An Indiana woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after punishing her 4-year-old granddaughter by scalding her face, scalp, and genitals in the shower.
When Gretta Feil, 49, had her grandson and 4-year-old granddaughter come visit in early April, she told the children’s parents, who live in Alabama, she would bring them back home for Easter on April 12. But after the children arrived, Feil claimed that Indiana had closed state lines due to a COVID-19 lockdown — a lie that the parents initially believed, according to a probable cause affidavit acquired by Oxygen.com.
Over the next several weeks, Feil became increasingly abusive toward her young granddaughter, according to a Tuesday press statement by the Boone County Prosecutor’s office. Family members watched her beating the girl with her hands and a wooden backscratcher, and neighbors called police multiple times after hearing Feil apparently screaming at a child, the affidavit stated.
In addition to physically striking her granddaughter, Feil was also accused of punishing her by holding her under the shower. The girl hated showers, and on one occasion, Feil’s niece watched the woman force the 4-year-old’s face directly into the spray. Every time the girl would look down or move her head to breathe, Feil would “continuously beat her” with her backscratcher, according to the affidavit.
Feil’s shower ran very hot, reaching 137 degrees Fahrenheit after 30 seconds on its highest setting, investigators found. And one day in April, the 4-year-old emerged from the shower with her face “covered in burns,” according to the affidavit.
Police arrived for a wellness check when family members saw the girl’s injuries, and officers saw she had trouble walking when she spoke with them. She was shaking and visibly hurt, and told officers that her genitals hurt. The girl was rushed to a hospital, where she was found to have third-degree burns on her face, scalp and genitals, according to the affidavit. Serious bruising covered much of her body, and her enzyme levels indicated bruised organs.
Her brother did not appear to be injured, the affidavit stated.
Feil was arrested on April 24 and charged with two counts of battery causing serious permanent disfigurement, three counts of child domestic battery causing serious bodily injury, and six counts of neglecting a dependent, according to online court records.
She accepted a plea deal in September and pled guilty to two counts of felony aggravated battery, according to the press release. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison and four years on probation.
The 4-year-old has received skin grafts, but a nurse practitioner warned investigators she will likely have “permanent scarring/disfigurement,” according to the affidavit.
“This child suffered horrific abuse. Her physical scars are healing, and we hope that this sentence today helps the healing process for her emotional scars,” Special Victim’s Prosecutor Heidi Jennings said in the press release.
Feil’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
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