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Phoenix Couple Allegedly Tortured, Waterboarded, Beat Young Girl With Crowbar
The child told detectives that her mother, Chloe Sergent, and stepfather, Keola Wimbish, had repeatedly abused her for up to a year until law enforcement were called in, charging documents show.
A Phoenix couple stands accused of sexually abusing, beating and waterboarding the the woman's young daughter, authorities said.
Chloe Sergent, 26, and Keola Wimbish, 39, are each facing a felony child abuse charge, criminal complaints obtained by Oxygen.com show. The couple, who are accused of abusing the child over several months, were arrested last week.
The girl was rescued from her mother and stepfather’s care in December after law enforcement were tipped off to reports of child abuse within the household, according to a separate probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
The child, who was hospitalized at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, had suffered 12 broken bones, as well as several possible burns, lacerations and bruises. Some of her wounds, which had been left untreated, were reportedly infected. One cut was so deep the girl’s shin bone was exposed, court filings show. She was also allegedly severely malnourished.
She initially claimed that another family member would club her with a crowbar and a machete “in multiple areas of her body,” according to court filings. The relative in question — the girl’s uncle — denied inflicting any abuse, but admitted he’d seen her parents strike the girl in November and December 2021.
In a separate police interview, conducted after the girl had received medical treatment, including therapy, she confessed that Sergent and Wimbush had threatened her and instructed her to purposefully mislead detectives.
Then the girl accused her stepfather of multiple abusive acts starting in December 2020 and continuing under the intervention of law enforcement in December 2021 — including waterboarding her, strangling her, lighting her on fire, beating her legs with a crowbar and a hammer, punching her in the face and ears and burning her with a hot metal straw, court records allege.
"The co-defendant water boarded her by placing a cloth on her face and pouring water on it," investigators wrote in the probable cause statement.
She also said Wimbish had forced her to touch him inappropriately.
She said her mother had broken her nose, punched her in the ears and watched her stepfather abuse her.
The child also told police that she was forced to take drugs through a straw and was hit with a hammer by her brother at the couple’s command, court documents also stated.
Her brother allegedly corroborated the abuse and said that the children's uncle was not responsible.
Under questioning, both Sergent and Wimbish were unable to explain how the child had been so badly hurt or why they had never sought medical care for her.
Wimbish, however, confessed he "should have noticed the victim's multiple, serious injuries, and could not explain how these injuries had occurred without his knowledge or why the victim had not received medical care,” court filings said. He also added that he knew the child victim had been burnt, but didn’t question his partner about it.
Sergent later "proceeded to invoke her right to remain silent,” according to charging documents.
Winbush's sister, with whom the family stayed for two months after their September 2021 eviction, also disclosed that the girl’s legs were regularly bandaged and that she appeared “hunched over.” The girl’s aunt claimed to have never seen Sergent or Wimbish feed the girl.
The victim has since been placed in the custody of child protective custody, according to reports. Her injuries required surgery and may result in permanent damange.
No further information was released by law enforcement. A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department declined to comment on the active case on Monday when contacted by Oxygen.com.
Sergent and Wimbish were booked into a Maricopa County detention facility and are being held on a $50,000 bond, according to jail records. The couple's next scheduled court date is set for April 12. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for them this week.