Shaken baby investigation ends without criminal charges

HONOLULU — No one will be charged in the violent shaking assault of a toddler that left him with a brain injury nearly three years ago, the Hawaii attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.

Child welfare investigators determined Peyton Valiente was likely injured at his day care, which was operated by the wife of a Honolulu police officer. His parents, Chelsea and Rey Valiente, believed that police connection was the reason no one was ever arrested in the January 2015 assault.

After Honolulu online news site Civil Beat detailed the family’s ordeal earlier this year, then-acting Chief Cary Okimoto said he had serious concerns and ordered an administrative investigation.

Police turned the criminal case over to the state.

“It was difficult to break the news to the parents … that our findings did not result in charges against a perpetrator,” Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. Despite multiple witnesses summoned to testify before a grand jury, a suspect couldn’t be identified, he said.

Okimoto apologized to the Valientes in March, saying he was disappointed the case didn’t move as quickly as it should have. Okimoto told the police commission that he personally looked into the case. Witnesses had already secured attorneys before detectives interviewed them, he said.

On Jan. 9, 2015, Chelsea Valiente said, she got a call from the baby sitter saying Peyton was having trouble waking up and had vomited earlier. His breathing was shallow, the woman told the mother.

Valiente, a nurse, told the baby sitter to call 911 and rushed over. When she arrived, “I saw him lying on the floor unresponsive, legs and arms stretched out and stiff,” she said in February.

Doctors found bleeding in Peyton’s brain, according to records provided by the Valientes.

Doctors told Valiente the only way Peyton could have suffered those kinds of injuries would be through forceful shaking. A doctor found finger-like bruising on Peyton’s back, so police and child-welfare services were called and the Valientes temporarily lost custody of Peyton.

“It was heartbreaking,” Chelsea Valiente said. “It was the worst feeling ever to have your custody as a parent taken away.”

A report by child-welfare investigators concluded the Valientes didn’t hurt Peyton and that it most likely happened in the baby sitter’s home. The state Department of Human Services then withdrew its petition for temporary foster custody.

Chelsea Valiente said Wednesday they were immediately ready to comment on the attorney general’s announcement. She and her husband planned to address the media later in the day from their lawyer’s office.

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