NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – A Nacogdoches High School senior is in jail for scalding his baby daughter. Seventeen year old Kendrick Tarver was arrested on campus Thursday.
A grand jury indicted the father after the 12-day-old infant was severely burned during a July 27 bath. Experts say the incident portrays the larger issue of how society deals with inadequate parenting skills.
Tarver was all alone with his newborn, a baby less than two weeks old, while Carolyn Whitaker was helping the child's mother obtain food stamps. Whitaker and her niece received Tarver's phone call. "He said the baby won't stop crying. She's crying and I can't stop her crying," said Whitaker. Court documents confirm the kind of injuries Whitaker saw. "Her scalp was peeling back, skin coming off her," recalled Whitaker.
Emergency room doctors found second and third degree burns to the baby's chin, stomach, genitals and buttocks. She was flown by helicopter to Shriner's Burn Unit. "They took her clothes off of her and then, then I started hollering and started crying then," said Whitaker.
Tarver says he was giving the child a bath with a wash cloth. He eventually admitted spraying the baby directly out of the sprayer with scalding hot tap water. The mother blamed diaper rash.
Child Protective Service reports the injury to the child seems to be more inexperience and incomprehension than malice. "You can talk about intentional. You can talk about knowing and you can talk about reckless. In this particular case, the defendant was indicted for reckless conduct," said Nicole Lostracco, Nacogdoches County District Attorney.
The images of the baby are difficult to forget. "She's so little, so little, she's so little," said Whitaker.
Social workers know specialized parenting instruction is needed, but say, "It's one of the things that was cut in the CPS Department because they're not able to pay for parenting classes anymore," noted Rebecca Carlton, CASA Director.
CASA, the child's advocate during foster care, wants more resources. "If you have parents who are at risk to maybe not do well with their children because of their own histories, we would like to find providers in our area," said Carlton.
Tarver's bond is set at $50,000. The 19 year old mother is seeking guidance, while the baby remains in foster care and is receiving treatment for her wounds.