St. George man charged with felony abuse of toddler left in his care

St. George Police vehicle. File photo:

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Aug. 1, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George man has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse after a baby in his care was burned on a stove burner and a vaporizer, and was dropped after being thrown into the air.

Robert Willis, 33, was arrested on July 22 after an incident reported in May.

“The initial report came in the form of a Child Abuse and Neglect Report (CANR), which indicated that a 22-month-old male had been injured on several occasions while under the care of … Robert Anderson,” says the suspect’s probable cause statement, filed by an officer of the St. George Police Department.

“According to the medical report, the victim had a patterned scar on his right thigh consistent with the mother’s report that the victim had been placed on a hot burner while under Robert’s care. The victim also had a burn on his chest, reportedly from leaning over a hot humidifier while in Robert’s care.

“The victim also had a laceration on his lip, which occurred when Robert tossed the victim into the air, causing him to hit his head, and failing to catch the victim as he fell to the ground.”

Anderson “estimated the burn on the victim’s leg occurred in approximately February, 2022, when Robert accidentally placed the victim on the kitchen burner,” the police statement says. “Robert estimated the second incident occurred in late March, 2022, when he left the victim alone in the bedroom with the humidifier running on the floor nearby. Robert heard the victim cry and returned to the bedroom to find the victim on the ground near the humidifier.”

Anderson estimated the third incident happened around Easter (April 17) of this year, “when he was playfully tossing the victim into the air, while standing inside of a doorway, causing the victim’s head to strike the doorway. Robert was unable to catch the falling victim, causing him to hit the ground.”

On June 24, Child Protection Services alerted St. George Police that the child had again been injured while in Anderson’s care, and provided photos of facial bruising and informed “the victim had a possible fracture.”

Anderson said the facial bruising occurred after he and the child’s mother squeezed the toddler’s cheeks in order to force his mouth open for liquid medication.

Regarding the fracture, “Robert did admit that he was driving around, alone with the victim, when he became upset with the victim, who was misbehaving. Robert then admittedly picked the victim up by one leg and placed him in his car seat, presumably causing the fracture injury.”

Anderson was charged with two counts of child abuse with injury/reckless, a third-degree felony. He was booked into the Washington County jail, and has since been released.


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