A Hot Springs, Arkansas couple has been arrested after allegedly abusing a child to such a degree that the 4-year-old thought her name was “Idiot.” The local Sentinel Record paper brought this little girl’s ordeal to public attention, and TIME later picked it up before the story went viral.
The girl’s mother, Jennifer Denen, reportedly knew her boyfriend, Clarence Reed, regularly struck the girl and did nothing to stop him. Police were alerted to the child’s plight and arrived on the scene to observe the girl’s bruises and ligature marks — the latter of which happened when Reed zip-tied the child to a bed. Reed later admitted to striking and tying the girl up after she tried to climb onto a countertop. Police reportedly observed many scars in various stages of healing, which would indicate a long-term pattern of abuse. In addition, the child was severely malnourished.
All of these details are harrowing enough, but a further gut punch arrives with the detail that this child told police her name was “Idiot.” One of the other children who live in the home (out of six total) confirmed that this was what Reed called the child. He claims this was simply a “joke” nickname.
Denen and Reed were both arrested and are currently in Garland County jail on $500,000 bond. They’re awaiting an August 23 court date, and the 4-year-old girl is now in state custody with the couple’s baby. Reed’s four older children are now living with their biological father.