CLEVELAND (AP) — A video showing a woman harshly spanking her young daughter has emerged in a federal case alleging the woman and the girl were held captive for two years.
The video, provided Friday by the Ashland County prosecutor’s office, shows the woman smacking the child repeatedly on the backside. Another clip shows her hitting the child in the face and saying, “Shut up.”
The mentally disabled woman has claimed it was staged under duress, when she feared she or her daughter would be harmed.
Four people from Ashland, about 60 miles southwest of Cleveland, have been charged with enslaving the woman and her child, threatening her and beating her.
One, Dezerah Silsby, denied Thursday that she helped enslave the woman with her child and made her do housework. She pleaded not guilty, and a federal magistrate released her while she awaits trial.
The other suspects, Jordie Callahan, Jessica Hunt and Daniel J. “DJ” Brown, were jailed to await a bond hearing on Monday. The attorney for Hunt said she will plead not guilty. The attorneys for Callahan and Brown declined to comment.
Callahan’s mother, Becky Callahan, said that the allegations were “all lies.” She said the woman was friends with her son and Hunt, her son’s girlfriend, and they tried to help her by offering her a place to live.
The county prosecutor’s office has declined to comment.
Beginning in early 2011, the suspects forced the woman to cooperate with them by threats and physical abuse, federal prosecutors said.
The woman and her daughter, who’s 5, were freed in October after police investigated an abuse allegation one of the suspects made against her. Police first got involved when the woman was arrested on a candy bar shoplifting case and asked to be jailed because people had been mean to her.
Authorities say the video was presented last year to buttress the abuse allegation against the woman by suspects in the federal forced-labor case. They say the video, highlighted by Ashland police when the federal case was announced Tuesday, was staged by the suspects, who forced the woman to act as if she were mistreating her child.
The woman later pleaded guilty to child endangering and was sentenced in February to about five months in jail. She served only part of that sentence.
Her attorney told a judge during sentencing that two suspects encouraged her to abuse the child and threatened to go to police if she didn’t comply, the Ashland Times-Gazette reported last winter.
“It’s unlikely that, on her own, she would have done these horrible things to that child,” attorney Michael Sullivan said.
He said that the woman was responsible for harming the child but that it could have been worse if she had not complied, the newspaper reported.
Attorney Andrew Hyde, who represented one of the four defendants in state court before the charges were dismissed to clear the way for the federal case, said the woman concocted the enslavement claim to avoid the abuse allegations against her.
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