PROVO — A Pleasant Grove man previously convicted of child abuse was charged Monday with putting a 2-year-old child into scalding water.
Tyler Joseph Willett, 38, is charged in 4th District Court with child abuse, a second-degree felony.
On Thursday, Willet brought his girlfriend’s 2-year-old boy to the emergency room at Utah Valley Hospital with “severe burns covering a majority of his face, neck and back,” according to charging documents.
“The burns were severe enough to make the skin peel, and cause need for the child to be transferred from the Utah Valley Hospital to the burn unit at the University of Utah Hospital,” a police affidavit states.
Willett claimed while he was watching the boy, he “appeared to be overheating, so he gave him a bath to cool off. While drying the child with a towel, he realized the skin was peeling off,” the charges state.
Willett said the peeling may have been caused by the bath, and “also stated the burns may have been caused by a chemical, but he could not explain any further,” according to the affidavit.
A doctor, however, determined “the burns were consistent with hot water, and the placement of the burns indicate that the child was held over the water and dipped in, head first, explaining the lack of burns on the legs,” the charges state.
When police told Willett what the doctor had determined, he invoked his right to remain silent, according to the charges.
Willett was previously convicted of child abuse, a third-degree felony, in 2017. He was given a suspended prison sentence and placed on probation. His new charge could be considered a violation of his probation.
In the 2017 incident, Willett claimed he was changing the diaper of a 16-month-old boy when one of the boy’s legs “slipped” and Willett heard a “popping noise,” according to charging documents. But while treating the boy, doctors found older injuries that were healing, including a broken foot, the charges state. The injuries were determined to be nonaccidental.