JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A Jefferson County man is behind bars after he was accused of hitting a toddler multiple times and causing bruises.

Matthew Witherite, 26, of Brookville, is facing aggravated assault charges after the child’s mother discovered the bruises and accused him of causing them. Brookville Borough police were sent to Penn Highlands DuBois late at night on Monday, March 27 after an employee reported a 15-month-old with multiple bruises and body marks was in the emergency room.

According to court documents, the toddler’s mother brought the child to the hospital and told police she believed Witherite was responsible. The mother explained she dropped the child off at Witherite’s home along Madison Avenue in early March so Witherite and another woman could babysit for a few days while the mother worked.

Matthew Witherite, 26, of Brookville. Image provided by the Jefferson County Prison.

The mother claimed she first noticed some minor bruises on the toddler during a visit on March 14. She later discovered even more bruising on March 26 including a large bruise on the child’s bottom.

Police noted in court documents officers took multiple photos of the bruises that were seen on the child’s head, shoulders, waistline, legs and bottom.

According to the criminal complaint, the mother confronted Witherite and the woman about the bruises and Witherite allegedly told her he hit the child four times but didn’t think he hurt the toddler.

Police questioned Witherite about the bruises on Tuesday, March 28 at the Brookville police station. Witherite claimed the toddler had been with him and the woman for weeks as the mother started a new job and needed a babysitter.

When asked if he disciplined the child, Witherite said he would swat on the hand or pat the toddler’s bottom if the child did something wrong. Witherite told officers he did not hit the child “like a man” and that he is a “very patient person,” according to the criminal complaint.

Witherite claimed the bruising on the toddler’s bottom was from when the child tried to throw a toy and he just reacted and hit the child. He said he knew he had hit the child too hard after he saw the bruising the next day.

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Witherite was arraigned on Wednesday, March 29 and placed in the Jefferson County Prison where he’s being held on $200,000 bail. He’s charged with four counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person and harassment.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11.