Four children placed in protective custody after friend, 9, reports seeing abuse

Four children have been placed in protective custody following a Friday night sleepover after which a visiting child reported witnessing abuse, police said.

A 9-year-old girl told her mother on Sunday that she saw the mother of her friend pull her 6-year-old daughter out of bed by her legs and then slap her several times, Lt. James Espinoza said.

When officers went to the house in the 1300 block of West Stillwell, near Seneca and Harry, they saw bruising on the child’s face. A police report on the incident noted bruises around both eyes and swelling next to the left eye.

The 6-year-old girl and her three siblings — girls ages 14 and 12 and a 10-year-old boy — were all taken into protective custody, Espinoza said. Officers noted unsuitable living conditions at the residence as a basis for removing the rest of the children.

A 45-year-old man who is the father of at least one of the children was arrested on suspicion of obstructing and interfering with a police investigation, Espinoza said. The 38-year-old mother has been questioned but not arrested. The Exploited and Missing Child Unit is investigating the incident further and additional action is possible.

“We’re very thankful that the 9-year-old showed some courage” and reported what she saw, Espinoza said. “A lot of times these young people won’t say anything.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.