NORTH LOGAN — Four adults were charged Wednesday with physically abusing a 7-year-old boy.
Merritt Smith, 31, Cindy Bullock, 33, Bonnie Third, 53, and Quinton James Smith, 31, were each charged in 1st District Court with child abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injury, a second-degree felony. Merritt Smith and Bullock were also charged with retaliation against a victim, a third-degree felony.
On March 26, the North Park Police Department received a call from the Division of Child and Family Services for assistance in a child abuse report they had received from a local school. A detective met with the victim, a 7-year-old boy, and observed bruises on his body, according to North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes.
The detective went to the boy's home and met with the adults who lived there. The adults told investigators they believe in corporal punishment and that the boy had been spanked, Hawkes said.
The Division of Child and Family Services developed a plan to provide counseling to the family, and the boy was allowed to remain home.
The next day, the boy returned to school and reported that he'd been placed in "home prison" because he had supposedly lied, Hawkes said. The detective then went to the school and met with the boy, and later made arrangements with the county attorney to have the child removed from the home.
"There were multiple bruises found on the backside of his thighs and varying levels of healing," Hawkes said. "So it showed that this was not just a single episode."
Hawkes said the boy described his punishment as a "whipping tunnel."2 comments on this story
"The adults would have him crawl along the floor between their legs and they would repeatedly slap him on the backside. He would have to crawl through these legs repeated times as part of this punishment that they would go through. So we felt like it went beyond a normal spanking," the chief said.
The bruising also was indicative of an excessive amount of force in the discipline, he said.
Police saw the "home prison" as an act of retaliation against the boy after he initially reported his experiences. Police did not provide details of that form of punishment.
The boy is now in foster care, and the Division of Child and Family Services has assigned a case worker to the family.
Contributing: Paul Nelson
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