Amber Cartwright, a 24-year-old mom of two from Cullman County, Alabama, was arrested Wednesday and charged along with her lover, 23-year-old Zachary Burns, with committing crimes against her own children that local authorities there described as too “heinous” to release to the public.
The children are both under the age of 12. While the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office would not specify their ages, given that Cartwright is 24, the two children are certainly much younger than 12.
While law enforcement authorities confirmed to local TV station WIAT that Cartwright is indeed the mother of the two children, whether Burns is related to the two victims in any way remained unclear.
Among the list of charges against Cartwright was a pending count of incest. An incest count was not announced as being brought against Burns — though the mom’s boyfriend faces several serious charges in the alarming sex abuse case.
“It’s safe to say this is one of the worst child sexual abuse cases I have seen in my career,” Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry said. “These children are very brave for coming forward to help us put these predators behind bars. There is no punishment severe enough for these two that fits this crime.”
The most that the sheriff’s office would make public is that as the degenerate couple engaged in sex acts with each other, they forced the two small children to somehow participate in those acts.
The horrific abuse came to light only because the two kids told another relative what was going on, and that relative quickly informed the police.
“I just ask that if there are any other victims out there, any children, please come forward,” said the sheriff, who said that his department handles several child sexual abuse cases each year.
He did not specify how long the sexual abuse of the two children by their mom and her boyfriend had been going on, or how often they were subjected to the heartless and sickening sexual abuse.
The charges against Cartwright, in addition to the pending incest charge, include first-degree sodomy, plus two counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12. In Alabama, first-degree sodomy includes acts of “deviate sexual intercourse” with a child younger than 12 by a person 16 years or older.
The general legal definition of “deviate” sexual intercourse is a forced sexual act involving the mouth or anus of the victim.
Burns faced the same charges as Cartwright, minus the incest charge.
UPDATE: On July 29, Amber Cartwright’s case was turned over to a grand jury, where Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock hoped to add additional charges against her, he said.
After her arrest, Cartwright was charged with one count each of first-degree sodomy, sexual abuse of a minor under 12 years old, and “enticing a child for immoral purposes.” Blaylock said he planned to add one more count on each of those charges, covering the second child who was a victim of the mom’s abuse as well.
Somewhat puzzlingly, the charge of incest against Cartwright was dropped, because according to Blaylock, “we found no evidence to support that.”
Alabama law defines the crime of incest as “marr(ying) or engag(ing) in sexual intercourse with a person he knows to be, either legitimately or illegitimately,” an ancestor or descendant.
In the case of Zachary Burns, no date for a preliminary hearing had yet been set.
The latest horrifying case of a couple charged with jointly taking part in the sex abuse of a child comes just two weeks after a married couple in Pennsylvania, Robert and Holly Greiner, were charged with sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.
Amber Cartwright and Zachary Burns are being held in Cullman County Detention Center. Cartwright’s children have been taken away from her by the state.
[Image: Cullman County Sheriff’s Office]