Man Accused of Injuring Infant

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A father is jailed in Schuylkill County, accused of abusing his two-month-old son so badly that the child had a heart attack.

John Balkiewicz of Girardville was surprised when he heard that his friend and neighbor is accused of abusing a two-month-old boy in September.

"I'm shocked. I'm shocked overall because I've known him for a couple of years and I never got that impression. He seemed like a loving father so I am shocked!" Balkiewicz said.

Peter Howard is charged with endangering the welfare of children and aggravated assault.

According to court papers, Howard told his girlfriend, the child's mother, that he sat on the infant accidentally.

Doctors said the boy had bruising over an eye and a swollen and fractured leg.

They said the infant had a heart attack because of brain damage. Doctors called it an abusive and intentional act.

Howard was arrested for child manslaughter in Australia 15 years ago. He was accused of causing the death of an eight month old. It is unclear what became of those charges.

"I met his daughter and his little boy and, like I said, he seemed to be a loving father, so I am shocked by all the allegations," Balkiewicz added.

Parents who spoke to Newswatch 16 said if Howard is convicted of the alleged child abuse he should be jailed.

"It turns my stomach that someone could do that to a little baby, a defenseless child that can't defend themselves," said Kayla Coreia of Girardville.

"It's hard to think about you know," said Mike Valeno of Ashland,  "because the kid's innocent, a little kid, child."

State police said the abuse took place inside the Howard apartment. The mother said through a friend that the charges are simply not true.

Howard is locked up in Schuylkill County jail on $250,000 bail.

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