17 Month Old Child Abused; Police Arrest Father, Girlfriend

Two people are in jail, charged with child abuse against a seventeen month old baby boy. Police have arrested the boy's father and his live-in girlfriend, and the child should survive, but only after he suffered several beatings.

It appears no one knew of the abuse until Jake Ducote and his girlfriend, Tiffany Taunton, brought the baby to Jackson Hospital's emergency room. They told medics he had fallen through a window in a french door. But then doctors realized something else.

"It appears to not have been an isolated incident. All of the injuries do not appear to have occurred on the same day," said police Captain Huey Thornton.

A police report indicates the abuse began as early as October 1st but investigators have no real idea how far back it goes. One thing is certain - the boy suffered severe pain.

"He had multiple fractures to his head, fractures on both sides of the head as well as the back of the head, the child also had bruising to the face in the area of the chin," Thornton said.

After the doctors confirmed the baby's injuries plus blood vessels ruptures in his eyes, officers questioned Ducote and Taunton seperately. At first the pair told investigators the same story they told doctors. But then the truth behind the beatings came out.

"The child was assaulted by the father as a form of discipline for not eating," said Thornton.

The baby remains in treatment at a Birmingham hospital.

When doctors release him, the state will take custody while officials see if any other family members can take him.  That could include the natural mother, aunts or uncles or even grandparents.

If no one qualifes, he could end up in foster care.

Jake Ducote and Tiffany Taunton are in jail awaiting bond. If a jury convicts them on the child abuse charge they could get from one to ten years in prison.