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Austin man pleads guilty to malicious punishment of child

An Austin man who allegedly injured his ex-girlfriend's 2-year-old son pleaded guilty Monday in Mower County District Court.

Benjamin Isaiah Waidler Stayton, 23, had been charged in February with malicious punishment of a child under age 4, a felony.

According to the criminal complaint, Austin police were called to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin about 10 p.m. Jan. 1 on a report of suspected child abuse. Hospital staff members told police that the boy had unusual bruising inside his ears.

The child's grandmother discovered the injuries that evening, the report says, and told his mother about them. The mother believed the injuries had to have happened after 10 a.m. Dec. 30, the last time she'd bathed the child and cleaned his ears.

According to the complaint, the victim had dark blue/purple bruises on the top inside of his ears. In addition, the officer saw a bump on the boy's forehead and one on the back of his head.


During the investigation, detectives learned Stayton had watched the child for about an hour-and-a-half on New Year's Eve, while the mother ran an errand. Also at the home was Stayton's 5-year-old child.

The child's mother said she was going to police with her suspicions that Stayton was responsible for the injuries. That's when Stayton told her he was thinking about what might have happened and remembered that he was "chasing" the victim around the kitchen table, picked the child up, then slipped on a coloring book.

According to the complaint, Stayton said he fell, which caused the victim's head to hit the wall and Stayton's head to hit the victim's head.

His sentencing has been set for Nov. 30.

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