Luke VanBerkom Pleads Not Guilty To Child Abuse Charges
A Sheridan man is accused of injuring two children while in Mills, and it's not the first time he's been in this situation.
Thirty-one year old Luke VanBerkom has pleaded not guilty to one charge of child abuse, and one charge of aggravated child abuse.
The Natrona County Sheriff's Office says in August, the mother of the two children reported they had been assaulted, while under VanBerkom's care.
One of the children said he and his younger brother were alone with VanBerkom and were picking up trash in their yard.
VanBerkom, who was drinking, was upset they weren't working fast enough, and took the boy inside and spanked him, and beat him..
The younger brother then went inside and when he back came out, he had a bloody nose, a red line across the bridge of his nose and a blistered hand.
In the interview, the younger child said VanBerkom hit him on one ear with an open hand and the other ear with a closed fist, all while holding the young boy's hand in water, later determined to be 137.5 degrees.
VanBerkom told sheriff's deputies in a phone interview that the younger brother had been swimming in a pool and began to walk inside.
VanBerkom told him to rinse off the mud, but the child slipped, and he caught him which resulted in cuts on both of them.
He rushed the child inside, turned on the hot water and held all of their hands under the faucet.
However, VanBerkom could not explain why only one of the child's hands was burned.
He told deputies he left the residence because of relationship issues with the children's mother.
He also said he had taken a drug used for treating alcohol withdrawal that can cause drowsiness, dizziness and other side effects.
Vanberkom is being held on $150,000 bond awaiting trial and could face up to five years in prison on the child abuse charge, and up to 25 years in prison on the aggravated child abuse charge if convicted.
He already has one child abuse conviction back in 2005, on his criminal record.