A 32-year-old Burlington man is facing charges he choked a 3-year-old boy and burned the child’s skin near his right eye with a hot clothing iron.
According to a nine-page police affidavit on file at Vermont District Court in Burlington, Manuel C. Francis allegedly attempted to strangle and burn the child on Dec. 3 at the Burlington home of Francis and his wife. Francis is not the child’s father.
Francis, who was initially arraigned in December on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge in connection with the case, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 10 on three new charges: felony domestic aggravated domestic assault and two misdemeanor charges of cruelty to a child.
Francis, who has a lengthy criminal record, is being held on an unrelated charge at the Northern State Correctional Center in Newport while awaiting his arraignment.
Burlington police Sgt. Arthur Cyr, director of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, said Tuesday the child’s injuries did not require him to be admitted to Fletcher Allen Health Care but by their nature were life threatening.
Police said they were first alerted to the alleged abuse on Dec. 4, when a relative of the child called police and said a day-care provider had discovered marks on the boy after he was dropped off at the day-care center that day.
“(The boy) had petichial hemorrhaging on his throat, which looked like several scratch marks and a red mark on the right side of his neck,” the affidavit said. “(The boy) also had a one- to one-and-a-half-inch red mark consistent with a burn on the right side of his temple near his right eye.”
Other bruises were found on the boy’s chin, neck, right thigh, upper back and lower back, the affidavit said. When a police officer touched the bruises on the child’s lower back, the child “winced in pain.”
In subsequent police interviews, the child’s mother contended that Francis had stayed up late the night of Dec. 3 and, when he came to bed, told her that he had changed the child’s diaper and put him back to bed.
In the morning, she noticed the red marks on her son’s body and asked Francis about them. According to the police affidavit, she said Francis told him he did not know what caused them. She told police that Francis had anger issues and had been abusive in the past
The affidavit also related stories from family relatives and acquaintances who said Francis had spoken about how he disliked the boy and had “smashed him in the head and knocked him unconscious” but had later told them he was joking and did not harm the child.
Several days after the incident, the child’s mother said her son told her that Francis had used a clothing iron to burn him and that she had then discovered that one of her irons was missing.
The iron was later found hidden behind a closet door in the home by the mother and police. Cyr said Tuesday that state police forensic laboratory’s examination of the iron was ongoing.
Francis was on parole following convictions on domestic abuse and two felony possession of stolen property charges.
He also has past convictions for false pretenses, driving under the influence, giving false information to a police officer, simple assault, passing a bad check, escape, burglary, disorderly conduct, unlawful mischief and petty larceny, according to court records.