Casper Man Accused of Child Abuse; Toddler’s Liver Likely Injured
A Casper man is accused of abusing a 2-year-old to the point that the child suffered a broken spine and possible liver damage.
Peter Benjamin Gatza is charged with aggravated child abuse, according to records filed in Natrona County District Court on Nov. 15.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Casper police were called to a Provence Court apartment at roughly 1:30 a.m. June 12 after receiving a report of child abuse. Court documents say Gatza was watching the child, along with two siblings, while their mother was in the hospital at the time of the alleged incident.
The affidavit says that a neighbor in the adjacent apartment was awoken to a sound "she never wanted to hear again." The neighbor told a police detective that she could hear a child screaming and something being slammed against the bathroom wall on the other side from her bathroom, court documents say.
Court documents say the neighbor called the child's mother, who eventually spoked to Gatza on the phone. Gatza allegedly told the child's mother that he was giving her kids a shower when he "snapped." The affidavit alleges that Gatza told the child's mother that when he finally came to, he had blood on his hands.
The child's mother told Gatza she did not trust him with her children and was sending over a baby sitter.
When the baby sitter arrived, court documents say, Gatza threatened to assault her, but eventually let the babysitter take the children to her home.
The child's mother eventually called police who took the child, along with two others, to the Wyoming Medical Center emergency room.
A Casper police detective learned that a CT scan revealed a skull fracture along with several other broken bones. According to the affidavit, the child had elevated liver enzymes, which could indicate the child’s liver was injured.
When officers searched the apartment, they found a shirt and diaper, both with blood on them.
Aggravated child abuse is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.