HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Police in Arkansas made a heartbreaking discovery on Friday after being called to a Hot Springs home where a four-year-old girl had been so verbally and physically abused that she thought her name was “Idiot.”
Upon receiving a call from the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center on an abuse tip, they found the child bruised with a black eye and swollen cheek, and dried blood near her mouth. The girl also had bruising on her bottom and legs, as well as marks from being secured to furniture with zip ties.
When officers asked the girl asked the girl for her name, she responded, “Idiot.”
Police soon discovered that the child, who had been living with her mother Jennifer Denen, 30, and Denen’s live-in boyfriend, Clarence Reed, 47, had been regularly called an “idiot” by Reed instead of her birth name.
He also allegedly tied the girl to her bed as a form of punishment, including after he found her climbing on the cabinets.
The police report states that Reed acknowledged disciplining the child with a half-inch wooden paddle, and would call her “idiot,” but asserted that he was only joking in using the pejorative.
Denen acknowledged that she had not sought medical treatment for the girl.
Cpl. Kirk Zaner, a spokesman for the Hot Springs Police Department, told The Washington Post that six children lived in the house, including an 11-month-old that Denen and Reed conceived together.
Both Denen and Reed were arrested and charged with first-degree domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor, and first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. They remain in the Garland County Jail on $500,000 bond and have pleaded innocent to the charges.
According to Arkansas Online, a motion has been filed in Garland County District Court to block prosecution and law enforcement from releasing information about the case prior to trial. Denen and Reed are expected to appear in court on Sept. 27.
The children were all removed from the home and—except for the four-year-old and the 11-month old—were placed with their biological father. The girl and her infant half-sibling remain in the custody of Child Protective Services.
According to the organization Child Help, in 2014, the latest year on record, “state agencies identified an estimated 1,580 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect—between four and five children a day.” An estimated 702,000 abuse cases were confirmed in 2014 alone.
“The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations—losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect,” the organization states.