A Casper man has denied a felony charge alleging that he bit a toddler on the cheek.

Nickolas David Jones faces a single count of child abuse. He pleaded not guilty Thursday morning before District Judge Catherine Wilking, and he could spend up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Charging papers say the case was referred to the Casper Police Department on the afternoon of March 22 when the Department of Family Services requested law enforcement assistance in checking on three children belonging to Jones and his girlfriend.

The DFS employee told police that there had previously been in an incident involving the family in which someone held DFS agents against their will. An investigation had been commenced regarding a report of bruising and a bite mark on the face of one of the children.

The alleged victim is a boy who was one year old at the time of the report, according to the affidavit. Officers checked on the children and saw that the alleged victim had multiple bruises about his face, ears and neck, as well as a distinct bite mark on his left cheek.

Police did not believe the injuries were accidental, and officers determined that the bite mark was not consistent with reasonable corporal punishment. The three children were taken into protective custody.

That evening, one of the children participated in a forensic interview at the Children's Advocacy Project. The child reportedly made a number of allegations involving physical violence by Jones against herself and the other two children.

The child specifically mentioned Jones having bitten the alleged victim.

Jones, when interviewed by a detective, denied biting the alleged victim and claimed that the bruises were the result of his attempts at trying to teach the boy to ride a bike. The detective told Jones that the injuries did not appear to be consistent with falling from a bike at low speed, and mentioned that the child was a bit young to be riding a bike.

The bite mark was noticed by YMCA employees when Jones and the mother of the alleged victim dropped him off at the daycare before exercising on March 22. A number of YMCA staff members were contacted and were involved in documenting the injury.

Employees who were interviewed by police said that with so many people coming and going from the daycare area, it was believed that Jones and the mother grew suspicious that something was going on, so they picked up their children and left.

DFS agents had previously been at Jones's apartment on March 20 regarding allegations that another of the children had been malnourished.

Jones remains in custody on $10,000 bond for the felony charge. His defense attorney, Timothy Cotton, told Wilking on Thursday that Jones also faces separate misdemeanor charges including domestic battery, drug possession and interference. His misdemeanor bond was set at $2,500 and is consecutive to the felony bond.

Cotton also told Wilking that Jones has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Assistant District Attorney Trevor Schenk told Wilking that Jones was on probation in Tennessee in 2008 for felony reckless assault, and was convicted of aggravated assault in 2013. He said Jones has only been in Casper for a few years.

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