FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Fort Wayne man who pleaded guilty in connection with the 2018 death of a toddler was recently under investigation by the Department of Child Services.
An Allen County prosecuting attorney presented this information at a bond hearing for Shane Patton Tuesday morning.
Shane A. Patton pleaded guilty to two counts of felony Neglect of a Dependent related to the January 2018 death of 2-year-old Jocelyn Belcher, in July.
That same month he was being investigated after a complaint was filed with DCS.
There are very few details on the circumstances surrounding the DCS investigation. The prosecutor told the judge that the reported abuse happened in Steuben County in mid-July.
The report accuses Shane Patton of abusing at least one child verbally, physically, and sexually. It is unclear which, if any, of those accusations were substantiated.
Baby Jocelyn was found unresponsive in a home in the 200 block of Butler street Jan. 27. According to court documents, Jocelyn’s mother, Crystal Belcher, found the toddler wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the crib. When Belcher pulled the blanket away, Jocelyn was blue and barely breathing.
The Allen County Coroner’s Office said she died from lack of oxygen due to compression of the neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Prior to Jocelyn’s death, Patton had been investigated by DCS for sexual abuse against a 4 year old girl. WANE 15 obtained a copy of the 2017 report.
According to the report, the girl told the caseworker that he “touched her private area.” When the girl refused to be examined, DCS closed the case citing a lack of evidence.
The report cites similar allegations made twice in 20-16 involving the same child.
Despite entering a guilty plea, Patton maintain his innocent in connection with the Jocelyn Belcher case. He told WANE 15’s Angelica Robinson that he was forced by a public defender to sign the plea deal. He plans to ask the judge to change his plea to ‘not guilty’ and go to trial.
The Allen County Public Defender’s office reiterated that Patton was not forced to sign it.
Patton was assigned a new public defender, Robert Gevers, who appeared alongside him in court, Tuesday morning. Gevers asked that Patton remain out on bond.
The court heard testimony from several witnesses, including one woman who said Patton told her he had plans to flee to Canada or Omaha after talking with a news reporter to tell his side of the story.
A judge denied the request to release Patton on bond because she believes he is a flight risk.
A sentencing hearing has been set for September 27. It remains unclear what will become of Patton’s request to change his plea to ‘not guilty.’
Patton had been on the run for several months after Jocelyn was found dead. He said he went into hiding because he feared he would go to jail for something he did not do.
He said he had been in communication with Belcher the entire time.
Belcher pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect. She was sentenced to three years in prison.