Prisoner faces child abuse charge

A former Oak Harbor man serving time for raping a child is accused of mistreating a toddler who suffered a brain injury, court documents state.

Prosecutors charged Gilbert Pena III in Island County Superior Court Aug. 14 with criminal mistreatment in the second degree.

Pena is currently incarcerated at McNeil Island Corrections Center in Steilacoom.

Chief Criminal Prosecutor Colleen Kenimond said prosecutors weren’t in a rush to charge Pena in the 2006 incident because he was in prison. Also, she said prosecutors wanted to see how permanent the girl’s injuries turned out to be.

At this point, Kenimond said it appears the girl is doing well.

Sue Quandt, a former detective with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, investigated the incident that occurred at a Clinton home in January of 2006.

The 23-month-old girl was admitted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a skull fracture and a subdural hematoma. Also, doctors found evidence of a previous possible brain bleed.

Because the injury appeared suspicious, a child abuse expert at the hospital assessed the case. She concluded that the brain hemorrhage was “consistent with either a contact injury or a shaking injury” and “extremely highly concerning” for possible child abuse, Quandt wrote.

Pena was living at the home with the girl and her mother. The report indicates that Pena was alone with the child when she suffered the injury, though neither he nor the girl’s mother could give an explanation as to how it happened.

If convicted, Pena would face from 13 to 17 months in prison under the standard sentencing range.

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