A Hendersonville father charged with aggravated child abuse after an infant in his care suffered multiple rib and leg fractures in May entered a guilty plea last week in Sumner County Criminal Court.
Daniel Gordon, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of the lesser charge of Aggravated Child Abuse -Solicitation on Feb. 20. As part of the plea agreement Gordon will serve no more than one year in jail.
Gordon, who was an assistant professor at Lipscomb University, was charged May 8, 2019 after doctors at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital diagnosed a five-week-old female infant as having a minimum of five rib fractures as well as fractures to each femur.
According to a court affidavit, the infant had been seen earlier in the day by her pediatrician after Gordon said he felt and heard “a pop or something” while swaddling her. The pediatrician then referred the infant to Vanderbilt.
The affidavit also stated that Gordon said he knew he was responsible for injuring the child in an interview with a Sumner County Sheriff’s Office deputy on May 7.
“Mr. Gordon gave detailed information as to how the injuries had occurred and demonstrated how he ‘restrains’ the victim when she ‘fights’ him during diaper changes and during swaddling,” the deputy wrote.
Gordon was indicted by a Sumner grand jury in June on the two aggravated child abuse charges as well as an additional charge of aggravated child neglect. Aggravated child abuse is a Class A felony when the victim is under eight years of age. The sentence range for a Class A felony is 15 to 60 years in prison.
As part of a plea agreement reached Feb. 20, Gordon pleaded guilty to two counts of solicitation of aggravated child abuse and will serve six years for each count at 30 percent – meaning he will be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent or roughly four years of his sentence. The agreement places a one-year cap on the amount of jail time Gordon could receive.
“Effectively he did plead guilty to aggravated child abuse,” said Sumner County Assistant District Attorney Jenni Smith, noting the solicitation plea makes the offense a Class C felony rather than a Class A felony.
Gordon will be sentenced on July 10 by Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay.
Gay could sentence the Hendersonville father to up to a year in jail with the remainder of Gordon’s time to be served on community corrections, a stricter form of probation, according to Smith.
Gordon’s attorney John Pellegrin declined to comment for this article.
Gordon was an assistant professor of faith and science at Lipscomb University. The university suspended him following his arrest pending the outcome of his criminal case.
When contacted on Monday, a spokesperson for the university said that Gordon is no longer a Lipscomb employee.