Bennington man accused of abusing infant

BENNINGTON -- A South Street man accused of lifting an infant above his head and slamming it onto a bed was ordered held without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges.

Michael T. Crawford, 28, was charged with first degree aggravated domestic assault, domestic assault with a prior conviction, and misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a child, and reckless endangerment.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, on Sept. 10 he learned from the Department of Children and Families of a report made that Crawford had lifted a 5-month-old child above his head and brought the child down hard onto a bed because it was crying.

Police said they spoke to the child's mother, who said she and Crawford took her child to a friend's house in Arlington, but she left briefly with her friend, leaving Crawford to look after the infant. The mother said later she got a text message from her friend saying Philip Morse, 28, who was in the house, saw Crawford handling the child in a rough manner.

Morse told police he was doing laundry when he saw Crawford shake the child, then lift it above his head so the child's head hit the ceiling, then slammed the baby down on the bed. He said he overheard Crawford expressing frustration over the child crying. Morse said he is friends with Crawford, but felt the child should not have been treated like that.


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Police said they spoke to a young child who allegedly witnessed the incident. The child described something similar to what Morse said, minus the infant's head hitting the ceiling, and told police that Crawford asked him not to say anything about what happened.

Crawford told police he did lift the child above his head, but was not rough with him. According to Silvestro, Crawford changed his statements slightly, saying he handled the child harder than he should have and would not do so in the same manner again.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.