Kenton mother accused of child abuse, makes bail

Date: 2004-11-11

The Jackson Sun

A Kenton mother has been accused of striking one girl in the eye with a shoe and beating another with a wire coat hanger.

Frances Ellen Matthews, 49, turned herself in at the Gibson County Jail at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on two charges of child abuse and neglect, Gibson County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Chuck Arnold said Wednesday. Matthews has been released on a $5,000 bond, Arnold said.

She has an appearance in Gibson County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. Nov. 30.

The state Department of Children's Services removed 16 children from the home of Matthews and her husband, Dale, at 206 Flowers St. on Aug. 13. The children, who ranged in age from 3 to 17, were removed because of child abuse and neglect allegations. Many of the children have been diagnosed with severe physical and mental disabilities.

The couple have denied the allegations. Neither they nor their attorney, Jason Scott, could be reached Wednesday for comment.

The couple had adopted 12 of the 16 children, while one was a 14-year-old girl they were providing respite for. Respite involves the placement of a child with another family for a short period of time. The DCS was trying to determine the legal status of three children at the time of their removal, a spokeswoman said.

Warrants were signed Nov. 5 for the arrest of Frances Matthews, also known as "Frankie."

"The reason they were not served is the Matthewses were out of town," Arnold said Wednesday. "We could not locate them. According to their lawyer, they were in North Carolina, but we did not locate them until yesterday."

Frances Matthews is charged with a December 2003 incident involving a then 17-year-old girl. She is accused of throwing a shoe and striking the girl in her right eye and of slamming the girl against the dryer, bruising the left side of her face, according to warrants filed in Gibson County General Sessions Court.

Frances Matthews is also charged with an Aug. 1 incident involving a 13-year-old girl. Police believe she whipped the girl excessively with a yard stick, breaking the stick on the child, a warrant said.

The girl went into a bedroom, where Frances Matthews is then accused of beating her with a wire coat hanger, causing bruises about the girl's leg, the warrant said. The incident was reported to Kenton police.

Dale and Frances Matthews have a hearing on a dependent neglect motion at 9 a.m. Dec. 3 in Gibson County Juvenile Court, where they're accused of neglecting their dependent children.

That hearing was scheduled for November but was delayed because of a motion Scott filed requesting another judge hear the case. Gibson County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Newell has recused himself, Gibson County Juvenile Court Clerk Lee Hayes said Wednesday.

Instead, Lauderdale County Juvenile Court Judge Rachel Anthony will hear the Matthewses' case.

Hayes said Newell was asked to recuse himself because of the similarities between cases involving the Matthewses and Tom and Debra Schmitz of Trenton. The Schmitzes also have a dependent neglect case before Gibson County Juvenile Court involving many of the same agencies and people as the Matthewses' case, Hayes said.

The Schmitzes had 18 children removed from their home over abuse and neglect allegations in June. A Gibson County grand jury has since indicted them on a total of 54 charges.

The Schmitzes' criminal charges are of child abuse and neglect, operating a child care agency without a license and trafficking in children. A trial has been set for March 8.

The Schmitzes' dependent neglect hearing was held in October. The court is now awaiting briefs to be filed by DCS and defense attorneys. Newell will then render his decision. A date has not been set for that decision, Hayes said. Visit and share your thoughts.


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