Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

PENN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A caregiver is charged with scalding a 5-year-old boy in her care in Penn Township.

Penn Township say the incident occurred in early March inside the child’s home on Saundra Drive in Level Green. The victim, a 5-year-old with spina bifida, was in the care of 25-year-old Tessa Marie Richards.

“A 5-year-old child suffering from spina bifidia was placed into a bathtub by a caretaker,” Penn Township Police Chief John Otto said. “Within 30 seconds to one minute, that child suffered from second- and potentially third-degree burns from the belly button to the toes.”

Richards, who worked as a trained caregiver for Care Unlimited, drew the child’s bath, telling investigators the water was warm when she put the little boy in the tub.

“While it is stated that she would have had that handle in a position of 95 degrees, we know the water in that hot water tank was between 135 and 140 degrees, and that is consistent with the type of severity of burns the child had on the lower extremities of his body,” Otto said. “It was immediately apparent that some burns had taken place. There was some skin from the child’s legs that had already been removed and fallen onto the bath tub.”

According to police, the child’s mother was at work at the time of the incident. A 6-month investigation into events resulted in Richards’ arrest Thursday.

“Our belief is her actions were intentional,” Otto said. “While she may not have intended to harm the child the way he was harmed, we believe she was responsible for the actions that took place that night.”

Care Unlimited did not return KDKA’s calls for a comment on whether or not Richards is still employed by them.

Richards remains free on $20,000 unsecured bond.

Watch & Listen LIVE