A 7-year-old alleged abuse victim had already been removed from her parents’ home earlier this year by Child Protective Services when her new caretaker was arrested last week on a child abuse charge.
The girl’s 64-year-old relative, Janice Stoever Odom, was arrested Monday, charged with 3rd degree felony injury to a child after a Thursday night incident. Odom, investigators say, repeatedly slapped the girl across the face, causing swelling, bruising and bleeding on the inside of her mouth.
The arrest occurred months after state investigators found reason to believe she was physically abused by her stepfather and mother.
Odom was entrusted with the girl’s care after CPS removed her and her two older sisters from their mother. However, Odom reportedly confessed the incident to a group of her coworkers that day at Weatherford College, where she is employed as a secretary, court documents state.
One coworker reportedly told police that Odom also said she choked the child once prior to Thanksgiving when she was trying to discipline her, according to court documents.
Two detectives with the Weatherford Police Department reportedly arrived at the woman’s apartment Friday afternoon and found Odom and the girl, who had distinctive bruising on the left side of her face, at home, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Odom admitted to hitting the girl, detectives wrote.
The Department of Family and Protective Services has removed the girl and her two sisters from the home and filed a child protection case in a Parker County Court-at-Law this week.
CPS has a 7-year history of allegations involving the girl and her sisters, detailed in recent filings.
In 2005, the department found reason to believe there was neglectful supervision of the girl’s then 2-year-old sister by the girls’ mother. She reportedly completed a family services plan that year.
In 2006, the department found reason to believe there was neglectful supervision by another adult in the family, and the mother reportedly successfully completed family preservation services.
Physical abuse and neglect allegations in 2010 were ruled out.
A 2011 case involving allegations of physical neglect of the girl’s older sister was reportedly closed because the school was monitoring the girl’s situation.
In late August, the department received a referral alleging physical abuse of the girl and one of her sisters by the children’s mother and stepfather.
During the investigation, CPS found that the then 6-year-old had significant bruising to the backs and sides of her legs and thighs that appeared to be due to a belt.
The girl told the investigator that she received the bruises from her stepfather because she did not clean the house.
The mother reportedly admitted to CPS over the phone that the bruising was caused by her and her husband because they spanked the child every day that week. However, she later denied having that conversation, did not bring the three sisters to the CPS office as requested and said the girl probably fell and bruised herself, a CPS investigator wrote.
The girls were placed with Odom and her husband, and the parents agreed to complete the family service plan in late October, according to filings by CPS. However, they had not begun as of Friday, court documents state.
Odom had been instructed not to physically discipline the child, according to CPS.
During an interview earlier in November, the 7-year-old reportedly told a CPS case worker that she was sometimes spanked with a spoon, but it didn’t leave marks or bruises. CPS told Odom that day that she needed to refrain from physical punishment, according to court documents.
During that conversation, Odom also asked that the CPS worker approve another family member for supervision of the children because she felt overwhelmed. However, she was told that family member had a history with CPS that they needed to review, CPS reported.
The girl reportedly told investigators that the Nov. 29 incident was the first time Odom had slapped her and that it was because she was “screaming a little bit.”
She was normally disciplined with a “back scratcher” that left her skin blue, red and black, the girl reportedly said.
Odom allegedly told coworkers that she kept the girl home Friday because of the apparent injuries and did so by convincing the girl that she was sick and giving her corn syrup as medicine.