- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - Chelsea and Rey Valiente thought it was a bonus that a woman they were paying to provide day care for their 17-month-old son was married to a Honolulu police officer.

“We thought safe, right?” Chelsea Valiente recalled. “We were trusting, initially.”

The Valientes now believe the baby sitter’s police connection is the reason there have been no arrests two years after their son Peyton was severely injured on his third day at the home day care.

After Honolulu online news site Civil Beat detailed the family’s ordeal, Acting police Chief Cary Okimoto told the police commission he has serious concerns about the case and ordered an administrative investigation.

The inquiry will determine whether investigative policies and procedures were followed, department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

“In the meantime, detectives are receiving additional training for child abuse cases, and the department’s procedures for handling felony cases involving young children are being reviewed,” she added.

The department is also awaiting a decision from the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office on whether it’s willing to reconsider prosecution in the case, Yu said.

“Police have not brought any new evidence to us,” said Chuck Parker, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office. He said previously there was not enough evidence to identify a single suspect based on what prosecutors received from police.

Okimoto is expected to provide commissioners with an update Wednesday.

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.

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.

Neither the baby sitter nor the officer could be reached for comment.

Peyton, now 3, is susceptible to seizures and it’s not clear what the lasting effect of his injuries will be, his mother said.

The Valientes work around each other’s schedules to make sure one of them is always home with him. “It’s hard to put our trust in any one person any more to care for Peyton,” Valiente said.

They no longer trust the police department, after discovering it took months before a detective interviewed the baby sitter and her children who were home at the time. The Valientes moved to avoid running into the family.

Police Commissioner Steve Levinson said he’s eager for Wednesday’s update.

“Among other things it was the appearance that the depth and seriousness of the investigation, such as it was, may have been affected by the fact that an interested person was married to a police officer … obviously concerned me,” Levinson said.

Valiente said no one from the department informed them the chief wants to take another look at the case. They didn’t know police commission meetings are open to the public.

“Obviously they would be welcome,” Levinson said. “And frankly, I hope they’re there.”

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