Jesse Christensen

Jesse Christensen

A Lebanon man accused of assaulting his 5-week old son told police that he loves the infant but can’t resist the urge to cause him pain, that hurting the baby gave him a feeling of power and control, and that he would continue to hurt his son if given the opportunity, according to court paperwork.

Jesse Wayne Christensen, 19, was charged in Linn County Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon with first-degree criminal mistreatment and third-degree assault. The prosecution has filed a motion to seek an enhanced sentence in the case based on intentional cruelty and the vulnerability of the victim.

Judge Michael Wynhausen set bail at $25,000 in the case. “I have significant concerns about the safety of this child,” he said, adding that he worried that Christensen’s “sadistic tendencies” might not be limited to the infant. Since Christensen faces potential prison time, he also would be considered a flight risk, Wynhausen said.

Christensen briefly addressed the court concerning his security amount. “I am absolutely willing to do anything within my power to get this fixed and under control,” he said.

Defense attorney Tyler Reid had asked for a conditional release, noting that Christensen had no criminal history. Christensen’s mother said that her son would obey a no contact order as he doesn’t have transportation and will be staying far away from the baby.

“I have never seen him do anything like that, like what is alleged,” added Christensen’s mother, who declined to provide her name to a reporter after the court hearing.

Prosecutor Ani Yardumian responded that police had information that Christensen abused animals as a child.

The next hearing in the case is Dec. 9.

The Lebanon Police Department began its investigation of the case at about 8 p.m. on Sunday, after an emergency room nurse at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital contacted authorities, according to a probable cause affidavit in the case.

The nurse told police that Christensen admitted that he had assaulted his son, who was there for treatment for his injuries, the affidavit states.

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The crimes allegedly occurred on Thursday, and Christensen’s girlfriend, the mother of the baby, noticed bruising on the infant on Saturday.

When Christensen’s girlfriend was interviewed by police, she also said that Christensen admitted to hurting the child, and added that Christensen called the baby a derogatory slang term for “weakling.”

The baby was later taken to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for treatment and evaluation. He sustained non-life threatening injuries. However, pediatric specialists at the hospital were conducting multiple tests to ensure there were no other complications, according to a Lebanon Police Department news release.

Detectives don’t believe there are any other victims connected to the case at this time.

Those with information about the case should contact Lebanon Police Department Detective Chris Miner at 541-258-4314.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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