A 40-year-old man was arrested Tuesday after witnesses said he punched his 3-year-old son in the face in a Thurston County grocery store parking lot.
Charles F.W. Stilson was booked into the Thurston County Jail and appeared Wednesday afternoon before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Erik Price. Price set bail at $75,000 and found probable cause for two charges: second-degree child assault and fourth-degree assault. Both are domestic violence charges.
Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Hewitson called the level of violence in the case “startling” and said that the boy was still hospitalized. She asked that Stilson have no contact with his family or with any children. She asked that the judge set bail at $250,000.
Attorney Eric Pilon of the Office of Assigned Counsel said that while Stilson does have a criminal history, it mainly consists of property crimes. He asked for a bail of $5,000 to $10,000.
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“I don’t believe at this time that Mr. Stilson is a threat to the community,” Pilon said.
According to court documents, several people called 911 from an IGA grocery store near Rochester and reported that a man had punched a child in the face several times. Witnesses surrounded the man, who was later identified as Stilson, and the child’s mother took him into the store.
When a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy arrived, Stilson said his son had fallen off of a tractor the day before and injured his face. He told the deputy that his son had been acting out at the store, so he spanked him, according to court documents. He denied hitting the child with a closed fist.
Medics were concerned that the child might have skull fractures and transported him to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. He had swelling around his forehead, cheek and eye sockets, according to court documents.
Four witnesses came forward and said they had seen Stilson treat his daughter and son roughly while trying to put them in the car. One witness said Stilson tossed his daughter like a rag doll. Multiple witnesses described Stilson holding his son down and striking him in the face with a closed fist, according to court documents.