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

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

  • 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