TACOMA — Prosecutors have charged a 29-year-old woman with assault, saying she repeatedly put bleach into her daughter’s eyes and caused permanent vision loss in the right eye.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies arrested Jennifer Mothershead on Friday after a lengthy investigation. She pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault of a child Monday. Mothershead was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
Authorities say the 14-month-old girl was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in May after she sustained a serious head injury. The girl also had an eye infection. Doctors called the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department because they suspected the head injury was a result of abuse.
Mothershead told a detective her daughter started to have an eye issue in March after she’d been playing in a barn. Mothershead said the girl received antibiotics and eye drops. She didn’t provide an explanation for her daughter’s head injury and, according to the detective, didn’t show any emotion about her daughter’s injuries.
The detectives placed the girl into state protective custody.
Mothershead had brought the eye drops to the hospital, and a staff member later opened the drops and noticed a foul odor. Investigators sent the drops to the Food and Drug Administration’s Forensic Chemistry Lab for analysis. The lab determined the drops contained bleach.
“The staff at Harborview determined that the damage to the child’s eyes was consistent with repeated exposure to bleach, and ruled out any possibility that the eye dropper had been merely cleaned with bleach,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
The girl’s condition improved in the hospital, but doctors noted she’d lost vision in her right eye.
The girl now lives with her father.