[Saturday, Nov. 5, update: Victoria Moore has been arrested on a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery in the presence of a child. Find the latest here.]
Victoria Moore was hundreds of miles from Boise on Sunday when her phone rang.
She had to come home. Her son wasn’t safe.
Elijah, 2, was back in Boise with his father, Mikel E. Fraser II. But on the other end of the phone, Fraser’s sister said Fraser was looking for someone to hide him and the toddler while the boy’s face healed from bright purple bruises.
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“I immediately started screaming,” said Moore, 23, who was in Sacramento, Calif., visiting an old friend. “I had my boss and boyfriend call the police and go get my son, and I was on the first plane out back to Boise.”
Fraser, 27, was arrested Sunday and charged with felony injury to a child after, prosecutors say, he battered the child, landing the toddler in the hospital.
That’s where Elijah was when Moore first saw him.
“He had trauma to his liver and muscles and a fractured foot. He’s lucky that’s all. With how severe his injuries looked, it’s a miracle he’s alive,” Moore said.
She didn’t want another mother to find their child in the same position, so she spoke out in the loudest way she knew how — through Facebook.
“PLEASE SHARE. CHILD ABUSE IS NEVER OKAY,” she wrote on Monday, posting photos of Elijah’s still-bruised face alongside Fraser’s mugshot and tagging him in the post.
“Mikel is in jail because of what he did to MY baby. Nothing will ever make this okay.”
The post had been shared almost 600 times by Wednesday afternoon, surprising Moore. Commenters have shared prayers, heartbreak and outrage; some also made threats against Fraser.
“Maybe it’ll help other women in my position who are too scared to speak out,” Moore said. “They might see what happened to my boy and know they need to get out, too.”
Father denies the charge
Fraser remained in the Ada County Jail on Wednesday, held on $25,000 bond. A motion was filed Tuesday seeking to reduce that bond, which Fraser’s public defender said in court he could not pay.
Fraser told investigators that he’d been drinking and denied hitting the child, saying he found Elijah in that condition and was afraid to take him to the hospital because he feared he would be blamed.
According to online court records, Fraser appears to have no past criminal convictions. He was charged this February with misdemeanor domestic battery and destruction of a telecommunications line. Both charges were dismissed in May at the request of the prosecutor. The reason for the dismissal wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday.
During his Monday arraignment, a prosecutor said that Boise police officers found Fraser sitting outside a residence on Overland Road. Elijah was inside laying on a bed, the prosecutor said.
Officers said the boy had dark red bruising covering much of his face, and his eyes were swollen partially shut. He also had a possible bite mark on his elbow — on Facebook, Moore said it was from a beer bottle cap instead — bruising on his hands and he staggered when he tried to walk, the prosecutor said.
“There’s indications that it was (Fraser) who committed these injuries, and even he acknowledged that it seemed that was the case,” said the prosecutor.
At the felony level, injury to a child carries a possible sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.
The judge ordered that Fraser have no contact with either Elijah or Moore. Fraser also must abstain from drinking and avoid places that serve alcohol prior to his next court date, a Nov. 14 preliminary hearing.
Elijah was cared for at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital and has since been discharged, Moore wrote in response to questions on her Facebook page. The boy apparently hasn’t asked her about his injuries. “I don’t think he even realizes what happened,” Moore wrote.
Moore said both her children are now in foster care. The Department of Health and Welfare wouldn’t confirm that, and it’s unclear exactly why the children would have been placed in foster care.
Moore told the Statesman she and Fraser broke up five months ago. Before then, “I trusted him more than anyone. I never thought he would do this. Never.”
She said she’s been “highly grateful” for the outpouring of support on social media and hopes to let the judicial system take its course.
“I mainly wanted to spread awareness of child abuse. I don’t think people talk about it enough because it is such a sore subject,” Moore said.
“But it still happens, and a lot of women sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing happened. I’m not one of those women. He hurt my child, and I will not defend him or make excuses for him.”
If you need to report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Idaho Care Line at 211. Or, call Idaho Health and Welfare at 855-552-KIDS or 208-334-KIDS if you’re in the Treasure Valley.