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‘Started as a Joke’: Utah Couple Charged with Child Abuse After 11-Year-Old Shows Teacher Video of Younger Brothers Tied Up With Boxes on Their Heads


Local media reports on child abuse investigations in Utah

A woman and man in Utah are facing felony child abuse charges over alleged conduct that local law enforcement is at a loss to describe.

“It is a disturbing case,” Tooele Police Department Lieutenant Jeremy Hansen recently told Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV. “It’s not something we would generally run into or investigate. I can’t think of any cases that we’ve had like this over the course of my 15 years here so it is something that’s unique and it’s pretty egregious.”

Lori Carling, 36, was arrested late last week. Chad Andersen, 37, was arrested on Monday. According to Tooele County jail records reviewed by Law&Crime, both defendants stand accused of two counts of intentional or knowing child abuse with serious bodily injury.

Police said they waited on arresting the male suspect in order to obtain suitable living arrangements for the couple’s six children.

Hansen told the TV station that the case originally came to the attention of law enforcement after the couple’s 11-year-old son showed a video of his two younger brothers to a teacher. That video allegedly showed something strange and disturbing: two children with their hands tied behind their backs and boxes covering their heads.

“Had the child not gone to the principal, especially with video of the incident itself, who knows how much longer this would have gone on,” the lieutenant said.

Police were then called to the school.

“[H]e took the video because he gets angry that this is happening to his brothers and needed to show the video to someone to get help,” an affidavit obtained by Deseret News says. “He stated sometimes he felt like untying them and run[ning] away together.”

According to that court document, the boy told police that this form of alleged abuse had been occurring for the past two years. Most of the abuse was meted out by the stepmother, Carling, the boy said. But, he told police that his father was aware and coordinated the abuse as well.

“[Andersen] advised that he also came up with the idea along with Ms. Carling to use the boxes on the children,” the affidavit alleges. “He stated that it initially started as a joke and scare tactic, but then decided to actually use the boxes because nothing they did was working on the children.”

The reason for the punishment, the 11-year-old told police, was when his brothers were being loud in the morning. If they were, he said, the 8- and 5-year-old would be placed in “time out” for an entire day.

When police questioned the victims, one of them allegedly said he was forced to wear a smaller box on his head with a larger box on top “to make it a smaller space for them not to be able to move their heads inside at all.”

Officers reported finding burn marks on the boys’ chins which were believed to have been caused by friction from the cardboard repeatedly rubbing against their skin.

“The boxes appeared, (in) my opinion, way too small for the two victims to be able to get any airway inside,” one officer wrote.

Carling allegedly admitted to the forced box wearing abuse and said she considered it “a form of discipline.” The defendant allegedly said the boxes would be worn for two hours at a time and offered an example of forcing the boys to wear the boxes for two hours after breakfast and then another two hours after lunch. She allegedly said it had been going on for several months.

“The box thing is something we’ve never even heard of or come across,” Hansen added in comments to KUTV.

Police believe only two out of the six children in the house were being abused by the couple.

“He stated that a marble maze toy that rattles is placed on top of both boxes — one for each brother — and if they move at all, they have to tie one leg to their hands, leaving them with one leg (to stand on) for 30 minutes or more if they move or talk,” the affidavit says.

The arresting officer’s affidavit contains additional allegations:

I was advised that Mr. Andersen knew about the abuse the whole time and that he participated in more child abuse events. I was told that the two victim boys were also locked in their bedrooms during family gatherings. One family member stated that she asked Mr. Andersen on one occasion why the boys were locked in their bedrooms with a cord connected from one doorknob to another doorknob and she was told by Ms. Carling and Mr. Andersen that it was so the boys would not get out of their bedrooms because they had been bad.

According to the TPD, there was “a strong smell of urine from inside the boys’ bedroom.” Additionally, law enforcement claims, one of the children had been abused by being forced to stand out in the cold for 10 minutes before he was found “curled up on the ground wearing a short sleeve, pants and just socks.”

The two abused boys were taken into protective custody by the state last week when Carling was arrested, police said. The other four children were eventually placed with other relatives.

One relative told police that they had once seen the two boys sleeping on a wooden floor with no mattresses.

[image via screengrab/KUTV]

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