AUGUSTA — A father on Tuesday admitted he shoved his 4-month-old daughter’s head into a cushion to stop her from crying last November.

That blow left swelling and some bruising, as well as an outline of finger marks, on the infant’s forehead.

Robert M. Phillips, 37, of Waterville, pleaded guilty in Kennebec County Superior Court to a charge of aggravated assault on his daughter Chloe.

Phillips was sentenced to seven years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended, and three years of probation. Conditions of probation prohibit him from unsupervised contact with children under 12.

The baby, now 7 months old, is being watched closely for any long-term effects of the assault, attorneys told Justice Nancy Mills.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Brad Grant, told the judge that Chloe, who has a twin sister, had awakened the night of Nov. 12, and Phillips took the crying baby downstairs. Grand said Phillips placed the baby on a cushion on a small couch or love seat, turned her on her stomach and twice pushed her head into the cushion, which had a wooden board underneath.

“Ultimately the child fell asleep,” Grant said.

Chloe’s mother, Brittney Young, saw the swelling and brought the baby to a local hospital. The child was later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland. She was released after several days, and Grant said so far there are no evident long-term problems as a result of the injury.

“There is some concern the development of the child may be delayed some,” he said.

Initially, Phillips told Waterville Police Detective Chris Paradis that Chloe fell from a couch. “It’s clear no one believed that at all,” Grant said. Shortly afterward, Phillips confessed.

Phillips, who has been jailed since his arrest on Nov. 14, told the judge Tuesday he had nothing to say.

However, his attorney, Pam Ames said, “He understands he will have a long row to hoe if he’s ever going to have contact with his children.”

Ames said the state Department of Health & Human Services had become involved in the case and placed both girls with their maternal grandmother.

“Everyone is watching this child,” Ames said.

Mills added conditions of probation that require Phillips to accept any pending or final orders of the Department of Health & Human Services and to undergo parenting classes to the satisfaction of his probation officer. He is banned from contact with his daughter unless his probation officer agrees to it.

Grant said the baby’s mother agreed with the sentence.

“The mother feels like a substantial jail sentence is necessary,” Grant said.

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: [email protected]