Court documents reveal gruesome details in child abuse case
HARRISON, Arkansas – Boone County prosecutors said two people charged last week with child abuse admitted to taking out their rage out on their 7-week-old son and 14-month-old son multiple times.
Rachel Clayton and Steven Simmons are in jail, and newly-released court documents reveal gruesome details.
Investigators said Rachel Clayton and Steven Simmons lived in a trailer in Omaha without running water or electricity. They said the two parents repeatedly abused their children, and admitted it when they were interviewed.
A detective’s affidavit says the mother took the 7-week-old boy to the hospital in Branson for treatment on Sept. 19. Prosecutors say that’s when doctors discovered a skull fracture, a compression fracture of his spine, seven rib fractures, a broken finger, deep bruises on the front lobe of the brain, and brain tissue injuries. The child was transferred to a hospital in Springfield, and put in Pediatric Intensive Care.
When a Taney County, Mo., sheriff’s deputy questioned the parents at the hospital in Branson, they said the infant had fallen 1.5 feet off a futon-style bed onto the floor.
“They also advised that there were times that they had walked into a wall or door frame striking the child’s head as well,” the deputy said.
A doctor in Branson didn’t think the infant’s severe injuries could have happened as the parents described. Doctors in Springfield also told detectives “that these injuries were in various stages of healing and showed evidence that they occurred during separate acts at separate times during the child’s life,” according to the affidavits. Some injuries were “weeks old” while others were recent.
Detectives interviewed two older children, a 7-year-old daughter of Clayton, and a 13-year-old cousin. The girls told detectives about seeing the parents “strike, slam, drop, and otherwise abuse” the baby on several occasions because he wouldn’t stop crying. They also said Simmons held the baby by the head and pushed it down onto the bed.
According to the affidavit, Clayton later told investigators that she had shaken the baby and tossed him during episodes of rage. She also admitted to striking his head on door frames. Clayton also said she had seen the baby’s father violently shake the baby and slam the baby’s head onto furniture.
Simmons said he wished the baby had never been born, according to investigators. The affidavit also says Simmons admitted to forcing the baby’s face into a pillow and repeatedly screaming, “I hate you!” He also showed with a doll how he violently shook the baby, slammed it onto the bed, and struck the baby’s head on a door frame.
Simmons also said he yelled at the baby to shut up, and said he would look at the baby and say, “God, I wish we could get rid of you,” according to the affidavits. He told detectives that Clayton had been present during several “incidents of rage” and that he had also seen her “toss” the baby from her lap onto the bed.
The mother said she repeatedly screamed at the baby, “I don’t want you!” and “I wish you weren’t here,” according to the affidavits. She said she let the baby “roll off of her arms” onto the furniture during “episodes of rage and frustration when the baby would not be quiet.”
Clayton said “this baby has been the hardest thing she has ever had to deal with,” a detective wrote in the affidavit. She also said she saw Simmons, at least four times, violently shake the baby “and admitted that this was not good for the baby.” She also said she saw Simmons “slam the baby head first onto furniture and then hold the baby’s head face down into the pillows to attempt to quiet the baby,” and did nothing to stop his actions, and did not seek medical treatment when his skull became swollen and bruised.
Simmons also admitted that he had struck the 14-month-old toddler because he had soiled his diaper and then played in it.
“Bring that child to the sheriff’s office; we will find a home for that child. But to treat it worse than you would an animal, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t! You can’t understand the mental state that someone has to be in to do that,” said Boone County Sheriff Mike Moore.
Doctors in Branson also noticed excessive bruising on the older child. The baby tested positive for methamphetamine.
Both Clayton and Simmons are in jail. Clayton is charged with first-degree battery and permitting the abuse of a minor. Simmons is charged with first-degree battery, second-degree battery, and permitting the abuse of a minor. If they’re convicted of first-degree battery, they could get prison sentences of 10 to 40 years, or life.
Second-degree battery could bring a prison sentence up to six years, and permitting the abuse of a minor carries a prison sentence of five to 20 years