South Sound News

Pierce County man used waterboarding-like technique to punish 7-year-old, police said

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Lakewood police arrested a man for investigation of child assault Sunday for using a waterboarding-like technique to punish his daughter, according to Pierce County probable cause documents.

Lakewood officers said they were called to a 7-Eleven store on 108th Avenue Southwest on Sunday by a woman who said her boyfriend, had “waterboarded” his 7-year-old daughter.

Documents said the woman told officers she was dating and living with the man at an apartment where the incident happened and that he was separated from his wife, who had joint custody of the girl with him.

The woman said her boyfriend’s daughter had gotten into trouble for lying and talking back to her father, so he grabbed his belt and “violently spanked” the girl about 13 times, probable cause documents said.

According to court documents, the woman told police her boyfriend was using, "too much power and too many strikes," that it was, "way overboard,” and that the girl was screaming “bloody murder.”

The man then dragged his daughter into the bathroom, and the woman followed to see what he was doing, according to officers.

The woman told police the man grabbed a hand towel, wet it and then took a water bottle, about a gallon in size, and filled it with water, the police report said.

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He then took his daughter, bent her over the bathtub with her face leaning up, held the wet hand towel over her face and slowly started pouring the water onto the towel and over her face and nose, investigators said.

The woman told police she believed the man poured the water over his daughter for 15 to 20 seconds while the child was gagging, crying and gasping for air while yelling, “I can’t breathe,” probable cause documents said.

Once the man was finished, he yelled at his daughter to go change her clothes, and at that point, the woman believed she and the girl were no longer safe, so she grabbed the child and went to 7-Eleven, where she called 911, according to investigators.

Lakewood officers said they spoke with the 7-year-old, who confirmed the woman’s recount of the punishment.  Officers said the girl told them she could not breathe and was afraid because she was coughing a lot while her dad poured the water on her face.

When medics arrived at the convenience store, a quick look at the child’s buttocks and legs showed there were clear bruises on her buttocks, according to court documents.

When officers found out the father was on his way to 7-Eleven, he was intercepted by officers. Police said he admitted to spanking his daughter and used “water.”  When asked how he used the water, he told officers “just water,” documents said.

Investigators said he told them he hit his daughter with the belt around eight times and said, “I think it could have been a little too much.”

Eventually, police said the man admitted to putting the wet towel on his daughter’s face and pouring water over it but said he only did it for two to three seconds and stopped when his daughter yelled, “I don’t want to die.”

Officers recovered the red hand towel, water bottle and the water-soaked dress the girl had been wearing from the apartment where the incident happened.

The man was booked into the Pierce County Jail on second- and third-degree of assault of a child.

The girl’s mother was called to the scene and took custody of the child.