Category Archives: Physical Abuse

TX Woman Faces 5 To 99

.jpg photo of woman convicted of torture of Children
Sara Anne Woody, 25, is facing five to 99 years.

Woody found guilty on 16 counts of
Child Abuse

Wichita Falls, TX  –  The Burkburnett stepmother accused of child abuse and child torture was found guilty on 16 counts of injury to a child, including three first degree felony charges.

Sara Anne Woody, 25, is facing five to 99 years, or life in prison, after six men and six women determined she caused serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury for “engaging in pattern of child abuse and/or torture” with her two stepsons and her oldest daughter.

It took more than 11 hours of deliberations for the jury to reach its verdict, which was announced by 30th District Court Judge Bob Brotherton just after noon Wednesday.

In addition to the first degree felonies, jurors found Woody guilty on 10 total counts that included striking her oldest stepson on the lip with a metal spoon and on the shoulders and face with a tent pole.

The other three counts involved her younger stepson.  She was found guilty of striking him on the tooth with a metal spoon, holding a lighter under his tongue for lying and hitting his genitals with a belt for wetting the bed.

She was found not guilty on 10 counts of injury to a child.

The abuse came to light when the oldest stepson was taken to the United Regional Health Care System emergency room on March 30, 2016, with a severely bruised upper lip.

Despite being told by the boy and his father, Jonathan Darrell Woody, that the boy had fallen while roughhousing with his brothers, Dr. Jeremy Sautner told jurors about two weeks ago that he believed other signs were missing from an injury that was caused by a fall.

Sautner said the boy would have also injured his chin or nose, which would have hit the concrete also during a normal fall.  The bruising around the eyes was also alarming to the medical professional.

To a physician, Sautner said, it was the “classic definition of a red flag for child abuse.”  By law, he is a mandatory reporter of suspected abuse.  He filed a report with local law enforcement.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Woody’s defense attorney Reggie Wilson told jurors his client was a loving, Christian mother who “picked up these kids when no one else wanted them.”

“Those four children need and deserve a mother like Sara in their lives,” Wilson said, speaking of Woody’s four biological kids.  “…You’re the ones who can save these children from a life without their mother.”

Prosecuting attorney John Gillespie argued Tuesday that it was time for the jurors to “face evil” and believe that people like Woody exist in the world who will abuse children.

Gillespie said Woody only cried for herself and not her victims while on the stand.  The rest of her testimony, he said, felt “very rehearsed and she had an excuse for everything.”

The punishment phase of the trial began at Wednesday after lunch and is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Thursday. 

CA Man Charged With Child Abuse, Torture

.jpg photo of man charged with Child Abuse and Torture
Arthur Combs, 24

Stockton Girl, 7, Dies; Uncle Suspected Of Child Abuse, Torture

STOCKTON, CA  –  A young girl has died and her uncle is under arrest on suspicion of child abuse, authorities say.

Stockton police say officers responded to a home along the 10500 block of Hidden Grove Circle a little after 4 a.m. to investigate a medical call.  As they soon discovered, a 7-year-old girl had been rushed to the hospital.

The girl was later pronounced dead.  Authorities suspect the girl died from injuries sustained from being abused.

Officers have arrested the girl’s uncle, 24-year-old Arthur Combs. He’s facing charges of torture and child abuse resulting in death.

MD Woman Arrested For Abuse Of Toddler

.jpg photo of Mother arrested for Child Abuse
Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, 40

Prince Frederick Woman Arrested for
Child Abuse

Prince Frederick, MD  –  On August 10, 2017, police responded to a trailer on Hallowing Point Rd, in Prince Frederick, for a report of child abuse.

Detective Jernigam from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and a Child Protective Services Worker from the county responded to the trailer after they received complaints that a 3-year-old boy had visible marks on his body.  The complaints came from the child’s teachers at the Head Start program.

The child had marks on his chest, back, and legs that appeared to have been made by a thin cord of some type.  The child’s speech and language is delayed, and he was only able to indicate his mom was mad.

Police made contact with the child’s mother, identified as Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, 40, of Prince Frederick.

The Child Protective Services Worker explained they needed to speak with Calderon about the marks on he son’s arms, and Calderon stated that she hit him because she was angry because he “do a lot of things” and she “need to teach him”.  Calderon went on to say that she tries not to hit him because “he’s white and it leaves marks”, which she knows is a problem, and that sometimes she has to hit him so he will learn.

Calderon explained that she is having issues with potty training, destructive behavior, and that the only way she can keep him occupied is with a tablet.

Calderon was asked what she hit the child with, and she said it was a cord to a tablet because he chewed it and it broke.  The previous night, 8/9/2017, Calderon admitted to hitting him between 5-7 times but she was not exactly sure because she was so angry with him.  Calderon then explained that she usually uses a shoe to hit him, but she had the cord in her hand, which is why she used it.  Calderon said that it hurts her hand to spank him with her hand and gives her blood clots, so she uses a shoe.

The Child Protective Services Worker explained that she could not hit the child with cords and leave marks.  Calderon repeatedly indicated that she cannot control his behavior, citing examples of him urinating in a basket full of clean laundry, and on the blankets on her bed.  While speaking with Calderon, the child grabbed an empty water bottle, urinated inside it, and placed it on the floor near the front door.  Calderon made no attempts to stop this behavior, and rather indicated that it was another example of not being able to control him “because he’s 3”.

Police described the residence as “extremely unkempt, with old food on the floor, tables, chairs, and counters. Insects were visible flying around the residence, crawling on the counters and floors.  Ms. Calderon apologized for the mess and stated that it is Thursday which is her day to clean.”

The Child Protective Services Worker prepared a safety plan for Calderon, which was signed by both parties, indicating that she was not allowed to hit the child with any objects.  The plan also indicated that in-home services would be provided by CPS to assist Calderon with the child’s behavior and with cleaning her home so that it is sanitary.

Rocla Aceneth Tovar Calderon, was arrested and charged with assault, and child abuse, she posted a $10,000 bail and was released. Calderon has a preliminary court date on September 22, 2017, in Calvert District Court.

IN Kids Talk Combating Rise In Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Child Advocacy Center
Kids Talk advocacy center

Kids Talk empowers children who
might be abused

ANDERSON, IN  –  In the three years it’s been open, Kids Talk has helped change how child neglect and physical and sexual abuse cases in Madison County are investigated.

Kids Talk has been an invaluable resource for law enforcement.
Police Chief Jason Brizendine

Kids Talk is an advocacy center that conducts specialized forensic interviews when the Department of Child Services receives reports about children who might be at risk.  Since 2014, the agency has assisted more than 1,300 children.

“Not only did we want to be reactive” when the program began, said Becky Oldham, a manager and child advocate, “but a goal from the beginning was to get out in schools and work on prevention with kids.

“That’s been really important to us, and we were really excited to launch that last year,” she added.

Those school-based presentations have been effective in helping children distinguish good behavior from bad, according to follow-up surveys.

“After a program is presented, every child gets an option to say if they want to talk to somebody,” Oldham said.

“We had 125 DCS reports come out of those presentations countywide, and we had hundreds of reports where kids came forward about things such as self harm or friends being suicidal, and we were able to refer those to guidance counselors,” she added.

About 500 children received some kind of service as a result of the school presentations.

“We were able, I think, to head off a lot of things that would have gone a lot further, as far as sexual abuse is concerned,” she added.  “I think some children came forward when they were in the initial grooming phase, (which) did not go further because they were empowered by that presentation they heard.”

Elwood Police Chief Jason Brizendine said Kids Talk has been an invaluable resource for law enforcement.

“Police just didn’t know how to investigate certain things many years ago when I first started,” the chief said.  “Over the years, they’ve figured out that you need facilities like this who specialize in the interview techniques and how to deal with the children.”

“This is a service I do not ever want to see leave,” Brizendine said.

CA Mother Charged With Attempted Homicide

.jpg photo of Mother charged with attempted murder
Jasmine Lopez, 22

San Jacinto mother accused of  ‘serious and extensive’ Child Abuse

Riverside County, CA  –  A San Jacinto mother who sheriff’s officials say physically assaulted her 4-year-old son as a form of punishment was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide and felony child abuse.

“The … abuse was serious and extensive,” Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Duckett wrote in a news release.  No other details were provided.

The young victim and his 2-year-old sister were removed from the residence in the 400 block of Main Street, the release said.

Jasmine Lopez, 22, is in custody at the Larry Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. Bail has been set at $1 million.

Sheriff’s deputies got a tip Aug. 9 about possible child abuse and went to investigate.  Lopez was arrested Aug. 22 after investigators received forensic evidence from a medical exam of the children.

Sheriff’s officials encouraged anyone with information about this case or related incidents to call the Hemet station at 951-791-3400.