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Two Lusby parents have been charged in connection with child abuse and child neglect of three of their four children for events that occurred between Nov. 28 and Dec. 17, 2013.

The 22-year-old mother in the case has been charged with one count of second-degree child abuse, one count of second-degree assault and three counts of neglect of a minor. The 27-year-old father has been charged with three counts of child neglect.

The Calvert Recorder is not identifying the parents in order to protect the identity of the victims.

Det. M. Fitzgerald with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to the case by the Calvert County Department of Social Services, according to court records. Fitzgerald learned DSS began investigating the case Dec. 20. A representative with DSS spoke with a 5-year-old girl in the school nurse’s office at her school. The child’s underwear reportedly had holes and feces in it, and the child was wearing dirty jeans. The school nurse and the DSS representative noticed extensive bruises on the child’s buttocks, according to court records. The child told the adults that her stepmother had spanked her. The adults put the girl into clean underwear but noticed the child had dirty feet, socks and hands, including under her fingernails. The girl told the adults her stepmother helps her with hair while bathing but that the child bathes the rest of her body.

The DSS representative then spoke with the girl’s 7-year-old brother, and the representative noticed the boy had his shoes on the wrong feet and was not wearing socks, his feet were dirty and his hair was messy, according to court records.

DSS then spoke with the children’s stepmother at her home, and she initially denied beating the girl. After the DSS representative presented the mother photos they had taken of the bruises on the 5-year-old girl, she admitted to spanking the girl five to eight times, court records state. The DSS representative asked the mother if she used drugs, and the mother said she did not. She refused to take a drug test, but later did a urine drug screen and allegedly tested positive for opiates, oxycodone and benzodiazepines. The mother stated she had taken a valium either Monday, Dec. 16, or Tuesday, Dec. 17, and during that time, she was caring for her four children. The mother could not recall if she had taken any medication when she had spanked the girl. She told DSS that she had anger issues and was often frustrated caring for the children, and that her husband, when he comes home, does not help much. She said she did not wash the 7-year-old boy because of his age and that his father showed him how, court records state.

On Dec. 26, Fitzgerald went to the residence and spoke with the mother, who told him she had been married to her husband since 2011. She told the detective she was the stepmother to three of the children and the mother of one. When he asked about discipline in the home, the mother said, “The problem was [the 5-year-old girl] stole everyone’s Christmas presents and unwrapped them, so I gave her a spanking … I guess, I really didn’t think I spanked her hard that day.” The mother told the detective she hit the girl eight to 12 times and admitted she went overboard with the beating, according to court records.

The investigator also asked her about how the girl was bathed, and she said she only washes the girl’s hair. The detective wrote in charging documents, “I asked her about only washing the hair of a 5-year-old, and [the mother] indicated she lets [the child] wash the rest. [The mother] then said, ‘I’ve never had a kid before.’ I reiterated to her that she has had these kids for approximately 3 years.”

When the detective spoke with the 5-year-old girl at her school in January, the child told the detective that someone had caused the bruises, that they hurt and that she was afraid to talk to the detective and DSS. The girl told the DSS representative that every time she gets in trouble, her mother beats her with a belt. While later speaking with the girl’s brother, investigators learned the boy and another child in the home would hold the 5-year-old girl down by her arms and legs while the mother used a belt to spank her. He could not remember how many times he “was helping Mommy” during the spankings.

Fitzgerald wrote that he and DSS made several attempts to talk to the father but was unsuccessful.

The mother is scheduled to face a trial March 13 in District Court. The father is scheduled to face a trial March 20.

rperry@somdnews.com