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Bad parenting is not necessarily a crime. But when it crosses the line into child abuse, crummy parenting can get you arrested and even sent to prison.
Child abuse is always cruel, but some parents find a way to take their cruelty to a higher, and more bizarre level.
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Police in Danvers, Massachusetts, responded to a local hotel on a tip from a man's sister that he was abusing the children of a woman he was living with. When police arrived, the man and his girlfriend were gone, but a 3-year-old child was in the room alone, according to The Salem News.
Among the injuries the child recounted when asked to explain the visible marks covering his body, the 3-year-old told police that 21-year-old Christopher Delcid put hot sauce in his mouth and then put tape over it.
Police arrested Delcid on suspicion of assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury -- which under Massachusetts law can carry a prison term of up to 15 years -- and child abandonment.
Police are also charging the child's mom with child abandonment and permitting injury to a child, which can be punished by up to two-and-a-half years in county jail.
Delcid's lawyer told a judge that, according to the child's mother, the boy has been diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder and has made false accusations of abuse in the past. The lawyer claims that the child's injuries were caused by falling off playground equipment and by slamming his head into walls and furniture.
But Delcid remains held on a $250,000 cash bail.
Even stranger is the story of a "branding" mom -- a Port Charlotte, Florida, woman who police say burned her two children with a hot stick after telling them she "forgot how much she loved fire."
The woman, 23-year-old Kayla Oxenham, told her children that she burned them so she could identify them as being hers, reported Fort Myers' WBBH-TV. Oxenham declined to talk to police about her children's burns; she is currently out of jail on bond.
Although Florida is one of a number of states that allow for corporal punishment by parents for disciplinary purposes, branding a child with a hot stick may run afoul of the law's provision that permissible physical discipline "does not result in harm to the child."
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.