Prosecutor: Flint mom, boyfriend severely burned toddler over potty training accident

The Genesee County prosecutor said a 2.5-year-old is “clinging to life” after suffering burns on half of his body
27-year-old Keyanna Pope, & her boyfriend, 24-year-old Kenyatta Gardner
27-year-old Keyanna Pope, & her boyfriend, 24-year-old Kenyatta Gardner(Eric Fletcher/ WJRT)
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 3:56 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A 2.5-year-boy suffered third-degree burns at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, according to the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The child is clinging to life as we speak. He has all sorts of issues,” Prosecutor David Leyton said.

Warning, the images in the video are difficult to see.

His office charged a Flint couple with five felonies. Leyton made it clear they’re innocent until proven guilty, but he believes the two deliberately hurt the toddler and then waited 24 hours before they called for help.

“It is so severe,” Leyton said. “The pictures are just really. really distressing to look at. I feel really bad for the little fellow. He’s really in tough shape.”

He said the abuse happened at the boy’s home inside an apartment complex near downtown Flint. It’s believed to have happened on Feb. 3, but Leyton said the boy’s mother, 27-year-old Keyanna Pope, and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Kenyatta Gardner, agreed to not say anything.

Leyton said they called police 24 hours later because the toddler wasn’t breathing.

“What we think happened is the child was having some issues with potty training. And I think that the mother and the boyfriend may have been upset about that and they threw him in the bathtub -- and the bathtub had scalding hot water,” he said.

It’s not clear how long the toddler was left in the water, but it burned him on both sides of his body from his stomach down to about his knees. The bright red color only emphasizes how horrific the injuries are.

“He has all sorts of issues, beginning with renal failure and many, many other issues. He’s really not functioning,” Leyton said. “You know, I’m always baffled when I have these child abuse cases. Why would anybody want to deliberately hurt a child? I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand it in this case and I don’t understand it in any of the cases.”

Pope and Gardner are facing five felony charges each, including first degree child abuse, torture and child abuse in the presence of another child. Leyton believes Pope’s daughter, who is about 4 years old, in the residence when the young boy allegedly was abused.

If convicted, Pope and Gardner both face up to life in prison.

The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office currently is working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Child Protective Services to terminate Pope’s parental rights. Leyton said the children’s biological father is in the area and it’s possible he may take custody.

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