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'Be so delicate:' Texts show mother knew father was abusing baby, deputies say

Records show infant suffered severe head, chest injuries

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Text messages show a mother knew her baby was being abused by the child's father but still allowed him to care for the infant, according to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said they found the texts after the 3-month-old daughter of Andrew Shelley and Melissa Burt was taken to a hospital in critical condition earlier this month suffering from broken ribs, a brain bleed, two skull fractures, a fractured femur and a fractured tibia.

Shelley is accused of causing the infant's injuries while Burt was at work.

Records show that days before the girl was hospitalized, Burt sent Shelley a text asking, "no bruises today, right?" and another one asking, "is her head, OK?" Deputies said in other messages, Burt told Shelley to "be gentle" and "be so delicate" and indicated that she wouldn't let friends and family see or photograph the baby because of her bruises.

Burt told deputies she knew Shelley had bruised the infant on at least two occasions and once caused redness around her mouth by "pushing the bottle into her mouth because she wouldn't eat," according to the report.

Deputies said Burt failed to protect the child from harm because she knew Shelley was abusive but she still let him watch the girl five days a week while she was at work.

Shelley was arrested Dec. 4 on charges of child neglect and four counts of aggravated child abuse. Burt was arrested Wednesday on a charge of child neglect with great bodily harm.


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