Local pastor faces child abuse charge

(UPDATE: Wednesday 5:15 p.m. ) An associate pastor on administrative leave from his church is facing a misdemeanor child abuse charge in Ottawa County District Court.
Becky Vargo
Jun 25, 2014


The Rev. Tom Cook of First Presbyterian Church announced to his congregation on Sunday that Scott Robertson, the Grand Haven church’s associate pastor of Family Life, was on leave dealing with a personal situation.

Members of the congregation said Cook didn’t share any more information, and Cook is on vacation this week and not available to answer questions from the Tribune. Office staff declined to comment.

Robertson, 32, could be arraigned today on a fourth-degree child abuse charge, said Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. The Grand Haven man is being charged with causing injury to his then 3-month-old son.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail.

Bennett said the county prosecutor’s office likely authorized the lesser charge because the child is almost fully recovered. In addition, the father has no criminal history and is no longer living at home.

Robertson pleaded no contest in May to a Michigan Department of Human Services petition seeking to take the child out of his care.

The state agency had removed the child from the Robertson home on Valentine’s Day, but he was returned to his mother’s custody two months later.

Paperwork filed in the Family Court case notes that the child was in Robertson’s care on Feb. 10 while his wife, Olivia, was out of the home. The child was reportedly fine when she left, but was “fussy” “and found to have red spots on his left eyeball” when she returned.

“The mother thought the child had pink eye,” Bennett said. But that can also be indicative of a head injury, he noted.

The parents took their child to North Ottawa Community Hospital for treatment. The boy was discharged in stable and satisfactory condition, according to court papers.

The next day, Robertson was again alone with the child and changing his diapers when the boy started crying.

“When Olivia went to check on him, his eyes were rolled back into his head, his back arched, he lost his bowels and would not respond,” the report notes. The boy’s “legs were shaking and his body was tense. (He) was taken to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with his injuries.”

Bennett said the child was transferred to DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, where doctors said he had “bleeding all over the brain, as well as bleeding in the cerebellum, which is due to severe whiplash.”

The report notes the child also had bruising to his left eye area, as well as red spots on his eye.

The Family Court case is complete, with the exception of dispositional hearings every 90 days until the Department of Human Services dismisses the case.

UPDATE: Robertson entered a not guilty plea when arraigned Wednesday in Ottawa County District Court. 

Bond was set at $1,000 personal recognizance.

No further court dates were set.



The Faith that saves you...changes you.

GH resident

Another sicko in Grand Haven. Maybe they should lock him up with the other former youth pastor that was just sentenced to jail for child abuse. They use there involvement with "god" to cover up there true illness. Just sick.


"The parents took their child to North Ottawa Community Hospital for treatment. The boy was discharged in stable and satisfactory condition"

Just another reason to never ever go to NOCH.


At first I was hesitant to blame the church or staff in regard to this, however, this seems more than a coincidence; what's going on with basic hiring skills at this church? I wonder what the topic for this Sunday service will be; do on to others...


Several issues with these pastors locally. Lack of integrity, work ethic, employable skills, honesty, ability to connect with people. Church can be a wonderful place - but their must be the right people in the right places and that just is not the case right now. There is one church in Robinson Township. Deacon board is a good ole boys club. No transparency, they count ballots in back room. A member asks for a specific count of vote. They board says a resounding NO! were not doing it, meeting adjourned. They do the same with finances. No transparency. Money is drying up and they wonder why? They then think they are being persecuted! and make everything "a matter of prayer" If you question them - they excommunicated the last person for doing it. Really now? They lie all the time and talk out of two sides of their mouths. They do it just because they can. Youth group went from 150 down to about 8 or less in past 3 years. Its like the only qualification that is looked at to be a pastor or youth pastor is good looks and able to flap the beak, all the other qualifications are subjective. To be a deacon a person must be selected by the board itself - so they always re-select themselves.


Jesus said "follow me", not "follow my followers." I find it difficult to listen to people who profess to be "men of God." They are humans. Some are even very flawed humans.


we are ALL very flawed


Churches can be very dangerous places. Proceed at your own risk. There are crazy people there just looking for someone to blame for their problems.

GH resident

I couldn't agree more. I have known so many so called "religious" people and they always blame there actions on God. It is so pathetic and creepy.


this is a good man who made a serious mistake, became frightened so he tried to cover it up. He lost his job,his marriage and his son; so don't pile on he has paid for his mistake and like each of us, he's a sinner saved by grace


Uhh... You didn't really help his case at all here... And he lost all these things in his life because of a choice he made. He didn't trip and fall with the baby. He wasn't involved in a car accident in which the baby was injured. He knowingly and maliciously injured the baby, then when the consequences of his action were becoming apparent by the brusing and internal bleeding.... he attempted to cover it up. Big difference.


I didn't say accident a mistake in judgement, an action in frustration is not deliberate or malicious.


You will get nowhere with that logic, people control themselves when it comes to injuring women and children, if they can't then they need to be away from potential victims; prison sounds about right. How in the world is this not deliberate or malicious; it is what it is. It doesn't matter if your his mother, father, sister, brother, girl friend, boy friend, ex-wife, or partner, who ever you are, stop sticking up for this low life, your credibility at this point is down the tubes.


You said mistake. And an action in frustration is NOT DELIBERATE? Really? So, with that logic... When I spend my savings on a used car and 2 weeks later the engine blows, I get angry and frustrated and find the seller and out of frustration dismember him. Or fine a little less thought out, I shoot him in the face because he keeps chanting "sold as is". I am still a good person? The man who robs a bank killing three guards because his house is in foreclosure? He's a good man? The reasoning behind the act becomes a little less important when the result of said act inflicts injuries on others. Shaking a baby (which is in fact what happened, it is not speculation) is deliberate. He may not have wanted the baby to be as injured as it was, but he acted in a way as to stop the crying. And his act, was malicious.


If you consider this a "good man" then my sympathy to you; I personally consider him a male predator but certainly not a "man". This is a mentally ill individual, as is any male that would take advantage of, or hurt a woman or a child; not a man at all.

Mom of teens

Good Man? Parents are educated on the seriousness of shaking a baby before they leave the hospital.....This child could have died......would you still be saying that then?? He is an adult, responsible for his actions and knows better. His son was a defenseless, innocent newborn, who trusts his parents.....With all the information out there on shaken baby syndrome, I can't believe anyone would make excuses for this......Repulsive.


It wouldn't suprise me at all 'rukidding' if the head pastor had everything to do with the hiring process. What pastor of his church adopts a 'hands off' policy for new hires or refrains from being involved in the process without influence? It's one thing to end up with a bad hire(leg breaker),it's on a whole other level when you have back to back making headlines. " Members of the congregation said Cook didn't share any more information, and Cook is on vacation this week and not available to answer questions from the Tribune." That pretty much says it all, tremendous leadership on full display.


Thanks for the updated information, you couldn't get me in that church and I can't believe the church senate isn't dropping the hammer on this with a full internal investigation on everybody. It wouldn't surprise to find the books being cooked either.


It is an unfortunate reality churches with a limited flock often fill leadership positions based on willingness to commit. The Scriptures instruct us to "know those who labor among you" and should a church fail at this basic instruction leaders are chosen from the pool of the willing rather than out of a proof of faith by living the life or being “called”. The failure in this incident was in a lack of understanding or refusal to follow Scripture, when man takes over spiritual things often do not end well


STFU with your BS church talk. The "calling" your talking about is a narcissistic need to let everyone know how enlightened and smart you are. Most who feel this "calling" are even more flawed than the rest of us.


The faith that saves you changes you.


I would love to Jazz this sicko up.


Comment he's a good man,not my definition!


I applaud all of you who have made a comment on someone you don't know, with a charge you have no idea what the facts are besides what is in the Tribune (really?!). Most comments are pure conjecture and opinion flying off into space and some of you have convicted this man before his day in court. Shame on you!!


Believe me or not, I used to know this useless paperclip personally. He is an utter a-hole and is abusive, sadistic, vile, and manipulative. I've met the child. It was darn near perfect and hardly ever fussed. When it did it was barely at all and could hardly push anyone to even think about shaking it. Just after the incident he went straight back to working at the church and moved on as if it was just a small hiccup. He continued to post pictures on his Facebook of the kid and repeatedly denied being guilty. But let me tell you right here, right now, this man is complete and utter filth!


You don't need to go to church to be a believer. Follow the golden rule. No need to impress anyone or "fit in". Jesus didn't do this.


You know nothing and just speculating !!!!


I find it interesting how so many professed religious people are so judgemental. I think that is what is wrong with your church.




I must not be "getting" it fully because I am wondering if it's possible that there was something really wrong with the baby when the parents first brought it in? Or was the baby 100% injured AFTER??

I just don't understand how you can hurt a child, let alone an innocent, tiny baby... they're so fragile. And yes, it's frustrating when they won't stop crying and are "fussy", but OMG how can you hurt such a little living thing? I get nervous even holding babies because they're so fragile, I can't imagine someone snapping because an infant is "fussy".

To those of you blaming church or Christianity, AND those of you defending him: STOP! Faith doesn't "make" you do bad things, you can't blame GOD for what you do... God didn't make him hurt his baby... there is no "good" to come out of a situation like this, except hopefully the baby will be far away from the dad now. A bad person is a bad person... people who do bad things CAN believe in God, it doesn't mean that they live the best life. . . in my opinion it seems like a lot of churches and Christian organizations (like that radio station) need to step up their game when it comes to hiring people. Whoever said "he's lost enough, stop criticizing him" . . . are you serious?? There is NEVER an excuse to cause brain injuries to a child! No matter what he has lost, he was still wrong, I don't care how you spin it. Abuse is abuse, stop acting like simply because he worked at a church that his sins are "less" worse than if he wasn't a pastor.



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