outdoors soaking wet in only a wet t-shirt and shorts. When the victim came back inside and tripped, Howard allegedly punched him in the back of the head.

Another incident involved the victim being made to lie down in a frozen stream while Howard kicked snow onto him, according to the affidavit. Once back inside, Howard poked the victim in the stomach with a broom handle "so hard that the broom handle broke" and the broom was then used to hit the victim on the head. Also, Howard was accused of choking the victim with the end of a blanket.

Howard was previously convicted of a misdemeanor domestic assault charge in January 2007.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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