Abused child told police she thought her name was “Idiot”

No mercy.

The 4-year-old girl had deep purple bruises, a black eye, a swollen cheek and a mark on her forehead. She also had healing scars across her back, dried blood in the corner of her mouth and ligature marks on her wrist, authorities said. When a police officer asked her what her name was, she had a startling response: “Idiot.” Her mother’s live-in boyfriend, police said, regularly called the child “Idiot” instead of using her actual name. He also zip-tied the girl to her bed as a form of punishment, according to a police report.

Clarence Reed, 47, and the child’s mother, Jennifer Denen, 30, both of Hot Springs, Ark., are now charged with domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor and endangering welfare of a minor. Police received a call Friday from the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center, where a staff member told an officer that a malnourished 4-year-old had been abused in her home. Reed and Denen, who were at the center when police arrived, were later arrested.

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Denen told police that she had seen her boyfriend strike her daughter with a plastic bat and said she’d heard Reed frequently call the child “Idiot.” She admitted not seeking medical care for her daughter, the police report said. Reed told authorities that he hit the child. But instead of a plastic bat, he told police, he had used a half-inch-thick wooden paddle, according to the report. He also admitted zip-tying the child to punish her for climbing the kitchen cabinets. And although he said he had called the child “Idiot,” Reed told police he meant it as a joke.

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Cpl. Kirk Zaner, spokesman for the Hot Springs Police Department, told The Washington Post that a total of six children lived in the house, all of whom are Denen’s. One, an 11-month-old, is her only child with Reed. Zaner said the 4-year-old girl and the 11-month-old are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services. The four older siblings are with their biological father.

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