Tacoma man gets 16 1/2 years for causing severe injuries to newborn

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TACOMA — Joshua Sullivan, 19, of Tacoma, was sentenced Friday to 16 and a half years in prison for violently shaking his 7-day-old son and causing severe injuries that required emergency brain surgery.

Sullivan had pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to first-degree child assault.


Tacoma Police arrested 18-year-old Joshua Charles Paul Sullivan for child assault, after they believe he shook his newborn son so hard it caused brain damage.

shakenHis fiancée, Amanda Kassabaum, spoke outside her Hilltop home Tuesday.  She says about a week after her son, Joshua Jr., was born, she noticed something wasn’t right.

“I saw his left eye was swollen and I didn’t think anything about it.  I thought he scratched the inside of his eye,” said Kassabaum.

Doctors at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital say Joshua Jr. also had bruises on his cheekbone, arms, back and ear, and was bleeding from his lip.  When interviewed by police, Josh Sullivan admitted to shaking the baby during a late-night feeding when he was walking up and down the stairs, and suggested that the baby’s head hit the wall.

“There is no safe amount of shaking or rough handling of a baby,” said Amy Owens with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Owens is working to educate all new parents in Washington through the Prevention Advocacy and Outreach Program.

“The main goal is to encourage all the birthing hospitals in our state to implement a prevention program called the Period of Purple Crying,” said Owens.

Amanda Kassabaum’s son could have permanent brain damage from his injuries.

“They don’t know if he’s going to have any medical problems, be blind or deaf or anything, but I know I’ll be able to take care of him if they ever let me have him back,” said Kassabaum.

She says she will be in court Wednesday to support her fiancé, a man she doesn’t believe hurt her baby.

“I don’t think he did it.  I really don’t think he did it at all.  I love him to death but if I find out he did, he can rot,” said Kassabaum.

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  • shiela

    ive known this kid since he was like ten years old i dont want to believe he did this but if he did he will as i always told the kids pay for the actions that u cause i pray for josh jr i havent even got to see him yet the last time i saw josh and amanda she was pregnant at my granddaughters birthday party i am very concerned for both josh and the baby as he would be like a son to me and a grandson this boils down to babys having babys when they are not ready for the responsibility i wish more kids would think and use protection so things like this tragedy dont happen again

    • Oslavy Rios

      I don’t believe for one moment that he had anything to do with this, it was all her, she’s a manipulative bitch you can tell just by the faces she makes, he should get himself a lawyer and admit why he blamed himself, I’m pretty sure he’s regretting it pretty bad, time has passed and feelings change, maybe he did it out of love for her, how you can love a monster like that I don’t know, I’m positive she didn’t love him, she didn’t love her children, what can you expect? The baby is in heaven now, it’s time he gets his life back and it’s time she pays for what she did.

  • Kelly T

    If she stands by her so-called man they won't let her have the baby back. What an idiot.
    "When interviewed by police, Josh Sullivan admitted to shaking the baby during a late-night feeding when he was walking up and down the stairs, and suggested that the baby’s head hit the wall" F@#K this a-hole. Put him in a cell with a burly rapist.
    If she stands by him then I hope ONE of them is forced to be neutered!

  • Mark Beaman

    When he gets to prison, I hope that muscle-bound hardened criminals shake his eyeballs completely out of his head!

  • JoJo

    He admits to doing it to police yet the dumb woman thinks that he didn't do it, when the baby recovers he should be given to a better family if she stands up for 'her man'.

  • Chuck

    Its to a point where I think you need some kind of license, certificate or a mental evaluation to be a parent. FATHER OF THE YEAR MATERIAL IN THIS STORY

  • Rachel

    This woman is an idiot. I hope they don't let her have the kid back. He admitted to shaking the baby! Does it really matter what damage was done? Seriously it sad that trash like this is allowed to procreate.

  • guest

    This jerk deserves to hang., The sooner the better. We Yes I know about our governor laying aside the death penalty. Hopefully he will only serve one term.

  • jess

    To the women who knows him. It doesn’t come down to babies having babies. That is not an excuse, there is no excuse. I was 19 when I had my Son and my now husband was 20. NEVER would we have even thought to harm our child. Common sense is to put baby down and take a break when you get frustrated. To the mom of this baby, wake up honey. He admitted to shaking your child. He admitted to the baby’s head hitting the wall. That is a pretty violent shake. If you can’t accept that and move on and better yourself and life, you do not deserve that child back.

  • ShadowWalker59

    16 years??? That's it??? It sure takes some real man to get tough with a baby, doesn't it!!!! I'm afraid this guy should get AT LEAST…..double that. Why is our justice system so lenient on people anymore! Oh, I know, he's really a good boy, he just made a 'little' mistake, so we'll just forgive him, give him a couple of years and then, let him out and he will have learned his lesson!!! No, any moron who does this to a baby, isn't a man at all…….he's a damn coward!!

  • Kristinaw78

    On the Steve Wilkos show it was shown the mom of the baby was showing extreme reactions when asked questions about the assault so what is happening with that???? Have the police re opened the case and are they going to give the guy a lie detector test???? The guy sent a letter to his family stating how the mom actually did it. Yes he deserves some time if it is true what he put in the letter seeing it but not doing it but them egg donor should be in jail.

  • Suzette

    Just watched Steve Wilkos show and this poor little boy died in Sept. 2014. The mother shld be held responsible and shld be put in jail!!!!!!

  • LaileyButterfly

    I watched the Steve Wilkos show last week. That mom is a demon, an overall terrible excuse for a mother. The baby died from his injuries 9/24/14 that mom said she would visit the baby a week after the show. The baby’s foster mom said she never did. Rest in peace little angel

  • Brenda

    I think the mom done this. I watched the Steve Wilkos show in this story & just her attitude says alot about her. I don’t think the man should be the only one behind bars she also needs to be. She admitted to be on meth & she really can’t remember very much if your high. I hate people like this to mistreat innocent babies, or animals think fight back. She lied on her lie detector test so please put her in prison for life so she can’t hurt another innocent child. Damn her to hell for this.

    • TopChef

      For those people bashing the father, shame on you! This is how innocent people get punished, when others RUSH to conclusions without all the facts. Ok, he confessed. Ever think he was doing it to cover for the mom cause he loved her and didn’t want her to lose her other children. Sometimes young men can be coerced to do things or admit to things just for the women. Like when students have affairs with their teachers or kill their husbands for them. Bottom line: He’s part of the problem, but not to be locked up for life or hung. Don’t rush to conclusions without all the facts!

  • vicki

    Such a sad story all together, the ones I feel bad for is the baby and her other 2 children, and even if Josh confessed because he loved her and didn’t want to have the kids taken away from her well I think that’s the best thing that could of ever happened is all her kids taken away so even if that josh did not do it and Amanda did at least the state did something rite and removed the other 2 as well. RIP Joshua Jr.

  • Sbrnakiss

    This POS mother has a special ring in hell waiting for her. You should see her on The Steve Wilkos Show. I admit the show is pretty bad, but she is some piece of work.

  • Darla

    After watching the Steve show yesterday, It show the Mother had a lot to do with the baby abuse. She was young and couldn’t handle another baby. Her not caring or showing any care of any of the rest of her kids and trying to get them back.I feel the state should keep her children and adopt them out to a good family that will care and love them like they should be loved and cared for.. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE HER BACK HER CHILDREN. I pray to god they stay with caring ,loving people who will take care of them. Right now her life is a party..

  • Oslavy Rios

    Well it’s January 18, 2016 now, after seeing a Steve Wilkos show where the mother and the uncle came on the show, I’m positive this young man is not guilty, he was so stupid to admit to something he didn’t do, she is the guilty one I rest assured of this, after his brother Justin Sullivan showed a letter to Wilkos from his brother in prison where he says he took the blame for it because he didn’t want her to lose her other two children, it is late now for this innocent little angel he passed away in September 2014, I do hope and pray that someone out there helps this young man regain his freedom, it was a foolish thing he did taking the blame while in the mean time the real assassin is on the street doing whatever she wants, remember those that saw the documentary on the Steve Wilkos show don’t ever forget how she didn’t show any true maternal feelings, I don’t have children and I assure you it hurt me more, my best to the innocent man behind bars, may he soon be free and may she be the one to rot!!

  • Oslavy Rios

    I had already commented on this horrible tragedy, but I wanted to know if there’s anyone out there who knows Justin Sullivan, when I saw him on the show instantaneously I felt a profound feeling for him, this has never happened to me, so please anyone who might know him please give him my email address. oslavyrios@yahoo.com

    • Rufus

      This story sickens everyone and I am 43 years old I had my daughter at 17 and no help cause the father still wanted to go out and get some and I was worried when I found out I was pregnant and went to a councillor , because as a child I was sick or beaten from day one, and felt that because I was not shown love maybe I couldn’t show love but after 36 long hours stuck out on a road with two friends I went into labour, and it hurt but when she was born 2 weeks late and weighed 7’11 but coded blue at birth because of the cord that broke before she came out but she survived, and I saw love . And she was and is a beautiful young lady and her brother 20 now I raised both on my own and now my crazy bitch stepmother tells them that I was a terrible mother and I partied and drank and they believe her because from the time they were young they told me to spank my children like my father did to me, and if I wanted to I could tell them that she was a drug dealer hooker and slept with the man who never touched her child because even if I said I never did things I took the beating so my little brother or sister were not touched and I was beaten every other day so this is my moral of the story, ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN CAN BE A CYCLE FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION BUT EITHER THE MOTHER OR FATHER CAN AND SHOULD PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH THE BEATINGS YOU TOOK GET HELP BREAK THE CYCLE OR if your a young mom and scared of wtf you might do or the father ASK FOR HELP and honestly unless you people were there no one understands what the reasons behind this tragic loss but if anyone thought she or he were a threat to harm that child Then ask yourself why the baby was sent home with both of these kind of people, because the system fails children all the time but as the system it’s easy to say mean hateful things but think long and hard she was released and given her child and sent home and jr paid the price as adults we are the ones to say wait does she or he have past reasons and is she/he a danger? And as for the dipshit above this comment she seems like she a real winner saying that the brother touched her heart she seems like a groupie and needs help if she wants to get envolved in the mess with the brother after everything she wrote…???