Toddler endured horrific abuse before losing consciousness, according to court documents

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James H. Dunkle Jr. | Bonneville County Jail

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The story contains violent descriptions of alleged child abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

IDAHO FALLS — An 18-month-old boy is hospitalized after he endured horrific abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, according to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

James H. Dunkle Jr., 30, of Bonneville County, is charged with one felony count of injury to a child and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine if found guilty.

Dunkle initially told deputies Tuesday the child fell off the bed and was unresponsive, but as detectives proceeded with an interview, an affidavit of probable cause shows Dunkle admitted to throwing, tossing, slapping, shaking and dropping the toddler.

RELATED: Local man arrested for felony injury to a child

Court documents state Dunkle was babysitting when the boy vomited, and he went to give the child a bath when he became “frustrated.” He allegedly swatted the boy three times on the buttocks.

Dunkle told detectives he was taking the toddler to his room when he caught his own shoulder on a door frame, and the child fell on the floor head first. Dunkle said he put his hands under the child’s body and shook him, which caused the boy’s head to hit the floor.

After allegedly dropping the boy, Dunkle said he went to put the child onto a changing table, but caught his foot on a rug and tried to “toss” the toddler onto the table. He said the boy hit his head on the edge of the changing table before the child fell face first onto the floor.

Dunkle picked the child up and put him back on the changing table.

“James admitted after putting a diaper on…he went to pick him up and intentionally ‘let the top half go.’ James said (the boy) fell back like he wasn’t supporting himself and ‘cracked’ the back of his head on the crib divider,” according to court documents.

Dunkle told detectives his frustration continued as he carried the child into a bedroom and tossed the boy across the bed. Dunkle said the toddler hit a dresser headfirst and fell to the floor.

Court documents do not indicate when the child lost consciousness, but Dunkle said he performed CPR and “was pushing too hard.”

Dunkle called 911 and said the toddler was unconscious. The boy was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where doctors determined he had a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain, a collapsed and bruised lung, and various bruises on his body. As of Wednesday afternoon, the toddler’s medical condition is unknown.

Dunkle was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and is being held in the Bonneville County Jail on $25,000 bail.

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