Boy, 3, who died in Kenny Bartley’s care was physically abused, documents say

Beckett Podominick (source: Matthew Podominick)
Beckett Podominick (source: Matthew Podominick)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The 3-year-old boy who died in the care of Campbell County school shooter Kenny Bartley had been physically abused, according to newly obtained documents which do not name Bartley or any other person as the alleged abuser. The boy’s father has now written to the governors of Tennessee and Virginia, asking them to step in to find justice for his son.

The cause of Beckett Podominick’s death was “undetermined,” according to the Virginia Medical Examiner’s office, who said he suffered from blunt head trauma.

Web Extra: Matthew Podominck’s letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe | Matthew Podominick’s letter to Gov. Bill Haslam

Kenneth Bartley (Source: Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office)
Kenneth Bartley (Source: Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office)

Bartley was never charged in the boy’s death. At the time, Bartley was living with his former counselor Erin TePaske, Beckett’s mother. The court granted Bartley permission to live with her in Virginia after he pleaded guilty to domestic assault in an incident with his mother.

Extended coverage: Kenny Bartley

In his letter to Gov. Bill Haslam, Matthew Podominick says he “wasn’t aware that Bartley was living in the same home” as his son and he “would have never allowed this man in the home I rented for my son and his mother.”

Emergency crews were called to TePaske’s Vienna, Virginia, home last May about a boy with a head injury. Beckett Podominick was pronounced dead a few days later.

A report from the Department of Social Services says the boy suffered a skull fracture, bleeding and swelling of the brain. Bartley told officials Beckett was pulling on the back door handle when he fell backwards from the top of three stairs, hitting his head on the gravel and concrete surface.

Previous story: Boy, 3, dies at home of Kenny Bartley, Campbell County school shooter

A report from Inova Children’s Hospital found that while Beckett Podominick’s fatal injuries could have been caused by the fall as described, some features of his injuries, including certain wounds on his scalp and retinal hemorrhages, were not likely to have been caused by the fall as described.

Beckett Podominick (source: Matthew Podominick)
Beckett Podominick (source: Matthew Podominick)

In addition, the doctor conducting the report, Dr. William E. Hauda II, found several healing spinal injuries and a healing arm fracture. Correspondence with TePaske is included in the report, in which she said she contacted an orthopedist via the website JustAnswer.com who said the spinal injuries could have been caused by being strapped into a child safety seat too tightly. According to the report, Dr. Hauda was unable to find any evidence that the injuries could have been caused by a child safety seat.

Web Extra: Letter from Fairfax County, Virginia, Child Protective Services

The findings led Fairfax County, Virginia, Child Protective Services to determine in October there was strong evidence that Beckett had been physically abused by an unknown person, classifying the abuse as Serious/Level 1.

TePaske said in a statement to WATE 6 On Your Side she disputes these findings, as well as Matthew Podominick’s motives. She says she has had several independent medical experts review her son’s records and they all report that none his injuries were consistent with any form of child abuse.

I have had several independent medical experts review Beckett’s medical records, CT SCANS, X-Ray’s, and autopsy report. They all report no injuries consistent with any form of child abuse. These are unbiased, professionals with specific training to identify injuries of any kind to the body. The doctor that CPS used to review Beckett’s medical records was a biased, emergency room doctor, who works for CPS and is affiliated with the Fairfax Police Department. CPS can make whatever determination they wish. I have fought this finding all the way up to the very top of the agency and they will not change their finding, no matter how much evidence to the contrary I present to counter their ruling of abuse. The reason they came to this conclusion in the first place, is because of all the media speculation that Kenneth was somehow involved, originally falsely reported to the media by Beckett’s father, Matthew Podominick, out of spite and anger. Vienna has to cover themselves for liability purposes due to all of the media scrutiny & attention brought to my son’s case.

The allegations of abuse were against Kenneth. But Kenneth was cleared and the allegations were found to be Unfounded against him. So CPS’s ruling of Abused Level One (Severe Abuse resulting in death) Abuser Unknown makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Which is why I fought it so adamantly. And still plan to pursue further action against their ruling. It is actually the first case ruling of its kind in Fairfax County, I was told. CPS never spoke with my son’s preschool teachers, or my parents who spent every weekend with him and were with him earlier at church the day of the accident, they did not speak to anyone who had regular daily or weekly contact with my son. Not even his babysitter who watched him 2-3 times a week, every single week. They contacted none of the parents of his little friends who had weekly play dates with my him, and they contacted no one else in my family who had regular contact with my son. That doesn’t seem like a very thorough CPS investigation to me. Beckett had just been to his pediatrician less than a week before his accident for his 3 year check up and the doctor said he was doing excellent.

Also, Beckett’s father, Matthew Podominick, by his own choice, had not been to see his son in almost 6 months until 4 days before Beckett’s birthday, which was in early May, just days before his accident. To make matters worse, Matt is only now bringing attention to this matter not for justice for his son, but because he is upset with me due to him thinking I had something to do with him getting in trouble at his work for misusing federal funding. He attempted to extort myself and my parents out money several times since Beckett’s passing. This is about money to Matt, not about any kind of justice for our son. The same child he had minimal contact with and hadn’t seen in months. And the same child he used his federal funding to pay his child support.

This is a huge mess, that never should have gotten to this point. I feel like everyone has lost sight that my child died. This isn’t about Kenneth Bartley murdering or abusing my son. This is about every parent’s worst nightmare, they leave the house for twenty minutes to go on a walk and their child has a horrific accident in a matter of seconds that was unavoidable. This has been utterly devastating for my family…

…I still believe 100% that it was a horrific accident. Kenneth was nothing but kind and attentive to my son while he lived in my home.

Matthew Podominick also issued a statement.

I can not explain the amount of emotional heartache and pain I feel, no father should have to go though this.The recent report from child protective services portrays a clear picture of what happened to my son, is beyond devastating and shows and who is responsible (Kenny Bartley). I will continue to speak on behalf of my son in order to seek justice for Beckett.

Podominick said in his letter to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe he wants to know why there have been no advancements in the case. The Vienna Police Department said the case is still active, however, there aren’t any new updates.

Bartley’s attorney Greg Isaacs said he could not comment on the case. Bartley’s father says his son did nothing wrong and is still living in Virginia.

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