A North Carolina couple has been charged with felony child abuse for allegedly beating, biting and neglecting their children.
On Dec. 12, 24-year-old Natasha Shaniece Forrest and 27-year-old Tevin Deangelo McDonald were charged with intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury. They were accused of harming two of their three children between January 2015 and September 2017, The Fayetteville Observer reports.
Both Forrest and McDonald allegedly beat their children with belts and extension cords at their home in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Forrest has been accused of biting her children, leaving permanent scars on their bodies. She has been charged with two additional counts intentional child abuse causing serious bodily injury.
The children are ages 4 and 6.
The probable cause affidavit noted that both of the children were malnourished and showed signs of psychological scarring. The warrant said that their treatment had induced "mental and emotional long-term consequences as a result of ongoing abuse."
The defendants both had prior convictions. In 2012, McDonald was charged with second-degree kidnapping and robbery. In 2013, Forrest was convicted of child abuse in a different county and received a suspended sentence. Her probation has since expired and will not impact current proceedings.
On Dec. 14, the couple made their first appearance in court. An emotional McDonald urged the judge to release him, asserting he regretted his actions. He stated that he had realized he disciplined the children too roughly and had personally called the Department of Social Services to remove the children from the home, KTRK reports.
Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West argued that McDonald's participation in the abuse had occurred for roughly two years. He requested that the judge increase bail for both defendants. McDonald's bail was originally set at $100,000 while Forrest's was set at $250,000.
"It is very concerning, that's one reason why we asked for a bond increase because there's a history there," West said of the couple's past convictions. "These children are alleged to have been abused on two different occasions in two different counties. And that can't be tolerated with our children here in Cumberland County."
The judge set their bail at $500,000.
Forrest repeatedly asked the judge to order news cameramen out of the courtroom, apparently agitated that the proceeding was being filmed.
The couple is currently being held in the county detention center.
Studies indicate that five children die of abuse every day in the U.S. More than 75 percent of those children are under 4 years old, according the American SPCC.