Everett man accused of abusing toddler to brink of death

Vashawn Basnight claimed he wasn’t alone with the girl for long. But police found holes in his story.

EVERETT — An Everett babysitter’s boyfriend was arrested Thursday for investigation of abusing an 18-month-old girl, sending her to Seattle Children’s Hospital for weeks with life-threatening head injuries and a series of seizures.

Detectives believe Vashawn Basnight, 34, of Everett, covered up the abuse with the help of his girlfriend. He has a child of his own, about the same age as the toddler girl, who has been taken out of the home by Child Protective Services, according to a police report filed in court Friday.

On the morning of Oct. 28, the toddler was singing, smiling and climbing on the couch before she got dropped off at a home in south Everett.

Hours later when her mom picked her up, the girl seemed lethargic, the report says. At home the child sat down on a training toilet and flopped forward, unable to support herself. Her mother looked closer and saw a large bruise starting to show on the girl’s left temple, and a red line along her neck.

Later at Swedish Mill Creek clinic, a CT scan revealed a subdural hematoma over her frontal and temporal lobes.

“It was noted that her neurological system was at risk of life-threatening failure,” Everett detective Maya Atkins wrote.

The girl was transferred to Harborview Medical Center, then Seattle Children’s, where she remained until Nov. 14. She just finished her therapy sessions earlier this week, and has been taking less and less medication for seizures, a condition she didn’t have before that day in October.

Atkins interviewed the babysitter months ago. She told police she had placed the girl on a couch, gone to use the bathroom and heard a thud. She suspected the girl had fallen onto a large plastic toy, but she was sitting upright and didn’t seem upset or badly hurt.

The detective spoke with Basnight, too, who denied caring for the girl at all except for one diaper change. He mentioned his partner had left for a bit to clean a karate business in south Everett — something the girlfriend neglected to mention.

Police obtained a warrant to search the content of the babysitter’s phone, and discovered texts from Basnight strongly suggesting that he’d been caring for the girl and his own toddler son for much of the day, while his girlfriend did the cleaning job in the afternoon. Around 3:15 p.m., he texted to say the toddler fell off the couch when he thought she was asleep, according to the court papers. He wrote that another kid had also hit the girl in the head with a book.

A doctor specializing in child abuse cases reviewed the girl’s medical records, and concluded the injuries — like the 20 tiny hemorrhages in her eyes — couldn’t have come from a fall off the couch. A subdural hemorrhage suggested she’d been shaken, and the bruising appeared to be caused by a blow to the head. The girl also had injuries to her neck and arms. The doctor reportedly could not come up with any other possible cause for burst blood vessels on the neck, except for strangling.

Police booked Basnight into jail Thursday.

An Everett District Court judge pro tem, David Ruzumna, found probable cause Friday to hold Basnight in jail on pending charges of first-degree assault of a child, second-degree criminal mistreatment of a child and making a false statement to a public servant. The judge set bail at $50,000.

Doctors believe the girl will be able to walk, but may suffer from long-term cognitive issues. The detective wrote the girl “would not be the same child that she would have been had she not been assaulted.”

Just after the girl was returned to her mother, looking weak and tired, Basnight wrote in a text that he thought maybe the child had caught a cold or some other bug, according to the report. In another text, he wrote that the girl bruised easily. He also wrote that he should’ve never left the child’s side. And he added that he hated people who abuse children.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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