Child beating - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Child beating

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fl (WFLX)---A Port St. Lucie couple is under arrest and charged with brutally abusing their adopted child.

Neighbor Dawn Sharbuno said, "Nothing surprises me in the world we live in. People are capable of doing just about anything."

Detectives say Beverly Watts and her husband Walter beat their 12-year old adopted son with a belt and an extension cord, and Walter stuffed a sock in his mouth and used blue tape to cover his mouth so neighbors wouldn't hear him screaming.

"What explanation did they give you?" Port St. Lucie Detective Stuart Klearman said, "Just that he's hard to control, he has behavior issues. He's manipulative. He likes to lie, he acts out a lot, disobedient....Certainly the number of welts on this kid that were healing, he was thrashed repeatedly."

Detective Klearman said, "You know you're doing wrong. You know you're making your child scream in severe pain. You're worried about somebody else hearing it and calling 911, so you take means to muffle his cries. That's just inexcusable."

The Watts adopted him 3 years ago and he had lived with them ever since.
Cheri Sheffer, DCF spokeswoman said, "We're always appalled when children are abused and neglected. It hurts worse when its an adoptive family."

Detective Klearman said, "They did admit using a belt on him. They denied using any kind of extension cord."

DCF says the couple passed a rigorous background check and completed all the steps needed in order to adopt children.

DCF says not only did the Watts have the 12 year old boy that they adopted living with them, but they also had two younger boys living there, ages 2 and 5, they were in the process of adopting.

The standard practice is for DCF to make monthly home visits..to check on the children..until the adoption is finalized.

"So if you were making home visits on a regular basis why didn't DCF uncover this problem?" DCF spokewoman said, "I can't speak to that specifically. I mean it seems on the face that, that we would've."

"Does it look like DCF dropped the ball in this case? It's way to early to tell. We're just several days into the investigation. So I wouldn't be able to speak to that at this point."

She told us DCF has removed all three children from the Watts home and all three are now safe. The Watts are free on bond. Police say if convicted of child abuse, they could face up to 5 years behind bars.

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