Mother charged with burning her daughter
FAYETTEVILLE (AP) ó A North Carolina mother with a degree in social work repeatedly burned her handicapped child with an iron after the young girl with physical and mental disabilities struggled to iron her dress on Easter Sunday, authorities said Monday.
Nia Michelle Brooks, 33, of Fayetteville has been charged with aggravated assault on a handicapped person, felony child abuse and assault inflicting serious injury. She was scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon and her bond was set at $100,000.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said Brooks burned her daughter with an iron on both her arms, her left thigh and her right leg, leaving scars that investigators said clearly came from an iron. The 11-year-old child told investigators that she was burned because she wasn’t ironing her Easter dress the way her mother wanted.
Brooks said the ironing board was wobbly and the iron fell on the child, according to an investigator’s report.
Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, said nobody noticed the burns because the child wore clothes to cover them.
“She wore long-sleeved clothes,” Tanna said. “She wore pants ó no dresses or skirts or shorts.”
One day the girl wore a coat to school with temperatures approaching 90 degrees, authorities said. She was on the playground and rolled up her sleeves when a teacher saw the injuries and reported them.
Authorities did not name the girl but said she has no vision in her right eye and only 30 percent vision in her left. They also said the girl is mildly mentally retarded.
Tanna said Brooks, who was arrested Saturday, had a bachelor’s degree in social work but did not know where Brooks got the degree. She had no history of abuse in the county.
Jail officials said she does not yet have an attorney.