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Navy seaman arraigned in alleged abuse of infant son

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: theday.com

Published August 29. 2014 1:12PM   Updated August 29. 2014 11:43PM
Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Jordan Rittenhouse is led from the courtroom after appearing before Judge Kevin McMahon in New London Superior Court Friday, August 29, 2014 on charges of assault and risk of injury to a minor stemming from injuries to his 2-month old son.

A doctor who is treating a 2-month-old boy who was allegedly abused by his father called it the "worst case of serious physical injury she has seen in her career," court records say.

The father, Jordan Rittenhouse, a Navy sailor stationed in Groton, is accused of breaking 29 bones in his son’s body. He was arraigned Friday at the courthouse on Broad Street on charges of first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. His bond was raised to $500,000 cash.

Groton Town police received a report Tuesday from the state Department of Children and Families on a possible physical abuse case.

The baby’s mother, Krishna Rittenhouse, had taken him to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London Monday because he was not eating properly. The child was transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital after doctors uncovered multiple rib fractures.

The DCF report indicated that Krishna Rittenhouse told doctors she suffers from calcium and iron deficiencies, and that could possibly explain her son’s injuries.

But Yale’s Detection Assessment Referral Treatment team said it was "highly unlikely the baby would have rib fractures as a result of brittle bone disease," the arrest warrant says.

Police interviewed Krishna Rittenhouse on Wednesday. She told investigators that she and her husband were married a year ago, but they have known each other for seven years. They lived in North Carolina before moving to 53 Deerwood Drive in Groton when Jordan Rittenhouse joined the Naval Submarine School at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton in January.

Originally from Rockwell, N.C., Rittenhouse, 24, entered the Navy in November, according to a Navy spokesman.

The couple also has a 2-year-old child.

Krishna Rittenhouse described the victim as "perfect baby" but said he had acid reflux and would become gassy if he was not fed properly. The mother said the infant was eating less and less, and on Saturday, she noticed that he was not eating regularly, the warrant says.

On Monday, she called the infant’s pediatrician, who told her to take the baby to the emergency room.

She denied harming the baby. She said she never saw her husband harm the baby, but he did voice his frustration when he tried to feed the baby.

Police also interviewed Jordan Rittenhouse on Wednesday. He told police that he was under a lot of pressure to complete school and maintain a certain grade, but that he would never harm his children.

When police asked him if he ever got rough with the victim out of frustration, he initially denied touching the baby, but then said, "I may have squeezed him at some point, but I am afraid for my career. I’m just getting started in my career," according to the warrant.

Police spoke to Dr. Andrea Asnes about the child’s injuries. She said the victim had 29 bone factures that had shown various degrees of healing. She said some injuries were consistent with squeezing while others were not, the warrant says.

Asnes told police "she was surprised the victim was alive," the warrant states.

When police interviewed Jordan Rittenhouse a second time, he admitted more. He said he squeezed the victim at least eight times so hard that the baby stopped crying. On other occasions, he said he squeezed the victim while holding him another seven or eight times.

He also said he shoved the baby’s bottle into his mouth, causing the infant’s mouth to bleed.

"Rittenhouse recalled one occasion when he squeezed the victim that he was concerned that he may have punctured a lung," the warrant says.

Rittenhouse’s next court date is scheduled for Sept. 10.

i.larraneta@theday.com

Twitter: @larraneta

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