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Pittsburgh man wanted in abuse of 3-year-old in West Newton

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Pittsburgh man accused of severely injuring a 3-year-old boy last year allegedly claimed he was the child's primary caregiver.

A warrant has been issued for Ryan Michael Sullivan, 28, on charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children.

Westmoreland County Detective Robert W. Weaver filed the charges with West Newton District Judge Charles M. Christner.

Sullivan's former girlfriend is charged with failing to protect the child at their West Newton home.

Christie Lee Kowalski, 28, was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

Detectives and West Newton police Chief Gary Indof investigated a report of suspected child abuse on April 8, 2013, according to an affidavit filed by Weaver.

Following an April 10 examination at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Dr. Jennifer Wolford wrote in a report that the boy's facial bruises were “nearly too numerous to count.” Additional bruises and two broken bones in a foot indicated “child abuse,” she said.

The foot injuries would have caused extreme pain and difficulty in walking, she said, and the head injuries were “likely to have detrimental effect on brain development.”

When asked about the injuries, the boy said he “was hit and said that Ryan did it,” Wolford said.

Kowalski said at the time that she worked nights and Sullivan cared for several children.

She told investigators that she had noticed more bruising on the boy in recent weeks and said that Sullivan had abused her as well.

During an interview in April, Sullivan gave several explanations for the boy's injuries and later offered different explanations, all of which were inconsistent with the doctor's findings, police said.

In August, a woman who had lived with the couple for a time told detectives that Kowalski slept all day and did not prevent Sullivan from abusing the boy.

Kowalski told detectives in February that she had been using drugs and did not properly care for her children at the time.

Westmoreland County Children's Bureau removed the boy from the home last year and placed him with relatives, according to the affidavit.

Kowalski is free on unsecured bond and faces a preliminary hearing on Monday before Christner.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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