Prison for babysitter who 'lost it' and badly hurt Hanover toddler

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A former Hanover man who "lost it" and inflicted multiple injuries on a toddler he was babysitting has been sentenced to prison.

Matthew Duane Howard, 33, now of Abbottstown, Adams County, pleaded guilty Dec. 9 to the felonies of aggravated assault and child endangerment.

It was an open plea, meaning it was up to presiding Common Pleas Judge Amber A. Kraft to determine his punishment.

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Howard appeared in York County Court on Thursday, where Kraft sentenced him to five to 10 years in state prison, plus five years' probation, according to court records.

She ordered him to have no contact with his victim or the child's family and directed him to successfully complete drug and alcohol counseling, records state.

Matthew Howard

Kraft also ordered Howard to complete DUI classes, parenting classes and a batterer-intervention program, according to court records.

His defense attorney, public defender Eric Wayne White, could not be reached for comment.

Fractured skull: Howard babysat his then-girlfriend's 2-year-old son in a Hanover home on Aug. 20, 2019, for about an hour, after which she returned home to find Howard holding the toddler by the back of the shirt, telling him to wake up, according to court documents.

The child wasn't alert, his arms were bent and rigid and his fists were clenched, police said.

The mother rushed the boy to Hanover Hospital, where doctors found he had suffered severe bruising to his head, a skull fracture and a broken collarbone, according to court documents.

Those documents state the head injuries caused bleeding on the toddler's brain, and that he also had bruises all over his body.

Hanover Police spoke to Howard the next day, and he admitted he injured the child when he "lost it," according to court documents.

Howard told investigators he struck the boy's face several times, pulled the boy by the arm and threw him into a clothes hamper, police said.

He claimed the toddler was a difficult child who cried all the time and said he didn't mean to hurt him, documents state.

Finding help: Overwhelmed parents can call The Lehman Center at 400 W. Market St. in York City — day or night — for emergency respite care for children under 7 and to learn about the many other services the center offers to parents and caregivers.

Reach The Lehman Center, which is part of the Children's Aid Society, by calling 800-635-6619 or 717-845-5771, or visit the Children's Aid Society online at www.cassd.org/thelehmancenter.

The center is available 24 hours a day to help parents in crisis and describes itself as a crisis nursery.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.