Tuesday, January 03, 2017 - Updated: 1:12 PM
By Rachel Keller
The couple arrested and charged with criminal abuse of their 1-year-old child shortly before Christmas pleaded not guilty in Marshall District Court last week.
According to citations by investigating officers with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, employees at J’s Steakhouse in Draffenville contacted police concerning bruises on the young boy. The officers arrived at approximately 8:50 p.m. on Dec. 23 as 30-year-old Jennifer Roper and 31-year-old Joshua Roper were leaving with their 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.
The officers reported immediately noticing “significant bruises” and upon further investigation located bruises on the boy’s face and head, stomach, both arms and legs, the middle of the lower back and behind both his ears. Officers also reported identifying bite marks on both the child’s legs. In addition to noting the injuries, officers also took photographs.
When asked to explain the bruising on the boy, the parents allegedly blamed daycare, his older sister throwing toys at him and the boy “being clumsy and falling off the couch at home.” But according to the report, officers called in child protective services (CPS) for a second opinion and after viewing the injuries and the photographs of the injuries, the social worker advised the boy needed emergency medical treatment.
Jennifer, the mother of the child, was arrested at the scene and lodged in the Marshall County Detention Center Dec. 23 at approximately 10 p.m. for a ‘failure to appear’ bench warrant out of Calloway County. Officers reported she agreed to a drug screen at the detention center and tested positive for Buprenorphine and Benzodiazepine.
The child was taken to the emergency room at Marshall County Hospital where Dr. Robert Beale reportedly located the bruises that were at different stages of healing. When Beale asked Joshua, the child’s father, what happened to the child to cause the injuries, he allegedly told the doctor the boy had fallen off the couch earlier in the week, had been hit by his elder sister with toys and had fallen down.
“Dr. Beale stated that the injuries he saw were not consistent with Joshua’s story and were caused by abuse,” the citation reads. “Dr. Beale stated that he did not feel comfortable letting the children go home with Joshua.”
When social workers with CPS arrived at the hospital and spoke with Joshua, he allegedly stated he had returned to work earlier in the week, leaving both children at home with Jennifer, their mother, and reported “no one else was around them that week.” It was at that point, according to the citation, social workers “made the decision to remove the children from the home for their safety and well being.”
Joshua was arrested in the emergency room and lodged in the Marshall County Detention Center Dec. 24 at approximately 1 a.m.
The pair is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 4 at 1 p.m.