Polakoff arraigned, pleads not guilty

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, May 30, 2019
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Photo by Eleanor Guerrero
Nathan Samuel Polakoff was arraigned on two charges of assault on a minor under 36 months in Carbon County District Court.

Nathan Polakoff was arraigned by Judge Matthew Wald at Carbon County District Court in Red Lodge on charges of assault on a minor, May 22. 

He pled not guilty to both counts. He was charged with two separate counts of assault on a minor (a felony). On both counts, it is charged in court documents, that the alleged victim is under 36 months and the alleged offender is 18 years of age or older and that the defendant is alleged to have “purposely or knowingly inflicted bodily injury on EM…” 

For one charge, the possible sentence if convicted is a term in state prison of up to 20 years or up to $50,000 in fines or both. For a second conviction, the potential sentence is up to 40 years in state prison or up to $50,000 in fines or both. Carbon County Alex Nixon represented the State and Deborah Pranikoff represented the defendant. 

It is alleged that the events occurred “from April 17-19th” according to Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon. 

According to court documents, on or about April 17, in Roberts, Red Lodge Police Sergeant Matt Grieshop responded to a young child who was not breathing. When he approached the residence, “he observed an individual known to him as Nathan Polakoff…carrying a naked child. Grieshop noticed the child initially appeared lifeless. The defendant told Grieshop the child was not breathing.”

Court docs state, “When the child was laid on a blanket on the ground EM “appeared to be struggling to breathe, but was observed taking shallow breaths in approximately three-second intervals” and “appeared to be unable to cry or physically resist.”

When asked what happened by Grieshop according to court docs, Polakoff said he was in the shower with him and he stopped breathing. Grieshop noticed that both EM and defendant appeared to be dry.

According to the affidavit filed May 1, EM was taken to the Billings Beartooth Clinic. Grieshop was approached by Dr. Brad Fouts and informed that EM had sustained a skull fracture. RW, the mother “told Fouts she believed EM sustained the injury when EM rolled off a couch or futon falling approximately one foot onto a carpeted floor. Fouts indicated that a fall from that height would not have caused the injury.” It was noted that at the clinic, in court docs, that Grieshop heard someone say the child had been there the previous day to Emergency. 

The child was transported to Salt Lake City Utah. According to court docs, treating physician there, Dr. Antoinette Laskey said EM had two skull fractures believed to be the result of “two separate events” and that “the baby would have shown signs of injury almost immediately.” It was further stated, “Laskey reported that the injuries were consistent with child abuse, specifically blunt force trauma, and could not have been sustained from falling or being dropped to the ground…” In the Affidavit, Laskey reported the child had “retinal hemorrhages in both eyes in multiple layers of the retina. This is NOT consistent with a fall off the futon and is most consistent with an acceleration/deceleration of impact injury (physical abuse).”

According to court docs, the evening of April 17, RW reported placing EM on a futon in Defendants residence (in Red Lodge) while she and Defendant sat in a different room. RW indicated that Defendant went to check on EM after reportedly hearing “gurgling.” RW then heard a ‘thump’ followed by Defendant calling out that EM had thrown up. When RW entered the room she saw that EM had vomited. She also noticed a red mark on the side of EM’s head. It is alleged RW said Defendant claimed EM rolled off the futon an approximate six to twelve-inch drop.” The baby was taken to Beartooth Billings Clinic. 

On Friday, April 19, according to court docs, the baby continued to vomit. It is alleged, “RW said EM spit up on her and Defendant offered to clean the baby in the shower. After Defendant and EM entered the bathroom alone, Defendant called out that EM had stopped breathing. RW indicated that Defendant called 911.” 

“I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the events,” said Nixon. He noted the “defendant has been proactive in coming to court” so he felt it was not necessary to set bond. 

Judge Wald acknowledged the crowded courtroom stating, “I can speak to individuals with strong feelings” saying they’re “natural and normal.” He said he could not do anything but assure people the case will be investigated and if indicated, he will be prosecuted. He did want to admonish people, “The process has to go through as our Constitution demands.” 

Polakoff was ordered to wear a GPS monitor. He must make all court appearances, obey all laws, cannot leave the state without the Court’s permission, avoid all contact with or through third parties with alleged victims or witnesses; not possess or use alcohol or prohibited drugs, and not go anywhere where alcohol is the primary product sold. He has a curfew except for work and must maintain sufficient contact with his attorney. 

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The Carbon County News

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11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

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Phone: 406-446-2222

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