10-year-old boy: My adoptive parents spanked me until I bled, kept me away from food

Date: 2011-06-14

By Rene Stutzman

SANFORD – A 10-year-old boy today told jurors that the Altamonte Springs couple that adopted him spanked him bare bottomed until he bled then would spank him again before those wounds healed, leaving scars.

Dwayne and Pamela Hardy also punished the boy time and again by not giving him meals, the child said.

By the time child welfare investigators got involved, the boy and his younger sister, also adopted, were gaunt, had permanent scars on their bottoms and had hands that were swollen and marked from blows from a wooden spoon, according to testimony.

The boy was one of the first witnesses today at the trial of Dwayne Hardy, 50, of Altamonte Springs. The defendant is charged with neglecting the boy and his little sister, now age 7.

The defendant's wife, Pamela Hardy, 47, faces more serious charges, aggravated child abuse as well as neglect.

According to the boy, "Miss Pam" was the primary abuser. She was the one who most often spanked him, the one who pulled open his mouth with her fingers when he wouldn't talk, the one who refused him meals when he forgot to feed the dog or when she caught him sneaking food out of the garbage can.

The boy was often hungry, he said.

"They would call me greedy because I would want more," he testified.

Pam Hardy is to stand trial separately. She was in the courtroom this morning before the trial began then disappeared.

She was the family disciplinarian, said defense attorney Mutaqee Akbar. She was a stay-at-home mom who wanted a big family. She had raised and homeschooled the couple's four biological children then adopted another son and finally, adopted the 10-year-old boy and his then-6-year-old sister, whom Pam Hardy had met at vacation Bible school.

Akbar told jurors that Dwayne Hardy had not neglected the boy or his
sister.

The worst of the abuse took place while his client was at work, Akbar said. Dwayne Hardy did whip the boy with a belt once, Akbar said, and drew blood. He then examined the boy to see why and discovered severe bruising from earlier spankings. He saw something similar on the girl.

The defendant then challenged his wife of 29 years, telling her to stop spanking them with a wooden paddle, which the family called "the Law".

His client believed she had, Akbar said.

The boy remembered things differently. He said after Dwayne Hardy whipped him with the belt and saw blood on it, "He said I ruined his belt."

Several weeks later, Akbar said Dwayne Hardy saw that the girl's hands were swollen and bruised. He confronted his wife again, Akbar told jurors, telling her, "You can't put your hands on my kids anymore."

A short time later, someone anonymously called a state child abuse hotline. When an investigator went to the house, said Assistant State Attorney Stacey Salmons, the woman discovered two gaunt, scarred children.

The boy testified via closed-circuit TV. He and his sister suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and his therapist testified that he'd be traumatized if he had to tell a jury what happened to him while the Hardys were in the
room.

His little sister testified in open court this afternoon, saying that Miss Pam sometimes punished her by making her do pushups. One time, after the little girl had grown too weary to do more, Miss Pam pushed her back to the ground, causing her to fracture a tooth.

"It hurt," the child said.

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