Dad and stepmom arrested for waterboarding 9-year-old girl

Local News

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – A couple has been arrested after 9-year-old told authorities they tie up her arms and pour water over her face as a form of discipline. 

Arresting documents show Joseph Maeser Mitchell, 29, and Ilaria Catherina Mitchell, 28, were arrested and charged with one count each of child abuse after police were called by The Department of Child and Family Services to help investigate a report of physical abuse. 

Detectives talked to the 9-year-old female victim at the Children Justice Center in Provo City where she told them her father and her stepmother have punished her on three separate occasions by putting a towel over her face and pouring water on it.

The girl went into detail saying they would take her to the bathroom and tie her hands behind her back, hold her down in the bathtub and place a towel over her face and pour water on it. She told police that when this happens she cannot breathe and it hurts.

The girl also said her stepmother has hit her with a closed fist in the nose, making her nose bleed. She continued to tell officers about other incidents resulting in her being hurt.

While at the hospital, marks were seen on her wrist that would be consistent with her hands being tied up.

The girl’s biological mother, who lives in Texas, reached out to tell ABC4 that Joseph Mitchell voluntarily gave up the girl to the state and she was immediately placed in foster care. The mother stated she is attempting to either regain custody of her daughter or have her family take her in. 

She stated her daughter was supposed to come and visit her over Christmas but that will now not happen.

Both of the suspects were arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail. While being searched at the jail, a credit card belonging to someone other than the couple was located in the wallet of Joseph Mitchell. He told police the card was in the name of his 7-year-old nephew who has an account under his wife’s name.

Joseph is also facing an additional charge of unlawful possession of a financial card. 

If you suspect child abuse or neglect is occurring, call the Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 855.323.3237.

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