A 36-year-old former hospital worker was stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic at the time he lost his temper and caused brutal injuries to his infant son, he said during sentencing Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
Charles Pete Medley was sentenced to three years probation with a host of conditions, including attending parenting and aggression control classes. Violating the conditions could result in a four-year prison sentence.
Medley pleaded guilty on Monday to three counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment.
“We’re not condoning this — my God, we’re not condoning this,” said prosecutor Andrew Doyle. “This is not a scenario, from the state’s perspective, where there is a super well-equipped person who simply disregarded norms. … We thought if we put a big enough penalty under him and ask him to do a whole lot of things, he benefits, the community benefits, the state benefits. We all benefit.”
Medley had no prior criminal record, which attorneys said factored into the sentencing recommendation. Defense attorney Clark Fry acknowledged his client went from “zero to 60 pretty fast.”
To this, Judge Alycia Sykora responded: “It was more like zero to 260, given the profound injuries he caused, including punching the baby with a closed fist.”
The case came to the attention of law enforcement April 23 when the then-15-week-old child arrived for a checkup at the hospital with suspicious injuries.
X-rays and MRIs revealed multiple skull and leg fractures and a brain bleed.
At the time, Medley worked the graveyard shift at St. Charles Bend emptying trash containers around the hospital. He told police he was getting less than four hours of sleep a night and was experiencing stress from the birth of his first child and isolation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a crucible,” Doyle said. “The (psychological) report showed that Mr. Medley had some struggles with coping skills. He’s got some learned behaviors that almost mimic cognitive defects.”
Doyle said the psychological exam of Medley found he showed remorse and sympathy for his son and was receptive to undergoing intensive treatment.
Sykora expressed frustration that the 20-page report was not included in the case file and thus she didn’t get to read it before the hearing. She asked what it contained that was so significant to justify a sentence without prison time, but in the end went along with the plea deal.
Medley was in custody in the Deschutes County jail for 216 days, from his arrest in April until his sentencing Tuesday.
The victim’s mother spoke briefly by phone, asking the judge for leniency. She said her child had fully healed and the Department of Health and Human Services recently closed its case on the incident.
She said her son looks forward to the regular video calls with his father in jail.
“He gets very excited to see his dad,” she said.
Medley, who appeared by video from jail, looked down or closed his eyes for much of the hearing.
“I just want to say how remorseful I am. I know there is no excuse for it. I just want to do whatever it takes,” he said.
At one point, Sykora paused proceedings to ask several people in the audience gallery to quiet down.
They were in court for another hearing but were affected by what they heard in Medley’s case, one of them told the judge.
“It’s just very upsetting,” the woman said. “Sorry, I have a 2-month-old baby, and it just resonated with me.”