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Moorhead man accused of harming baby

A 30-year-old Moorhead man is accused in Clay County District Court of inflicting great bodily harm on an 8-month-old girl who is experiencing blindness from injuries she suffered earlier this month.

James David Leach, 682 Appletree Lane, faces one count of first-degree assault.

According to a court complaint:

Moorhead police were notified June 4 about an 8-month-old girl who was being treated at a local hospital for skull fractures.

The child's mother told police she left the girl with Leach, her boyfriend, when she went to work the morning of June 3.

Leach told police he placed the girl in a laundry basket while he cleaned clothes. He said he saw her stand up in the basket and fall backward onto the floor.

Leach said the child did not lose consciousness and only had a weak cry after the incident.

The couple took the baby to the hospital that night after the child had bouts of vomiting, the court complaint said.

At the hospital, the child's condition deteriorated and surgery revealed two significant skull fractures. The child survived the surgery but is experiencing blindness, the court complaint said.

A doctor told police the child's injuries could only have been caused by a serious fall, such as a drop from 10 feet or more onto concrete, or the intentional slamming of the girl's head against something hard.

According to the court complaint, investigators discovered that Leach had called an ask-a-nurse service the morning of June 3 to say he suffered a head injury when he slipped in the shower and he wanted to know what symptoms he should worry about.

About 30 minutes later, Leach called a different hospital to say a child had been injured, the complaint said.

Two people who were in the duplex next to Leach's on the morning of the incident told police they heard a sound they had never heard before, describing it as four to five loud thuds that sounded like a cupboard being slammed repeatedly, the complaint said.