SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Deputies with the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office arrested a man and his sister-in-law on Wednesday in connection to allegations that he used a stick or tree branch to whip his 7-year-old niece hard enough to leave visible bruises on her face, buttocks, and thighs.
Nicholas John Speer, 32, and Lillie Catherine Fults, 25, both of San Augustine, are both still being held in the San Augustine County Jail. Both of them were charged with injury to a child, which is a state-jail felony. Speer was also charged with third-degree felony tampering with evidence, and Fults was also charged with third-degree felony tampering with a witness.
No bail information was available for either suspect.
"Child Protective Services, local law enforcement, and the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office take allegations of child abuse very seriously," said Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham of the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office. "If you injure a child, we are going to hold you accountable.
Cunningham said the SACSO was notified of a CPS investigation into an incident that occurred on Sept. 11. After the -year-old victim came home from school with "a bad color" on her report card, Speer allegedly used a stick to whip the little girl.
Cunningham said, Fultz, the child's mother, was charged with injury to a child because she did nothing to intercede or stop her brother-in-law from beating the girl.
The alleged beating left visible bruises on the little girl's face, buttocks, and thighs. However, injuries did not require hospitalization, Cunningham said.
During the course of the investigation in the allegations of child abuse, Speer admitted to spanking the little girl. However, he presented the investigators with a small switch and them that was what he used to spank the girl.
"There is absolutely no way that little switch could have caused those injuries," Cunningham said.
Cunningham said that was why Speer was charged with tampering with evidence. In addition, Fultz was charged with tampering with a witness because she allegedly coached the little girl in regard to what she wanted her to say to authorities about how she got the injuries.
However, when the 7-year-old girl talked to a forensic interviewer, she told the person that her uncle had "whupped" her with a stick because she was bad at school.