Children Visited By CPS At Home

Jeff Wiehe, News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), Jan. 18, 2007

A 6-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy who investigators say were severely abused by their pregnant mother and her boyfriend were visited by Child Protective Services at an apartment in the 2800 block of Millbrook Drive in the past.

“According to the local office, we do have priors with the family,” said CPS spokeswoman Susan Tielking.

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Juquita Pledger, 22, and Christopher Woods, 19, were arrested Tuesday in connection with abuse. Both appeared in court Wednesday for an initial hearing and are being held for three days while prosecutors continue to investigate the case. They are scheduled to appear in court again Monday.

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According to Allen Superior Court affidavits, Pledger said the girl got “under my skin” Monday night, so Pledger said she hit her with a broomstick. Then Woods tried to make her drink bleach from a mop, according to the affidavits. The adults bound the girl with duct tape, placed a strip over her mouth so she couldn’t scream, and whipped her with an electrical cord from the television, the affidavits said.

They also ordered her brother, who people from the neighborhood say she adored more than anything in the world, to hit her, the affidavits said. Later, Woods threatened to cut off her toe while he removed the duct tape. He also threatened to drown her while she sat in a bathtub of hot water.

Woods told investigators he believed in the Fourth Commandment, honor thy father and mother, the affidavits allege. He is not the father of either child. The girl was taken to a hospital after a teacher at Study Elementary School noticed her shivering in a classroom, the affidavits said. The teacher saw marks on the girl and noticed she had swollen hands. At a hospital, medical personnel removed the girl’s clothes and found lacerations over her back, shoulders and buttocks, the affidavits said.

Police called Pledger to the school, where she admitted the beating, a Fort Wayne Police Department report said. They also called Woods to the school and asked him to bring the boy. The boy was dressed in pants soiled with dried feces, the report said.

Investigators pulled gloves off the boy and found a third-degree burn on his hand. The boy said it came from Woods putting his hand on a stove burner, the police report said. According to the affidavits, Woods said it was a bruise from hitting the boy with a spatula.

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