When authorities saw the 4-year-old, she was laden with deep colored bruises, a black eye, a swollen cheek, and a mark on her forehead. Her back was riddled with scars, ligature marks covered her wrists, and blood crested in the corner of her mouth.
But even more startling was her response when police asked her name. “Idiot,” she responded.
On Friday, police in Hot Springs, Arkansas, arrested the mother’s boyfriend, Clarence Reed, 47, and the mother, Jennifer Denen, 30, after they arrived at the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center. Both adults were charged with domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor, and endangering welfare of a minor.
A staff member at the center called the police, reporting that a 4-year-old malnourished child had been abused.
As the police questioned Reed and Denen, a dark history was uncovered. Denen told police that she saw Reed strike her child with a plastic bat and frequently referred to her as “idiot.”
In a stunning admission, Reed said that he beat the child with a half-inch thick wooden paddle instead of a plastic bat, and only called the child “idiot” as a joke. He also told authorities that he zip tied the child to the bed as a form of punishment.
According to The Washington Post, who spoke with a spokesman for the police department, there were a total of six children living in the house. Reed and Denen were the parents to an 11-month-old, the rest of the children were from a previous relationship.
The 4-year-old and the 11-month-old are now in custody of the Department of Human Services, while the four older children are with their biological father, The Post reports.
According to the CDC, there were 702,000 victims of child abuse and neglect reported to child protective services in 2014. A study from 2012 shows that African-American children had the highest rate of victimization: per 1,000 children, 14.2 percent were African-Americans.