Man Gets State Prison for Putting Child in Burning Hot Bath

CLEARFIELD – A Philipsburg man accused of placing a child in a tub of water so hot it burned him pleaded guilty Tuesday during plea and sentencing court in Clearfield County.

Harold William Vaughn Jr., 102 Bainey Rd., Philipsburg, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person. He was sentenced to 12 months to two years in state prison. He was fined $3 plus costs and must pay restitution of $720.

Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry stated that he chose a state sentence because Vaughn showed no remorse and a lesser sentence would diminish the seriousness of the act. He added that Vaughn has physical and mental issues that are best dealt with at a state institution.

The charges stem from an incident in Decatur Township on May 23, 2011. The mother told police that her 4-year-old son was injured while in Vaughn’s care. The injuries included severe burns on his feet, genitalia, back and buttocks. When Vaughn returned the boy to the mother, she called emergency medical services. He was taken to the Clearfield Hospital and then sent on to West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh due to the severity of the burns.

Prior to sentencing, Vaughn claimed he didn’t do it and said there were other people there. Cherry explained to him that he had already been colloquied regarding the plea agreement and at that time said he fully understood it.

According to the affidavit of probable cause in the case, the mother told police that Vaughn was to return the boy to her at 8 p.m. May 23, 2011, but he called her to say he did not want to bring him back because she would be mad about the burns on his feet. He did eventually return the boy a bit later, explaining to the mother that the boy turned on the hot water in the tub and then got into it.

During his interview with police, Vaughn said he was going to give the boy a bath before taking him back to his mother. Vaughn was on the phone and getting some clean cloths when the victim turned on the hot water in the tub and got in. After the boy yelled “it’s hot!” Vaughn walked into the bathroom and told the boy to get out.

A doctor told police that the victim suffered from a scald burn with second and third degree burns on his buttocks, genitalia and feet. He had no splatter marks, which indicated to the doctor that the victim was submerged in scalding water. The boy required skin grafts on his feet and ankles.

After receiving this information, police spoke to Vaughn a second time. This time he stated the boy did run the bath water while he was on the phone and attempting to get clean cloths. He walked back into the bathroom, picked the boy up and placed him in the tub. He pulled him out when he observed loose skin around his ankles. Vaughn admitted he did not seek medical attention for the boy because he was afraid he would get into trouble.

In a second case, Vaughn pleaded guilty to writing bad checks. He was sentenced to three months to two years in state prison. This sentence will run concurrent with his other sentence. He was fined $1 plus costs and must pay restitution of $1,703.50.

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