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Local pastor faces child abuse charge

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:42 PM

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.

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