By Amanda Lee Myers
CINCINNATI: A girl beaten and tied to her bed, sometimes for weeks at a time, won freedom for herself and her siblings by emailing a teacher at her online school to plead for help, officials said Wednesday.
The email late last month led the teacher to call 911 and after an investigation involving police and children’s services authorities led to the arrests of the girl’s mother, grandmother and stepfather, police said.
The children all were beaten and tied to their beds, and the 44-year-old man arrested in the case also is charged with repeatedly raping his stepdaughters, ages 9 and 11, and abusing their 8-year-old brother, police said.
The girl and her siblings now are in foster care, attend a public school and seem to be doing well, said Scioto County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Hall, who didn’t know which of the two girls sent the email.
“I’m sure like most kids she trusted in her teacher that she would get her help,” Hall said. “We don’t know if the opportunity was there that maybe no adults were around. Or maybe she just had enough.”
The girl sent the email to her teacher at the Toledo-based Ohio Virtual Academy on Jan. 30, Hall said. She asked the teacher to call 911 because she and her siblings were being “tied to the beds and beat,” authorities said.
The children later told deputies that they were restrained with ropes and chains for weeks at a time, and only occasionally were untied to do schoolwork. They also described being forced to take their clothes off to be beaten with belts and paddles, and they had marks and scars to match their stories, Hall said.
A school administrator said she was proud of the teacher and the staff at the online school.
“We care deeply about the welfare and needs of all our students,” senior head of school Kristin Stewart said in a statement. “Our teachers are extraordinarily dedicated, highly trained, and have special relationships with their students.”
The children’s stepfather, originally from the Virgin Islands, has denied the accusations and wasn’t cooperating with investigators, Hall said. He’s the father of one child in the home, a 2-year-old girl, who was not believed to have been harmed.
The Associated Press is not naming the suspects to protect the children’s identities.