By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS - Steven Grant Williams admitted he left a handprint-shaped bruise on the butt of his girlfriend’s 7-year-old boy, and switched to using a belt because he thought it wouldn’t leave marks.
Steven Grant Williams
He described the bruises on the child’s elbows and elsewhere from when he held the boy’s head under the shower, trying to teach him to wash his own hair.
The boy would thrash around, “spaz out” and get so combative, sometimes Williams would simply let go, and the child would fall in the tub.
He knew it would hurt, Williams acknowledged, but he didn’t know what else to do during the shower sessions. The child smelled like feces, he said.
“I was concerned if I tried to hold on to him the same way, he could break his shoulder,” Williams said.
The Chehalis man and the child’s mother told the jury the first-grader didn’t know his alphabet, didn’t know his numbers and didn’t know how to clean himself. Since she was working and Williams wasn’t, Williams tried to teach him those things, during a two to three week visit last summer.
When the boy was returned to his paternal grandmother, who he lived with, she saw his bruises and took him directly to the hospital. A responding officer contacted Chehalis police and reported the 7-year-old boy’s body was covered in bruises.
After Williams’ arrest last August, Chehalis’s deputy police chief called it one of the most extensive child abuse cases he’d seen in his career.
The youngster’s two black eyes were so swollen, he had to open his eyes wide just to see, a social worker told the jury.
A bruise on his cheek: “He said that was when he got smacked silly,” the social worker said.
Williams told the jury the black eyes appeared about four days before the child left.
He didn’t know how it happened. One theory was it may have been a bug bite, or maybe an allergy, or he fell out of bed and hit the lamp, the mother Sarra Dennis said.
She saw it when she returned home from work one morning from a night shift at a casino.
“Most of his head was swelling, the top of it,” Dennis said.
The explanations came during a jury trial last week in Lewis County Superior Court.
Williams, now 40, was charged with assault of a child in the second-degree.
The jury learned that Williams didn’t know until almost the end of the visit that the child took baths, not showers.
“Did you ever think of giving (the child) a bath?” Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes asked him.
“No, not until this was all over with,” Williams answered.
It took the jury just 90 minutes late Friday afternoon to find the National Guardsman guilty as charged.
When he returns to the courtroom at the end of the month, Williams faces a standard sentencing range of two and a half to three and a half years, Hayes said today.
But because the jury found aggravating factors, he could potentially be sentenced to as long as 10 years, Hayes said.
No credible explanation for the injuries on the boy’s face and head were uncovered during the three-day trial, according to Hayes.
“We’ll never know all the things he did to that kid,” Hayes said. “I suspect there was a lot more going on.”
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on June 27.
Read “Chehalis National Guardsman charged with assault of 7-year-old boy” from Saturday Aug. 21, 2010, here
Read “Chehalis National Guardsman pleads not guilty to assaulting child” from Friday Aug. 27, 2010, here