Father Accused of Smacking and Suffocating 9-Year-Old Son For Talking Back During Chores
FlaglerLive | April 15, 2016
The child, a 9 year old boy, had bruising to the right side of his face, around the eye, to the lower jaw bone and behind his right ear. He had two older injuries to the face. Someone at Wadsworth Elementary detected the telltale signs of abuse and, as required by law, alerted authorities.
The father, Joshua Stevens, 31, a resident of Prospect Lane in Palm Coast, is at the Flagler County jail on $10,000 bond, facing a felony child abuse charge and allegations that he brutalized the boy and allegedly tried to asphyxiate him on Tuesday (April 12) for talking back. (Sunday update: Stevens had bonded out by the weekend.)
A Department of Children and Families official showed up at Wadsworth the morning of April 13 and the child was taken to the Child Protection Team’s office in Daytona Beach for a forensic interview and medical examination, and where the protection team also conducted an interview with the child’s mother.
The mother told interviewers that the evening of the alleged incident she had taken her 5-year-old son to T-Ball practice. When she returned, the 9 year old was crying. She asked her husband what had happened. Stevens said their son was “talking back to him and went to pop him on the mouth,” according to Stevens’s arrest report. “When he did that the child turned and he struck him on the side of his face.” Stevens said he struck the child just once. The child had been doing his chores.
At the time, the child’s mother told child protection officials that she had not noticed any bruising on her child’s face–but apparently did so the following morning and thought about not taking him to school “because of this.”
The child told the protection team a somewhat different story: that he was doing his chores, mopping the floor, when his father told him to make the floor “sparkle.” The child told his father he needed material to make the floor sparkle. Then, allegedly, Stevens struck his child in the face five times and told him to stop talking back.
The child then said, according to Stevens’s arrest report, “that his father put his hand over [his] nose and mouth attempting to ‘suffocate’ him. He [said] one hand was cupped over the mouth and nose and the other was behind his head squeezing it. The child [said] that he is fearful of his father.”
Child abuse is a third-degree felony. Stevens, who remains in jail Friday evening, also faces a no-contact order regarding his son, which means he may not be in the same house (he has to remain at least 500 feet away), may not contact him verbally or electronically and may not even communicate with him through a third person. Stevens’s arraignment before Circuit Judge Matthew Foxman is scheduled for May 9.