ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A St. Petersburg woman has been accused of abusing her two handicapped children who are bound by wheelchairs and are unable to talk.
Latasha Hatcher, 27, was arrested and charged on Thursday night with aggravated child abuse and child neglect after allegedly burning her 11-year-old boy on his arm and using a plastic coat hanger to assault her 5-year-old girl on her back.
St. Petersburg police spokesman Michael Puetz told CBS Tampa that authorities were sent to Hatcher’s residence at the request of child protection services, who received a notification from their tip line that the children could be in danger. Upon entering the residence, police found the 11-year-old son with a scalding burn mark on his left arm about two to three inches in circumference, Puetz said.
“We don’t know how the boy got the burn marks, but we believe she doused him with a hot liquid,” Puetz said of the wheelchair-bound boy.
Investigators would then find Hatcher’s 5-year-old daughter, who was sporting marks on her back that suggested she was whipped or struck. This was confirmed by at least one witness in the house at the time, telling police that Hatcher whipped her daughter with a plastic coat hanger.
Hatcher’s first appearance in court is to be made within 24 hours of her arrest. It is unknown what her bond is at this time. This isn’t the first time Hatcher has had a run-in with the law, also being arrested in February 2007 on an aggravated assault charge, according to police records.
Puetz acknowledged that both of the children have “mental issues.” He added that this kind of punishment is not totally unheard of in Pinellas County.
“We’ve seen other parents or guardians use hot irons or scalding liquids to discipline their children,” he said. “There’s just a lot of situations where we will see the cruel and torturous type of treatment toward children.”
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