Catoosa County Woman Arrested for Cruelty to Children
A Ringgold woman faces a child cruelty charge for abusing her own son, according to the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office Wednesday.
Christine Evelyn Baughman is charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, accused of physically and emotionally abusing her child. he police report indicated that the "weapon" used was an "adult belt." After a search online, NewsChannel9 found out the suspect worked in healthcare around children.
According to the incident report, the alleged abuse happened between November 19 and November 20 at the family's home at 635 Middleview Drive in Ringgold. Whitfield County case workers with the Department of Family and Children Services were called to check out the boy on November 22. That's when DFCS took photos of injuries and reported everything to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, authorities said.
"It's a serious charge. We take it very seriously," said Sheriff Gary Sisk, of Catoosa County Sheriff's Office. "We do know the difference. A lot of families may have issues with punishment and the whipping of the children. We know the difference between maybe a red mark that may occur from a spanking as opposed to bruising and things and in different areas than just the bottom."
A Catoosa County detective got a call on November 24 about the case, and officials with the Lookout Mountain Circuit Children's Advocacy Center interviewed the boy about what happened the following day. Authorities said the child told them he was abused, and Assistant District Attorney Alan Norton directed that Baughman be arrested.
Sisk said the 11-year-old victim is adopted. He also said the family has other children, and report stated the crime allegedly happened in front of another child.
Baughman got out of jail on $5,000 bond on November 26. NewsChannel9's Briona Arradondo went by her home to get her side of the story. Baughman answered the door before immediately closing it without a comment.
Baughman's Facebook page shows she worked around children, and her employer was Promise Pediatrics in Ringgold.
"We'll of course have to go over all of our interviews and see if there's any other evidence that needs to be collected or any other interviews that need to be done," said Sisk.
Child advocates said there are signs adults should look for of alleged physical abuse.
"If the injury doesn't match the story, that is often something that an adult should look into and try to see what may be going on," said Shelley McGraw, the executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Hamilton County.
In this case, it's a mother who allegedly abused her son. Advocates said if it proves to be true, that circumstance can be traumatizing to a child.
"Often times if it's a loved one that's harmed them, that can be especially traumatic and confusing for children," said McGraw.
Child advocates said child abuse is every adult's concern, and anyone who suspects abuse of a child should report it to local authorities.
A court date has not been set yet for Baughman. Depend on NewsChannel9 to pass that information along once more information becomes available.
After the 5 p.m. newscast, NewsChannel9 received a statement on behalf of Christine Baughman and her husband Dr. Henry Baughman from their attorneys Adam Cathey and John Robert Wiggins.
The statement said in part, "Dr. and Ms. Baughman were informed of allegations having been made by an unknown third party regarding their son." It continued on to state, "While the charges made against Ms. Baughman appear very serious, she wants to assure the community that she is innocent of these allegations that have been made against her. The Baughman family remains supportive of their wife and mother during this very stressful time." Cathey and Wiggins also said on behalf of the family that "They remain committed to working with local authorities to resolve this situation. As these matter will pose challenges for the Baughman family for the indefinite future, they desire the continued trust of the local community which they have enjoyed for nearly 15 years."