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4-year-old critical after dad allegedly hits him

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — A 4-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition Monday after his father allegedly punched him in the head.

Tony A. Young, 24, of Brooklyn Park was charged with first-degree assault. According to the criminal complaint filed Monday in Hennepin County District Court, Young told police he was trying to discipline his son last week by punching him in the chest after making him squat with his arms straight out.

The complaint said Young told police that the boy, Tony Jr., lost his balance and Young accidentally hit him in the head.

By the time the boy was taken to the hospital two days later, Young couldn’t wake him and his brain was swelling.

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"This kind of child abuse is sickening," said County Attorney Mike Freeman. "The boy had previous fractured ribs and was hit viciously on the head. He may die."

Young’s mother, Rosetta Pratt, of St. Louis, said Young denied hitting the boy, saying Tony Jr. fell from a dresser.

"I don’t think Tony would hurt his child," she said. "I believe that with all my heart."

The criminal complaint said Young told police the boy was inactive Wednesday and slept all day Thursday. The child was taken to the hospital on Thursday evening.

Doctors performed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, and also found Tony Jr. had four healing rib fractures. Investigators found a child protection investigation had been opened in Oklahoma in March after the boy sustained a cut on his head — but the case stalled after Young and his son disappeared.

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