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Family spanked with child abuse charges

LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Four family members are facing child abuse charges for allegedly spanking their 7-year-old boy.
LOGAN, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Four family members are facing child abuse charges for allegedly spanking their 7-year-old boy.
The Cache County attorney filed second degree felony charges against the boy's mother, Cindy Bullock, Bonnie Third, Quinton James Smith and Merritt Smith.

The family is from Florida and recently moved to Logan.
In March, North Logan police were called to investigate allegations of child abuse after a teacher noticed the boy with bruises on his leg.
Wednesday prosecutors charged the four with a single count of child abuse, a second degree felony and retaliation against a witness (boy).
The family can't believe the charges.

"Shocked, stunned, upset all of that. I don't know,"says Bullock, the boy's mother. "I want to cry."

The seven-year old boy was removed from the home and Bullock is fighting to keep custody of her son.

"He's my baby," she says. "He is everything to me."

The family says there was one bruise on the child after the boy jumped down some steps and was hit by Bullock's boyfriend. They admit it was wrong but the grandmother says they're dealing with a child that has an attention deficit disorder. In fact Third says they tried calling social services seeking help for the boy.

"Oh absolutely we reached out," says Third. "We got nothing. We got absolutely nothing."

The Cache County attorney says felony charges were warranted.

"There's just not one injury but there are multiple bodily injuries," says James Swink, "(There's) bruising and in this fact, there are layers of bruising."

And Prosecutors say the family routinely engaged in a form of discipline called "whipping tunnel." Prosecutors say the child was forced to crawl between the legs of the four adults and each gave him a spanking. And because he was seven years old the boy had to go through the whipping tunnel seven times.

"It wasn't bad," says Third. "The quicker they crawled through, the less they got a whipping. (It was) just on their bottoms. It wasn't on their legs or anything."

But a child psychiatrist says any kind of spanking that ends in bruising isn't good for the child.

"I think it's important for parents to know that leaving marks of any kind on any part of a child's body that's abuse," says Dr. Douglas Goldsmith. "And that has serious consequences to children and it's going to make it hard for them to concentrate in school, it causes serious problems in peer relationships."

Third claims the "whipping tunnel" didn't cause any bruising and the stairs incident was the only time the boy had any bruises.
She says prosecutors are reaching on this one.

"The government steps in and says you can't whip child, that's reason why things are as bad as they are today," she says.

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