A Tennessee couple has been arrested for aggravated child abuse after they allegedly harnessed a young, disabled boy to the floor for months.
Det. Rocky Potter of the Rhea County Sheriff's Department told NewsChannel 9 that the victim was a 5-year-old boy. His mother Monica Hall, and her boyfriend, Dennis Couch, allegedly restrained him to the floor using a dog harness attached to a man's belt, fastened with electrical tape. Potter said the harness was attached to a U-bolt on the floor. The abuse has been going on for months, police said.
"When you think that you've heard it all or seen it all, then I get something like this," he said. "This is the first case where a restrain device was used on a child."
Police received a tip through a child abuse hotline that a boy with mental disabilities was being abused. Potter told NewsChannel 9 that Hall and Couch would put the boy in the harness for hours at a time. The boy has a mental disability which results in him being mostly non-verbal. A district attorney called him "particularly vulnerable,” according to Fox17.
"There was a very distinct reaction when he saw me hold the harness," said Potter when he described his interview with the 5-year-old. "Fear. It was fear."
The mother was already in the system for the Department of Children's Services. After her arrest for alleged abuse of the 5-year-old, the two other children in her home were removed and are now with relatives.
Couch also faces charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine. When he and Hall were arrested on Monday, police reportedly found couch in a makeshift room on the property with needles, spoons and a white substance according to NewsChannel9.
[Rhea County Sheriff's Department]