Parents claim 'tug of war' over child led to injury

Darren Clark and Ashely Longmire

May 27, 2010 2:30:46 PM PDT
Police have charged a couple with child abuse resulting in serious injury after a baby boy suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and a broken arm.

Darren Donta Clark, 21, of 233 Reunion Park Drive, Apex and Ashley Rennee Longmire, 20, of 1104 Falls Lane, Fuquay Varina, were both being held in the Wake County Jail under $100,000 bond.

According to arrest warrants, the infant was just 7-weeks-old at the time of the alleged abuse that occurred over a week-long period in February. The baby is now in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Appearing in a magistrate's courtroom on Thursday, both Clark and Longmire claimed the injuries to the child were an accident.

They told a magistrate that they were fighting and the mother was holding the baby. Clark said at one point the baby was dropped and that at another point his girlfriend threatened to take his baby away from him and they got in a "tug of war."

"He fell on his head and then it was one point where I felt like she was about to take my son away from me so, like it was almost like almost a tug of war between me and her," he said.

"Me and my girlfriend was going through some things - arguing, domestic violence," he continued. "It got to the point where it got physical and my little baby was there and… You know it never was intentionally, it's just our dumb actions basically."

"Me and my boyfriend was arguing," Longmire confirmed.

The couple's story of what happened doesn't wash with Apex investigators.

"We don't believe that to be the account of what happened. And even if their account were to be true, that is still child abuse. You don't play tug of war with a seven week old child," said Captain Ann Stephens.

Stephens says some of the rib fractures happened at different times.

"Bones of a child that age are very hard to break, so based on the injuries we just don't feel like this was an accidental injury that occurred," she explained.

Clark told the magistrate the couple is trying to get help.

"Now we're going through like counseling and all that stuff with CPS [Child Protective Services] now to get him back," he said.

The couple's next court appearance is expected Friday. The infant is expected to fully recover from his injuries.

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