School tip leads to neglect count

Date: 2013-08-02

Police seeking father in abuse case

By Julie Crothers

A Fort Wayne boy twice reported to his elementary school teachers that he was being abused by his mother.

But it’s his father who is being sought by police on charges of felony child neglect for allegedly putting the boy’s life in danger multiple times.

The boy, whose age was not listed in court files, was enrolled in a local elementary school as of October 2012.

On Thursday, officers issued a warrant for the arrest of Lee M. Rager, 45, on felony charges of child neglect.

Rager, of the 11300 block of Twins Creeks Drive, is the boy’s father, according to court documents. Even though the abuse described in court documents allegedly came at the hands of the boy’s mother, she has not been charged in the case.

According to court documents filed Thursday, the boy first reported to a teacher at Hickory Creek Center Elementary School during the 2011-12 school year that he had been tied to his bed and beaten.

After the alleged abuse was reported to the Department of Child Services, the boy’s parents removed him from school, the teacher told police.

In October 2012, the child spoke with a Child Services caseworker after he was found with marks around his wrist and right ankle, court documents said.

At the time of the second abuse report, the child was attending Timothy L. Johnson Academy and had told teachers that he had been “tied up like Jesus on the cross” and spanked with a belt by his mother.

The boy told a Child Services caseworker that he was often locked in his room and would have to shout for someone to let him out to go to the bathroom. He said there had been times when no one would let him out of the bathroom and he would have to go to the bathroom in the vents or on the floor, according to court documents.

A caseworker reported the boy’s room had only a mattress, pillow and sheet and smelled strongly of urine and feces.

The boy also said he is often spanked by his mother with a belt on various parts of his body or is tied up around his thighs, stomach and feet. He added that if he doesn’t remain standing, she uses a belt on his head, documents said.

Timothy L. Johnson Academy administrators said after the alleged abuse was reported, the child was removed from the school by his mother, the documents said.

Hospital medical records from 2012 showed that the child had been treated multiple times for injuries, according to court documents.

In August, the boy was taken to St. Joseph Hospital emergency room with injuries to his hands. His mother said a brick fell on his hand the day before and the boy had fallen asleep with an ice pack on his hand, documents said.

The doctor said the injuries appeared to be second- or third-degree burns. The injuries later resulted in permanent discoloration and disfigurement to multiple fingers, according to the boy’s medical records.

According to court files, the boy was seen multiple times for frostbite to one of his hands and that at least one finger had “self-amputated.”

In October, the boy was taken to a hospital emergency room by his mother with multiple wounds to his wrist and legs.

The boy’s mother said the cuts were likely from play handcuffs or from self-inflicted wounds from a piece of metal. The boy said he had cut himself, court documents said.

It is unclear from court documents whether the boy was ever removed from the home, or where he is now.

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