Baby Faith placed with new family

Baby Faith with her mother, Christine Johnson

 

Baby Faith Mason captured the attention and the hearts of Southeast Texans after it was revealed in August of this year that the one-month-old victim of traumatic child abuse had suffered a total of 19 fractures during her brief life. Now, after months of healing, she is recovering and safe in the arms of a loving foster family, reports Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) spokesperson Shari Pulliam.

Shortly after midnight Aug. 18, a severely injured Baby Faith was brought into the emergency room of Christus St. Mary’s Hospital at 3600 Gates Boulevard in Port Arthur. Port Arthur Police reported she had life-threatening injuries “indicative of abuse.”

The full extent of her injuries was appalling. In an interview with The Examiner just after the incident, Pulliam said the child suffered from two broken arms, two broken legs, a broken neck, a dislocated shoulder, a black eye and a “severe brain-bleed caused by blunt force trauma,” among other injuries. After doing all they could at St. Mary’s, doctors sent Baby Faith to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston via helicopter where her injuries were confirmed and treated. CPS immediately took custody.

An investigation by The Examiner revealed a family with a history of child neglect.

Baby Faith’s parents are 20-year-old Christine Johnson and 17-year-old Darrell Mason, both of Port Arthur. Johnson was reportedly staying with her aunt, Linda Fields, who has had five of her own children removed from her home due to neglectful supervision, Pulliam said. In an interview with The Examiner, Fields denied that Johnson and Baby Faith had been staying with her and said she did not believe Johnson would do anything to hurt her infant daughter.

“She is really protective of her baby,” Fields said during an August interview.

The probable cause affidavit later issued for Johnson’s arrest on charges of injury to a child told a different story. According to the affidavit, during a video interview Johnson admitted she had been angry with her baby for crying while Johnson was trying to sleep.

The affidavit reads, “Christine Johnson … knowingly and intentionally jerked her premature one-month-old child, Faith Mason, causing her neck to break and also causing Faith to suffer serious brain injury. … She reached into the baby’s bed and angrily jerked her out of bed by the arms.”

After seeing the video, Baby Faith’s doctor confirmed that some of the infant’s injuries, such as her broken neck and arm along with her head trauma, could have been caused by Johnson jerking her out of bed by the arm.

And Linda Fields apparently saw the whole thing. According to the affidavit, Fields “observed Christine to jerk Faith Mason out of the bassinet a few minutes prior to them taking Faith to the hospital.”

She told detectives that she scolded Johnson, telling her she could hurt her baby that way, and Johnson became upset. Moments later, according to Fields’ statement to police, she noticed Baby Faith could barely breathe. The affidavit further indicated another of Johnson’s relatives, Angel Fields, “forced Christine to take Faith to the hospital.”

Johnson and Mason were both arrested on injury to a child charges in relation to the abuse of Baby Faith. Johnson is being held in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on $250,000 bond with a trial scheduled for February 2014. Mason is also still in jail on a $200,000 bond.

Although her biological parents remain incarcerated and have had their rights as parents terminated, Pulliam said things are looking up for Baby Faith. On Oct. 24, a still-healing Baby Faith was placed in a home with foster parents who can care for her and tend to her special medical needs. Pulliam said it has made a world of difference.

“She is doing quite well,” Pulliam said. “She is very happy and alert. They are taking very good care of her.”

Pulliam said Baby Faith is still experiencing seizures due to her traumatic brain injury, but she is improving and on medication to control the seizures. Pulliam said she sees hope for Faith and when she is well enough she will be placed up for adoption, possibly next year.

When asked what can be done to prevent child abuse, Pulliam said that is a difficult question to answer.

“I wish I had the answer for that,” she replied, and urged people to act to stop child abuse, even if it cannot be fully prevented. “The community should report any kind of abuse. Don’t think someone else is going to report it. If you know it, if you think it, report it. We can’t stop it if we don’t know about it.”

To report suspected child abuse, call (800) 252-5400.

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