AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– “I knew that either on my own or with someone’s help my story was going to be shared to spread awareness… because this could have happened to anyone.”

Cara Partridge and her husband, Trey, were wrongly accused of child abuse in 2019. Tonight, the Augusta parents are finally getting the chance to tell their story.

And it starts with a rare genetic disorder known as “brittle bone” disease.

The clinical name is Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It is an inherited bone disease that is present at birth. A child born with OI may have soft bones that fracture easily, or are deformed. Other symptoms may include a curved spine, loose joints, muscle weakness and skin that bruises easily.

On August 14th, 2019 WJBF NewsChannel 6 and other local media outlets reported 33-year-old William (Trey) and 30-year-old Cara Partridge had been arrested for child cruelty. At the time, he was a Columbia County firefighter. She was a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office deputy jailer.

Nine months later, the Augusta Judicial Circuit dropped those charges. But the judging, and the stigma, aren’t so easily erased.

“My husband was watching Jaxon and he did accidentally drop our son as he was standing up.”

Baby Jaxon was less than one month old.

Cara says they took the baby to the hospital.

“And when we went to the hospital, that’s when everything went left. They noticed 5 other fractures that were healing at the time.”

At three weeks, Jaxon had already been to the pediatrician 7 times- and has spent the night in the hospital- twice- with feeding issues.

He was born with multiple health issues including malabsorption and Vitamin D deficiency. He’d had feeding tubes, seven different baby formulas, and was on several different medications.

“While we were in the hospital with him we just noticed there was already a stigma, a bias against us. The way we were being treated, the way we were being talked to. They just painted a picture of us as, ‘How can a 3-week-old break their leg cause he can’t walk, he can’t run?’ And we were just blamed for it. We didn’t do it and we had no reasoning, no answers, as to what caused them.”

Trey echoes his wife’s feelings.

“The moment it happened I just felt this aura of negativity kinda like painted over our faces and everything, people I talked to on a daily basis, not necessarily friends but some people I worked with, kind of shunned me in a sense because, I guess, they just automatically assumed I’m the one.”

Cara knew they needed answers and she took to social media.

“I started joining groups on Facebook about fractured families, people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, looking for professionals who would help us. We were willing to go anywhere in the United States.”

To their surprise, they found a doctor who was not only local, but had a child with OI.

“And she was very helpful to us. Once some of the doctors realized the pattern of certain things that could cause weakened bones, they immediately took him off of those medications.”

But another trip to the hospital, after Cara noticed Jaxon wasn’t moving his left hand to play with his toy, led to more suspicion.

“It was a second incident of unexplained fractures. The very first thing that was done to us was to try to turn us against each other. It made us stronger, it made us love each other and be closer cause we knew neither of us did anything.”

Two parents arrested, and their child removed from the home, despite the pages of medical records explaining Jaxon’s OI diagnosis and other issues.

Cara has medical reports going back to Jaxon’s diagnosis at three months, in the spring of 2019.

“Way before the time we were arrested in Augusta of 2019!”

Nine months later, after a thorough investigation, the Augusta District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges on May 6, 2020 due to medical information not being available at the time warrants were issued.

Cara says, “So one minute we couldn’t see our son at all, and in a split second, ‘Go get your son, go home.'”

Today, she carries a notebook with all of Jaxon’s medical reports, legal paperwork, and papers from her attorney… her armor, if anything else were to happen.

“We still live in fear everyday. My son does now run and jump and play, just like most boys at 3-years-old. I’m very overprotective- as is my husband- cause what if he trips and falls and something breaks again? And I have to take him to the hospital? Does the nightmare start over? Everyday I have to live with, ‘Who’s going to recognize me out in the open?'”

Cara and Trey have new jobs now. 3-year-old Jaxon is thriving. And the Partridge family is getting back to what feels like a normal life.

See the full interview with the Partridges here.

You can see the Partridges tell their story Tuesday at 12:30, on Jennie.