PEORIA, AZ - A Peoria couple is facing charges of child abuse for alleged punishments inflicted upon two of their four adopted children.
Peoria police responded to the family’s home on May 30 after Child Protective Services reported a possible case of child abuse.
Two of the girls, ages 13 and 11, were “extremely malnourished and emaciated,” according to court documents.
Two younger children, ages 8 and 7, were found to be healthy during examinations.
The girls’ mother reportedly described progressive punishments she used on the two girls, including a number of swats with a wooden paddle equal to their ages, swishing apple cider vinegar in their mouth and then swallowing it, memorizing Bible verses, running outside for 60 minutes straight and mopping the tile floor for 45 minutes and cleaning the grout for another 45.
There were various punishments for alleged lying or stealing.
The couple told police they felt their treatment of the girls was “justifiable and acceptable.”
The victims told CPS that the older girl was forced to live in the backyard naked for days using a bucket and brown plastic bag for a toilet and being allowed to use diapers only if she was “good.”
The 13-year-old even lost the privilege of having her hair and had it shaved off, the mother told police.
According to the report, when the girls were interviewed separately they confirmed that they would be forced to run on a concrete path beside the house where neighbors could not see them. They said the younger girl was allowed to wear shoes, while the older daughter had to run barefoot because she was in “deep prison” which was living outside 24/7 with only a tent for shelter. Prison food consisted of oatmeal, prunes or grits and salsa.
The victims’ mother told police she felt the progressive punishments were needed to address the lying and stealing.
According to the court documents, when pressed for details on the lying and stealing the mother came up with the example of a single breath mint that went missing on a recent trip to Colorado. She also suggested the older victim had stolen 22 items from a relative’s home during the trip but couldn’t name a single missing item.
The mother admitted the punishments began about five years ago about the time they were adopting all four girls.
Authorities said it was clear the two younger girls were favored by the parents.
The girls’ father confirmed virtually every detail provided by the girls, according to the court documents.
The mother told police her disciplinary actions were attempts to “train” the victims how to be “loving and nurturing.”
Police served a search warrant at the house where they found evidence to support the girls’ claims.
Reportedly every wall and cabinet in every room was covered with pieces of paper outlining chore lists, house rules and consequences for breaking them. There were notes that explained punishment the two victims stilled owed the parents.
According to court documents, the four girls had previously been removed from other abusive environments, only to be placed in foster care with the Peoria couple who eventually adopted them.
Both parents face child abuse charges.