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Dec 18, 2023

Auburndale man arrested for aggravated child abuse after shaking baby

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, Administrator

An Auburndale man was arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit detectives on Friday, December 15, 2023, and charged with aggravated child abuse, a first degree felony, after he admitted that he shook a two-month-old baby he had access to until the infant suffered from significant head injuries.

The investigation began on December 14th when the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center ER staff regarding an injured infant. The baby’s external and visible injury was slight bruising above one eye, but an exam and X-ray revealed hemorrhages to the brain, a slight skull fracture, and a .5 cm midline shift of the brain. According to medical staff the baby should make a full recovery.

Damian TraftonDuring an interview with the suspect, Damian Trafton, DOB 3/28/2003, who was watching the baby that day, he first stated that the baby was acting fussy and would not stop crying, so he placed the baby in a bouncy seat, which usually soothes the baby. When that didn’t work, Damian told detectives he bounced the bouncy seat at a harder pace than normal, causing the infant’s head to move side-to-side. During subsequent interviews, Damian admitted that he had actually placed the baby’s on its back and lifted its legs to try to ease gas pain, which didn’t appear to be working. Damian said he became increasingly frustrated with the baby and started aggressively moving the baby’s legs back and forth for approximately 2-3 minutes, causing the baby’s breathing to become abnormal, at which point he called the baby’s mother, who contacted emergency services.

Damian’s criminal history includes prior arrests for vehicle burglary, driving with a suspended license, and probation violation.

There are so many resources out there for parents and caregivers to help them cope with a newborn or child – but the easiest step to take when you get upset or frustrated with a baby, is to place them somewhere safe and walk away for a few minutes until you are calm enough to calm the baby. Babies are our most innocent and defenseless victims and it is everyone’s responsibility to keep them healthy and safe.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff