Search still on for man accused of abusing a toddler


    By Nathan Benson

    West Valley City Police are still searching for a man accused of abusing a toddler last week.

    Michael Barber has been charged with five counts of intentional child abuse after he claimed his girlfriend?s 2-year-old son fell in the bathtub. The boy underwent surgery for severe head trauma Wednesday at Primary Children?s Medical Center.

    Doctors removed part of the boy?s skull after finding internal bleeding in the brain, among other injuries.

    West Valley Police Capt. Steve Sandquist told the Associated Press emergency crews found the toddler in the bathtub lying face up in one foot of water, slipping in an out of consciousness.

    Barber claimed the boy slipped and fell, hitting his head on the tub. However, Sandquist told the AP doctors found injuries that were inconsistent with a ground-level fall.

    Joy O?Banion, director of the Family Support and Treatment Center in Orem, said child abuse cases in Utah increased more than 33 percent between 2000 and 2003, a statistic she called ?scary.?

    O?Banion said an average of more than 1,200 child abuse cases were reported per year in Utah County from 1999 to 2003.

    Some national estimates indicate only one in three child abuse cases are reported, but O?Banion said Utahns seem to be more active in disclosing abuse information.

    ?As we become more aware of the issues [like child abuse], we become more aware of the things happening around us and more willing to report,? O?Banion said.

    O?Banion also suggested that those without children, such as many college students, can involve themselves in helping combat child abuse by volunteering. The Boys & Girls Clubs and after-school programs offer opportunities for students to assist children at risk.

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email