Man charged with beating infant, father speaks out

Jacob Wilder (left) and his suspected abuser, Kristopher Bernier

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A Woonsocket man is facing first-degree child abuse charges after police said he repeatedly slapped his roommates’ five-month-old child.

Police said they were called to 120 East St. Sunday for reports the infant had fallen off the couch.

When officers arrived, they said they found rescue workers attending to an unconscious and unresponsive child. Rescue workers told police the infant had facial bruising and a hematoma.

Police said Kristopher Bernier, 25, was a roommate of the child’s parents and he was babysitting the infant.

“While he was in the kitchen heating up the bottle he said he heard a thud and when he came out, the baby was on the floor face down,” said Det. Sgt. Matthew Ryan.

Photo Courtesy: Casey Wilder

However, police said the story didn’t add up and, after pressing Bernier, they said they got a different story.

“Yes, the baby was crying. He couldn’t take it anymore and his words were, ‘I lost it’ and he started slapping the baby,” Ryan said.

Police said the infant was first brought to Landmark Medical Center and then transferred to Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Casey Wilder, the infant’s father, told Eyewitness News, “as soon as I stepped in that hospital, I cried more than I ever have in my life. More than when my son was born.”

Wilder and the baby’s mother went to a Celtics game Sunday night. It was their first outing since Jacob was born in October.

“As soon as I sit down, my sister, who lives downstairs from me, starts blowing up my phone,” Wilder recalled. “And then I get calls from my roommate saying there is something wrong with Jacob.”

Police said the child’s injuries were serious.

“He had definite bruising about the face and head and we’re told the baby suffered a possible hematoma,” Ryan said.

Photo Courtesy: Casey Wilder

Bernier was charged with first-degree child abuse. Bail was set at $25,000 with surety at his arraignment in Providence District Court Monday. He was also ordered to have no contact with the child.

Eyewitness News has learned it’s not the first time Bernier has been accused of abusing a child. According to the Attorney General’s office, he’s currently facing charges in a separate case dating back to 2012.

As a coworker, roommate and friend, Wilder said he was shocked by Bernier’s actions. “I was doing the best thing [I could] as a friend — to take him in. And he repays me by almost killing my son.”

Wilder asked the public for prayers Monday night.

“He’s a beautiful little boy, my first child…just, prayers and dreams for the little guy.”