A 9-year-old Utah girl told police that her father and stepmother subjected her to “waterboarding,” a form of interrogating prisoners of war that is widely considered torture, as a form of punishment, KUTV (Salt Lake City) is reporting.
Authorities were called to the family’s Provo home in early December after reports of possible abuse in the home. According to KTRK-TV (Houston), the alleged abuse came to light when the girl’s father took her to a hospital to be seen for an unspecified reason.
Nevertheless, the girl told authorities that her father, 29-year-old Joseph Mitchell, and her stepmother, 28-year-old Ilaria Mitchell, on at least three occasions punished her by “waterboarding” her – that is, tying her hands behind her back, restraining her in a chair, positioning her horizontally in the bathtub, and pouring water over her.
The girl said the process hurt her, scared her, and made it difficult for her to breathe.
According to Amnesty International, waterboarding has been used by the CIA, the U.S. military, and other entities affiliated with the federal government, to get information out of detainees, calling it “enhanced interrogation.” The controversial practice has by-and-large been largely condemned by the international community, which is considered a war crime according to international law.
“Waterboarding is slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of blackout and expiration – usually the person goes into hysterics on the board…When done right it is controlled death.”
The girl’s biological mother, Birttany Calabrese, certainly believes her daughter was tortured, according to the Merced Sun-Star.
“She’s nine, nine years old. That is torture of a child.”
Sgt. Nisha King of the Provo Police Department says the girl was tortured this way on at least three occasions. King also said that, on examination, the girl had injuries on her wrists that were consistent with her wrists having been bound behind her back.
The girl also said that her stepmother beat her with a closed fist, causing her nose to bleed. Further, the criminal complaint against the couple says that the adult inflicted unspecified other forms of abuse on the girl.
The girl has been placed in foster care via Utah’s Child Protective Services. Meanwhile, in Texas, her biological mother is trying to regain custody of her or have her (the mother’s) family take her in, according to WWLP-TV (Springfield, Massachusetts).
As for the Mitchells, they have been taken downtown and charged with one count each of child abuse. Joseph Mitchell was also charged with possession of a credit card that didn’t bear his name; he allegedly told police that the card belonged to his 7-year-old nephew.