College Place man charged with assault on infant daughter

Thomas N. Caldwell is accused of injuring his then 7-7 1/2-month-old daughter in the autumn.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man was formally charged Wednesday afternoon in Superior Court with breaking the ribs of his infant daughter.

Thomas N. Caldwell, 34, of 708 S. College Ave., No. 204, College Place, is accused of first-degree assault of a child.

Officials believe Caldwell forcibly grabbed and squeezed his baby -- breaking seven of her ribs -- probably around the end of October or first of November when she was 7-7 1/2 months old.

The injuries came to light when the child's mother, Amber D. Dublinski, took her to Walla Walla General Hospital on Jan. 9 because she wasn't thriving, according to Walla Walla police Detective Miguel Sanchez.

X-rays revealed the baby's injuries, which were in the healing stage, and authorities were notified.

Caldwell reportedly gave differing accounts of how the injuries could have occurred.

He eventually admitted hurting his daughter, but said it was an accident. He told police he was drunk when he went to the College Place apartment after a Halloween party, tripped over something, fell forward and landed with his elbow on the stomach of the baby who was in a bassinet, Sanchez said Wednesday.

A subsequent report by a child protection team at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle determined that falling into a bassinet doesn't explain the child's injuries, according to a Walla Walla police report filed in court.

Caldwell, 34, was arrested in College Place on Tuesday afternoon and booked into the Walla Walla County Jail. Bail later was set at $25,000.

Sanchez said the child now is in foster care and doing well.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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