The 4-year-old girl had deep purple bruises, a black eye, a swollen cheek and a mark on her forehead.
She also had healing scars across her back, dried blood in the corner of her mouth and ligature marks on her wrist, authorities said.
When a police officer asked her what her name was, she had a startling response: “Idiot.”
Her mother’s live-in boyfriend, police said, regularly called the child “Idiot” instead of using her actual name. He also zip-tied the girl to her bed as a form of punishment, according to a police report.
Clarence Reed, 47, and the child’s mother, Jennifer Denen, 30, both of Hot Springs, Ark., are now charged with domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor and endangering welfare of a minor.
Police received a call Friday from the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, where a staff member told an officer that a malnourished 4-year-old had been abused in her home.
Reed and Denen, who were at the center when police arrived, were later arrested.
Denen told police that she had seen her boyfriend strike her daughter with a plastic bat and said she’d heard Reed frequently call the child “Idiot.”
She admitted not seeking medical care for her daughter, the police report said.
Reed told authorities that he hit the child. But instead of a plastic bat, he told police, he had used a half-inch-thick wooden paddle, according to the report.
He also admitted zip-tying the child to punish her for climbing the kitchen cabinets.
And although he said he had called the child “Idiot,” Reed told police he meant it as a joke.
Cpl. Kirk Zaner, spokesman for the Hot Springs Police Department, told The Washington Post that a total of six children lived in the house, all of whom are Denen’s. One, an 11-month-old, is her only child with Reed.
Zaner said the 4-year-old girl and the 11-month-old are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services. The four older siblings are with their biological father.
In 2012, state and local child protective services received about 3.4 million reports of children being abused or neglected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of them, 78 percent, were victims of neglect; 18 percent suffered physical abuse, according to the CDC
About 80 percent of perpetrators were parents, the CDC said, while six percent were relatives other than parents. Four percent of perpetrators were the parents’ unmarried partners.
Child abuse is such an incredibly awful crime. Besides the physical abuse, there is emotional and mental abuse. The results of this abuse can last a lifetime even with good therapy and medication. My heart breaks for this child. I have seen child abuse close up and the scars it leaves. It used to be like battery and no one believed you and the abuse slowly broke you down. You grew up believing you were what you were told you were.
Putting a child into the system isn’t always an answer because the system often makes the problems worse. I hope that this little one has relatives who will be able to take her in and love her and raise her the way she deserves to be raised. People like this should not have children.