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Teacher on leave after arraignment on child abuse charges

Rebecca Jean Ferguson is accused of beating her six children

September 13, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --An Inwood, W.Va., woman is accused of beating her six children with broom handles, metal coat hangers, batons and belts over a number of years, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Rebecca Jean Ferguson, 39, of 33 Grubb Landing, was arraigned Saturday by Magistrate JoAnn Overington on six felony counts of child abuse causing injury, according to court records.

Ferguson, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Spring Mills Middle School, was released after bail was posted for a $300,000 bond, according to court records. A preliminary hearing in magistrate court was scheduled for Thursday.

Ferguson, who taught at Musselman High School last year, has been placed on paid administrative leave by Berkeley County Schools, Jaimee Borger, the school district's communications director, said Monday. Ferguson has been employed with the school system for four years, Borger said.

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In a series of interviews last week, the Ferguson's biological children, ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old, gave examples of how they had been struck numerous times by their mother, according to court records.

One of the children told a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources investigator that his mother grabbed him by the back of the head and shoved his head into a table, according to court records. The boy said she was angry that he did not finish his homework, according to court records.

A rug burn above the boy's left eye was caused by his mother allegedly shoving his face on the carpet at their home, according to court records.

The boy also had a 2 1/2-inch welt under his left armpit that extended toward his chest, according to court records.

The boy told authorities that his mother hit him with a belt, according to court records.

One of his sisters told West Virginia State Police Trooper W.R. Garrett that their mother abused her on a regular basis, and that the mistreatment "intensified" from ages 12 to 16, when she went to stay with her father, according to court records.

Ferguson's daughter indicated that she was severely beaten, on average, three times per week during that time, according to court records.

The father of one of Ferguson's children told police that his daughter overdosed on medication "as a way to deal with the physical abuse of her younger siblings," Garrett said in his complaint.

In a signed affidavit filed Monday in magistrate court, Ferguson indicated she had no income or dependents that she supported financially.

The affidavit is used to determine whether Ferguson is eligible for a public defender or court-appointed attorney.

Garrett indicated in his complaint filed in court Friday that Ferguson has joint custody of four of the children, according to court records.

A term of Ferguson's release on bond is that she have no contact with the victims in the case, according to court records.

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