Nationwide arrest warrants have been issued for an Apple Valley couple accused of beating toddler girls—ages 2 and 3—with a belt and causing the 2-year-old to suffer a brain injury.
Lewis is charged with five felonies: two counts of malicious punishment of a child causing bodily harm, two counts of third-degree assault and one count of child neglect. He is also charged with one gross misdemeanor count of malicious punishment of a child.
Roff, the mother of the two children, is charged with three felonies—malicious punishment of a child causing bodily harm, third-degree assault and child neglect—and one gross misdemeanor count of child neglect.
According to the criminal complaint, Apple Valley police received a report on April 23 that two young sisters, ages 2 and 3, had suffered multiple bruises on their bodies, and the 3-year-old said that “Carlton” had caused one of the bruises. Police learned that Lewis often stayed in the children’s home and helped care for them.
Police interviewed two people who said they had seen bruises on the girls on April 16 and 17, including “significant and pronounced” bruising on the 3-year-old’s right calf, upper right thigh, inner thighs, back, arms and buttocks. Both witnesses said the girl told them that “Carlton” was responsible for the bruises.
A police detective and a social worker interviewed the 3-year-old, asking her how a bruise had gotten on her leg. She said that “Carlton got her with a belt,” according to the complaint. She was asked if the belt had hit her, and she replied yes, and that it had hit her on her buttocks.
On April 23, police interviewed Lewis, who initially denied hitting or leaving marks on the girls. He later admitted to spanking the 3-year-old three weeks earlier, but denied leaving any bruises on her. He said he spanked her only once on her buttocks, according to the complaint.
On April 24, officers spoke to Roff, who said she has “no problems” with Lewis physically disciplining her children and denied seeing any bruises on them other than what she believed was “normal” for children their age. When police spoke to Roff again on April 27, she said that not all of the girls’ bruises came from spankings and claimed that they “bruise easily,” according to the complaint.
Roff admitted that both she and Lewis had used a belt to discipline the 3-year-old, and said she was the one who retrieved the belt, then struck the girl with it several times, the complaint says. She said Lewis then spanked the 3-year-old with the belt, but claimed that it was the only time they had used a belt to discipline the child, according to the complaint.
Roff was asked why she used a belt to discipline the child, and told police that the 3-year-old had been “beating up on” her younger sister and had locked the girl in a tunnel.
Lewis admitted on April 27 that he and Roff both spanked the 3-year-old with a belt and admitted striking her five or six times with the belt, the complaint says. He said the child was moving around while he was spanking her, and although he swung the belt at her buttocks, he ended up striking various parts of her body because the child was trying to run away from him, according to the complaint.
Lewis and Roff also admitted to police that they sometimes punished the 3-year-old by making her hold her arms up over her head for 5 to 10 minutes, the complaint charges. Lewis said on one occasion, he and Roff fell asleep, and the child ended up holding her hands above her head for a half-hour or longer.
On June 28, Apple Valley police learned that the 2-year-old had been admitted to the hospital with a brain injury. Roff took the child to the hospital on June 25 and told medical personnel that she had run into a desk two days earlier, but denied that she had lost consciousness or had behaved differently afterward.
Roff said the child kept rolling out of bed on June 23 and 24, and she believed that the girl might have hit her head on the nightstand in the process, according to the complaint. She said she noticed on June 24 that the child had some loss of movement on her left side. She went to work on June 25, but when she got home, the girl’s condition had not improved, so she took her to the hospital, the complaint says.
Hospital personnel reported that the 2-year-old had suffered a diffused brain injury with subdural hemorrhaging, retinal hemorrhaging, signs of a possible skull fracture and a fractured finger. Doctors said her injuries were serious and potentially life-threatening, and said Roff shouldn’t have waited seven days to seek treatment for the child.
Lewis told police on June 29 that the 2-year-old was injured when she ran into the corner of a desk and fell out of a bunk bed, and that after the incidents, she was groggy and unconscious and vomited once. He said the child didn’t want to do much in the following days, and that she wouldn’t use the toilet and had to be put back in diapers, according to the complaint.
Lewis said he told Roff to take the girl to a doctor, but Roff told her she wanted to wait to see if she got better on her own because she was concerned about how hospital staff would react to the child’s injuries and she was afraid authorities would take away her children, according to the complaint.
As of July 2, the 2-year-old was still having difficulty seeing out of one of her eyes, was still paralyzed on one side and remained hospitalized.
Roff’s and Lewis’ whereabouts are unknown. Anyone with information are asked to contact local police.