STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) — A South St. Paul man has been charged with assault for breaking nearly all of an infant’s ribs after fighting with the baby’s mother.

Mark James Nelson, 32, was charged with first-degree assault in Washington County District Court on Monday.

The criminal complaint said Nelson, who was dating the mother of the 6-week-old from Forest Lake, picked up the infant and squeezed its torso until he heard cracking noises.

Doctors said 22 of the infant’s 24 ribs were broken and there were 37 separate fractures. Medical personnel at Hennepin County Medical Center also found bruising to the liver and lungs, all consistent with child abuse, according to the criminal complaint.

Nelson told investigators a fight with the infant’s mother made him upset and, “that’s when I squeezed (the baby) by mistake, I shouldn’t have done it.”

According to the criminal complaint, he said he stopped squeezing the baby because he heard something crack.

Nelson’s bail was set at $200,000 and he is currently being held in the Washington County Jail. If convicted, Nelson faces up to 20 years in prison.

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