Speaker shares battle with Child Abuse at Champion for Children conference
ABILENE, Texas – An Abilene Christian University graduate stood in front of a room full of child abuse prevention professionals and detailed her battle with child abuse as part of her keynote address Friday.
Jennifer Sterling said she suffered with abuse for as long as she can remember. She said some of her earliest memories are of her mother yelling at her, her older brother molesting her and her father’s sickness.
Sterling was the keynote speaker for the 18th annual Champion for Children conference, where child care, child prevention and law enforcement professionals come together to train and discuss solutions for child abuse in the Big Country.
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald was among many city leaders present at the luncheon. He said there were 462 child abuse cases in 2016 in Taylor County. Taylor County Sheriff Detective John Graham said that number is high because of the number of cases being reported, not because of an increase in children being abused.
One of the biggest concerns for Sterling, who is a social worker in Fort Worth, is children who end up in situations like hers.
She said although a number of reports were filed on her behalf, she had denied all abuse when asked. Statistically Sterling said one in 10 children share their outcries.
“I always felt so completely ashamed of it and so responsible for it, I never told anyone,” Sterling said.
When Sterling was 17, her best friend’s parents took her in and she was able to break through her situation. Since then, she graduated from ACU with a graduate degree, and she and her husband have now been certified to become foster parents themselves.
Mom charged with Child Abuse as son, 4,
in critical condition
Detroit, MI – A 23-year-old mother was arrested and a warrant was being sought for her 34-year-old boyfriend after Battle Creek police alleged the woman’s son suffered neglect.
The 4-year-old boy, Maloyd Gaines, was reported in critical condition Thursday afternoon at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, according to Battle Creek police. The hospital said his condition was not available.
Detective Sgt. Troy Gilleylen said the boy was malnourished and kept locked in a room and had injuries over several parts of his body.
Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert issued a charge of second-degree child abuse against Megan Schug of Battle Creek Thursday morning and she was arraigned in the afternoon in Calhoun County District Court. Gilbert also issued a similar warrant for Isaac Miller, known as Mike, Schug’s boyfriend and father of one of her children. Battle Creek police were looking for him Thursday afternoon.
At the arraignment, Magistrate David Heiss said Schug faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge. He set bond at $20,000 cash and scheduled a preliminary examination for April 6.
Watching from the audience were Schug’s mother, Melissa Schug, and her sister, Morgan Schug.
Outside the courtroom both said they had no idea about the charges until they attended the arraignment.
“Nobody told me anything before I came to court,” Melissa Schug said. “Just that he was in serious condition. I don’t know what is going on.”
She often visits her daughter and takes her to buy food. She said her grandson is always happy when she sees him and she calls him “my little Sumo” because he was chunky as a baby.
“He is such a sweetie. He is a sweetie. He loves his Nanna and he loves his aunties. He is a good kid.”
Police said they believe the boy has a mental disability and said he doesn’t speak. Melissa Schug said her grandson doesn’t talk much around strangers “but my baby talks; he talks to me and he is happy.”
And he eats, she said.
“He loves vegetables. He is not good on peas but me and him would eat the heck out of spinach. We would mix it with eggs and eat the heck out of it.”
She last saw her grandson about two weeks ago and didn’t detect any problems. However, she admits she doesn’t like Miller.
“I just didn’t like him,” Schug said, “just the way he was. She said he was not abusive but I know he drank and I don’t like people who drink.”
She said Miller once said he had to be stern with the boy.
“He said he had to be strict because he is a boy and I said he is not putting his hands on my grandson and she promised me.”
Police said they believe that the child was sometimes locked in a closet but Melissa Schug said she never saw that happen.
Officers were called to Bronson Battle Creek at 6:18 p.m. Wednesday after the child was taken to the emergency room by LifeCare Ambulance.
Schug told officers her son had not been feeling well for a few days and she was unable to feed him cereal about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Police described the child’s condition as “severely dilapidated state of health” and Gilleylen said he had a low body temperature. The boy was transferred to Kalamazoo for treatment.
The boy had a round cut on his nose, large sores on his right side of his thigh and leg and substantial bruising to his toes on his left foot. Gilbert said he had injuries on his buttocks, back, feet, and head.
Police later went to the home in the 200 block of East Emmett Street and said they found questionable living conditions. Shug’s three daughters were taken to foster care homes by Child Protective Services, but Gilleylen said they appear to be in good health. Melissa Schug said Thursday afternoon she still is trying to find her granddaughters.
The case remains under investigation by the detective bureau.