Parents, friend charged in baby’s abuse after bruising, fractures, burn discovered

Posted at 3:43 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 15:43:22-04

BLACKWELL, Okla. - Three people are charged with the abuse and neglect of three young Oklahoma children who are now in the care of DHS custody. The investigation began after a 12-month-old child was found to have extensive bruising around its face.

John and Tami Rohlin are charged with child neglect and failure to report child abuse. James "Bear" Pomerantz is charged with child abuse.

Police and DHS went to the Rohlin's home on a welfare check. While there, they discovered the baby's bruises.

All three kids were taken to a doctor to be examined. According to court documents, that's when they discovered the parents had cancelled or failed to show up to multiple necessary doctor's appointments for all three kids. One of the kids wasn't being treated for vision and heart complications from a genetic condition.

"[The kids] needed special care and they weren't following through with it," said Blackwell Police Detective Jay Brewer.

When doctors examined the baby, they also found a "skull fracture, rib fracture, and possible leg fracture," injuries police said healed untreated.

"Old injuries that had grown back," Brewer said.

Investigators said they believe the injuries came from Pomerantz, who was staying with the Rohlin family, and frequently watched the children. According to the affidavit, Pomerantz told a DHS worker "he does 'toss' the victim onto the couch but does not throw him."

Related: Grieving mother speaks out about death of 9-month-old baby, allegedly at the hands of baby's father

A massive burn on the baby's back was believed to be caused when Pomerantz "changed the bath water from cold to hot," the other children telling investigators "that is what caused the victim to cry really bad when he was in the bathtub and burned him."

"The mother tried to tell DHS and the patrol officer that was there that it was a birthmark," Brewer said, "but DHS obtained medical records that proved that wasn’t the case."

The affidavit stated the extensive bruising on the face was allegedly from when "Pomerantz plays 'chubby cheeks' with the victim, which is a game he plays with them when he pinches their cheeks." Pomerantz allegedly told DPS that he does play that game with the baby, "and has noticed that he was flinching the other night and he was concerned and asked the child's mom about it."

The parents denied knowledge of all of the injuries, but police said they could not and should not have been missed.

"The mom did tell DHS towards the end of her interview that she had talked to James about being rough with the kids," Brewer said, "whatever that means."

Nobody answered the door at the Rohlins' home.

Police are searching for Pomerantz, but because he's been known to be a squatter in several locations, they have not been able to locate him.