Lakeland man charged with child abuse after 18-month-old suffers burns to face, head

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland man has been charged with child abuse after an 18-month-old in his care was discovered with burns.

Winter Haven Police received a call from Winter Haven Hospital Emergency Room staff in regards to a possible child abuse case on Oct. 13.

The child had suspected burns from a liquid to the upper face, forehead and left ear.

Mitchell Rich, 23, was the only person taking care of the child at a Winter Haven apartment while the mother was at work.

When the child’s grandmother arrived to pick the child up, she saw the child was red, blistering and peeling on the face and head.

Rich claimed the injuries were a reaction to a bath soap or skin cream after he gave the child a bath.

The child was taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

A doctor’s report said the injuries to the child were consistent with a liquid burn, from something scalding.

Investigators aren’t able to conclude how the child’s head came in contact with any liquid, as Rich’s story is not consistent with the medical opinion.

Detectives arrested Rich on Friday during a second interview.

He is being charged with aggravated child abuse and will be booked in the Polk County Jail.

Rich is currently on felony probation for robbery charges out of Virginia.

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