Bentleyville baby sitter charged with assaulting 2-year-old

February 7, 2014
Joshua Nathaniel Tannous

A 19-year-old Bentleyville man was arrested for allegedly attacking and seriously injuring a 2-year-old child he was baby-sitting in Belle Vernon.

Southwest Regional police said Joshua Nathaniel Tannous was charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and reckless endangerment in connection with the Tuesday incident.

Police said Tannous “violently attacked” the toddler while acting as a baby sitter, causing injuries including two broken collarbones, a broken shoulder blade and bruises and lacerations to the head and face. Police were notified of the suspected child abuse about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday by a physician from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Police learned Tannous was watching the girl at her home at 20 Johnston St., Belle Vernon.

Detective Stephen Schwartz and police Chief John Hartman talked to the girl’s father, Matthew Price, Thursday. Price told police that Tannous moved into his home in early January. Tannous agreed to watch the girl and her 6-month-old sister.

Price told the investigators Tannous watched the girls about a dozen times. When Price would return home, he would find Tannous high from smoking marijuana and residence smelling of marijuana smoke. Tannous also failed to change the children’s diapers, causing them to have rashes. He also failed to feed the girls and would often fall asleep.

The father told police his 2-year-old was twice injured while under Tannous’ care, including a laceration on her lip and bruising on her face. Tannous reportedly told Price the girl fell out of her crib but the father felt his daughter was slapped in the face, police said.

On Jan. 30, Price said he found a burn on the hand of his 6-month-old daughter. Tannous claimed the girl grabbed the heater while he was changing her diaper.

When Price arrived home Tuesday, the 2-year-old was screaming in her bedroom. The father found bruises on her face and a cut on her lip. He told police Tannous was drunk and incoherent.

On Wednesday, Tannous admitted to investigators he smoked marijuana nearly every time he agreed to speak baby-sit the girls. He also reportedly admitted to drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana while watching the 2-year-old Tuesday. He said he became angry and “lost control.” The girl was on her bedroom floor screaming when he went in, picked her up and shook her. He then “put her down on the bed hard.”

The report by the doctor at Children’s indicated the girl was violently injured because of abusive trauma she likened to a high-speed vehicle crash. Hartman said the girl continues to be evaluated at the hospital. Her long-term prognosis has not yet been determined.

Hartman said the investigation is continuing.

Tannous was arraigned Thursday night at Fayette County Night Court and remanded to the Fayette County Prison on $35,000 cash bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 14.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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