A 36-year-old Waukesha woman was charged with allegedly shaking her niece’s infant son and slamming his head against a couch on two separate occasions, causing severe brain bleeding and potentially leaving the child permanently blind in one eye.
Toni M. Mackay, 1475 Cleveland Ave. in Waukesha, was charged on Feb. 13 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with felony physical abuse of a child, recklessly causing great bodily harm.
At an initial appearance on Feb. 14, bail was set at $15,000, not including a warrant fee, and Mackay was ordered not to babysit any children, other than her own child.
A member of the victim’s family, who will not be identified to protect the privacy of the family, said Mackay ran a day care from her home. She said Mackay babysat children that were not family and she was paid for watching them.
According to the Department of Children & Families, the woman was not licensed to provide childcare. Waukesha Police Sargeant Jerry Habanek said that Mackay allegedly cared for three different children at her home, not including her own child and the victim. He said police have not found any evidence of other incidents of abuse.
According to the criminal complaint:
City of Waukesha police were dispatched to The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa on Feb. 6. A social worker at the hospital told police that Abraham, a four-month-old infant, was brought in earlier in the day because of something that allegedly happened at a great aunt’s house. A scan of the child showed bleeding in the child’s brain.
The child’s father told police that his son had begun vomiting frequently two weeks prior on Jan. 25 and was taken to urgent care in Waukesha. The vomiting continued, and he was taken to a pediatrician, who ran some tests, but could find nothing wrong.
On Feb. 6, Mackay was baby-sitting for the parents. She called them at about 12:20 p.m. and said the child was coughing, rigid and clenched up. The child’s father called back, but Mackay said it had stopped and the child was eating. She later allegedly admitted to police she knew the incident was a seizure and should have called 911.
The child’s mother called her pediatrician following the seizure and he advised them to take their son to the children’s hospital.
At the hospital, a CT scan showed a double brain bleed in both the front and the back of the skull, indicating abusive head trauma. The child also had retinal bleeding in both eyes. The damage was so severe in his right eye it may be permanently damaged, leaving him partially blind. The child was prepped for surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
Police interviewed the Mackay at the Department of Health and Human Services office. She said that on Jan. 22 she was changing the infant’s diaper and he was crying and being “crabby.”
She allegedly said that she did slam him down on the couch in her residence and the child’s head struck an exposed wooden area.
She allegedly also shook him on Feb. 6 because he was crying and would not drink from his bottle. Again, after shaking him, she slammed him down on the couch and he struck his head against the wooden framing.
About one hour after allegedly slamming the child on the couch, the child did appear to go into a seizure.
She allegedly said she did not intend to hurt the child because she loves him.
It was not yet possible to make a definitive statement to how the alleged abuse would impact the child, doctors said, but he may have learning disabilities or behavioral problems, including motor delay, blindness or mental retardation.
On Abraham's Caring Bridge page, his mother wrote that the doctor is still uncertain how much the child can see out of his right eye, but he seems to be able to follow with his eyes "everything that crosses his path."
“This will not be something that defines [him],” his mother wrote. “He is a SBS [Shaken Baby Syndrome] survivor, my boy with the scar.”
About Mackay, the mother wrote: “If I said I felt betrayed, that would be the understatement of a lifetime."
If convicted, Mackay faces up to 15 years in prison, $50,000 in fines, or both.
The woman’s next expected court date is Feb. 21
Anyone who wishes to provide financial assistance to the family can do so at Abe's Ever Ribbon webpage