LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Officers with the Lufkin Police Department arrested a 33-year-old woman for injury to a child after she allegedly spanked her 6-year-old daughter with a belt "5 or 6 times" because she returned home and found the little girl covered in ice cream.
Over the course of the investigation, an LPD detective learned that Rhiannon Melissa Brown, of Lufkin, had been involved in a similar incident in Montgomery County in November 2008. In that incident, she spanked the same daughter, who was then 2-year-old, with a Flip-flop hard enough to leave serious bruising.
During review of this case and talking with Investigator Gale Echols of the Montgomery County DA's Office, I learned that Brown had been arrested for the 2008 incident in January of this year, and furthermore, failed to complete all of CPS's latest requirements," Lt. Mike Shapaka of the Lufkin Police Department wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Brown was charged with injury a to a child/elderly person/or disabled with intent to cause bodily injury and booked into the Angelina County Jail Monday. She posted a bail of $35,000 and was released the next day.
According to the arrest affidavit, an LPD officer was dispatched to Brown's home in the 1300 block of Myrna on July 1, 2012 to do a welfare check on her children. The complainant, Brown's friend, told police that she had been babysitting when Brown told her if her daughter needed help changing her clothes, "not to worry about the bruises on her buttocks because they were not serious." As the friend was helping the girls get dressed, she noticed serious bruises on the 6-year-old girl's backside.
When the LPD officers talked to Brown, she allegedly told them that she had spanked her daughter "after an incident with ice cream that had left a mess." She also allegedly said the bruise on her daughter's ear was an accident and that it occurred when the child fell on the floor during the spanking.
The two LPD officers told Brown that they would need to check on the two children before they left. According to the arrest affidavit, Brown allegedly tried to close the door and told the officers they weren't allowed inside her house. After a discussion, Brown let the officers into her home, and one of the officers requested that the children be taken to the police department.
There, photos were taken of the girl's injuries, and she was found to have severe bruising on her lower back, her buttocks, and the backs of her thighs. Officers also found a mark on her neck near her ear. No obvious injuries were found on the victim's sister.
"When asked about the punishment Grace received on June 29, Brown replied that when she returned home that evening, she found Grace covered in ice cream," the arrest affidavit stated. "Because of the mess made, she picked up an Armani Exchange Belt and bent [her daughter] over the couch and continued to spank [her] until she would admit that she had made the mess."
Brown also said she didn't know for sure how many times she spanked her daughter, "but felt it was 5 or 6 times."
Child Protective Services was contacted, and the detective learned that in the previous incident with the Flip-flop, Brown had spanked her daughter because she accidentally dropped her mother's cell phone in the toilet. CPS got involved, and Brown was told not use spanking as a form of discipline in the future. In addition, she was told to attend all of the training and counseling sessions that would be required of her.
After consulting with the Angelina County District Attorney's Office, Shapaka sought an arrest warrant for Brown's arrest. It was issued on March 21.