Kenneth R. Rush Guilty of Abuse

From the Joplin Globe:

A judge sent a former Newton County deputy to prison Monday when he pleaded guilty to abuse of his infant daughter two years ago that resulted in her suffering a brain bleed.

Kenneth R. Rush, 53, of Joplin, pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to a Class D felony count of child abuse in a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.

Rush had been facing a Class B felony count of child abuse that could have drawn a sentence up to 15 years and would have required that he serve a mandatory minimum of five years. Under his plea agreement, he could be sentenced to no more than seven years and faced no mandatory minimum.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane accepted the plea agreement and assessed the defendant a seven-year term.

Police and emergency medical technicians were called Dec. 19, 2017, to Rush’s home regarding his 2-month-old baby’s respiratory distress. Joplin police initially believed the call to be strictly medical in nature and did not suspect child abuse. Emersyn Rush was believed to be suffering a seizure.

She was taken to Freeman Hospital West, where a brain bleed was detected, and she was transferred to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Doctors there discovered retinal hemorrhages too numerous to count in the girl’s eyes and interpreted them as indicative of abusive head trauma.

Police learned the following morning that abuse was suspected. An investigation was opened that led to the charge being filed two weeks later on the girl’s father.

Rush initially told investigators that nothing unusual had happened that might have caused her injuries while the girl was in his charge, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed with the charge. But he later began to offer various explanations, including that he had tripped and fallen while carrying her and that he had been tossing her in the air and catching her and bouncing her up and down while lying on a couch.

Rush was fired from his position as deputy when the Newton County sheriff learned he was under investigation before his arrest. He had been working for the Newton County Sheriff’s Department for a little less than a year at the time and had been a deputy in another county previously.