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Couple charged with abusing 7-year-old boy

March 10, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - A Charles Town woman and her boyfriend were charged Wednesday with child abuse after the woman's 7-year-old son told police he was shocked on the tongue, burned with a cigarette lighter, held under the water in a bathtub and forced to smoke two cigarettes, according to court records.

The boy's head was slammed into a wall and his ears were pulled and twisted until the backs of both ears bled, according to allegations in Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

The alleged abuse occurred at 309 W. Washington St., court records state.

Ronald E. Gray, 26, of 309 W. Washington St., was charged Wednesday with eight counts of child abuse with injury and child abuse with risk of death and five counts of malicious assault, records state.

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Crystal A. Ward, 30, of the same address, was charged with child abuse resulting in injury and child abuse creating a substantial risk of injury, according to court records.

Gray was being held in the Eastern Regional Jail Wednesday night on $250,000 bond and Ward was being held in the jail on $100,000 bond, a spokesman said.

Jefferson County Magistrate Gail Boober, who set the bond for the two defendants, said she was not sure Wednesday night whether the boy was in protective care.

Gray admitted to some of the acts and said they were done because the boy "would not tell the truth about various things or events," court records allege.

The situation was reported by the boy's grandmother, prompting an investigation by Charles Town Police Department Detective Mark Spessert and Cpl. M.H. Kerns on March 2, according to court records.

Spessert and Kerns met with the boy at his school and observed several injuries that were consistent with what the grandmother had reported, court records state.

The boy said his mother's boyfriend caused the injuries, court records allege.

On March 3, Spessert and Kerns returned to the school with a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources official.

In an interview, the boy said Gray was watching him and his brother on Feb. 25 while his mother was working.

The boy said his mother's boyfriend twisted and pulled his ears and hit him in the forehead and cheeks with a fist, records allege.

Gray also used an AC "wall adapter that converts from three volts to 12 volts" to shock his tongue, records allege. Gray admitted to "holding the electrical shocking device on (the boy's) tongue three times for three to four seconds each time," records allege.

The boy's tongue bled and lost sensitivity, records state.

Using a cigarette lighter, Gray held a flame to the boy's right index finger, causing a burn and a blister, court records allege.

The boy told police Gray attempted to drown him by holding his head under water in a bathtub.

The boy's brother was interviewed by police and said he overheard the incident in the bathroom, court records allege.

The boy said he heard his brother say, "I can't breathe," according to court records.

Ward told police that when her work shift was over on Feb. 25, she came home and later observed Gray pulling her son's ears and complaining that the boy was misbehaving, records allege.

Conviction on charges of child abuse resulting in injury, child abuse creating a substantial risk of injury and child abuse with risk of death carry a possible punishment of one to five years in jail, while conviction on a malicious assault charge carries a possible punishment of two to 10 years in jail, records state.

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