A 4-year-old girl was so often referred to as an “idiot” that she believed that was her name when taken into state custody after she was found battered, bruised and zip-tied in her Arkansas home, authorities said.
The horrific abuse was allegedly at the hands of her mother and the woman's live-in boyfriend.
The child was taken to Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center on Friday with severe injuries that attracted the attention of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), according to an arrest affidavit by Hot Springs police.
A physical exam revealed deep purple bruising spread across the little girl’s buttocks, lower back and legs, a black eye, swollen right cheek, a bruise on her forehead, healing scars across her back and dried blood in the corner of her mouth, the report said.
She was also malnourished and had marks on her left wrist that indicated she had been restrained, police said.
Officers responding to the hospital said that when they asked the girl for her name, she responded, “idiot.”
Another child who lived at the house said the little girl had been tied up at the house and “that they called her ‘idiot’ rather than her name,” the affidavit said.
The girl’s mother, Jennifer Denen, 30, and her boyfriend Clarence Reed, were with the little girl at the center and were taken to the Hot Springs Police Department.
Denen allegedly told police that her boyfriend used a plastic bat to hit her 4-year-old daughter in the bottom, but Reed claimed he used a half-inch thick wooden battle to strike the child.
The pair allegedly acknowledged that Reed bound the little girl to her bed using zip-ties after she was found climbing in kitchen cabinets, with Denen telling police that she declined to seek medical care for her daughter’s injuries.
The 47-year-old man told police that Denen had used the zip-ties on her as well, the report said.
Both Denen and Reed said he has called the child an “idiot,” but allegedly told police it was just a joke.
The couple was charged with one count each of domestic battery in the first degree, permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree.
Reed and Denen face up to 32 years in prison if found guilty on all three counts.
They remain in custody at the Garland County Jail where they were held on $100,000 bond, records show.
Denen has five other children, one of whom is biologically Reed’s child, according to reports.
That child, an 11-month-old baby, and the 4-year-old girl are reportedly in the state’s custody. Denen’s four other children are with their biological father, the Associated Press wrote.
A spokeswoman for the DHS could not confirm or deny that a child or children were taken into state custody.
Reed and Denen are set to appear on September 27 in Garland County District Court.