Father, stepmother charged, accused of waterboarding 9-year-old daughter as form of punishment

Father, stepmother charged, accused of waterboarding 9-year-old daughter as form of punishment
The couple has been charged with child abuse. The girl’s mother said she is shocked at the news.

PROVO, UT (KSTU/CNN) - A father and stepmother stand accused of among other things, waterboarding their 9-year-old daughter.

Brittany Calabrese lives in Texas now, but said she is horrified her daughter went through such abuse.

Calabrese said Child Protection Services notified her that her daughter was subjected to waterboarding as a form of punishment from her father and stepmother.

"She`s 9 years old,” Calabrese said. “That is torture of a child."

Provo police arrested the girl`s father, 29-year-old Joseph Maeser Mitchell and the child`s stepmother, Ilaria Catherina Mitchell, after detectives interviewed the child.

“On three separate occasions (the parents) held her in the bathtub, put a towel over her face and poured water on her face,” said Sgt. Nisha King of the Provo Police Department. “And throughout the forensic interview with detectives, she said it caused her pain and it made her unable to breathe.”

Investigators said the girl told them there was more abuse.

"She also disclosed that her stepmother had struck her with a closed fist in the face causing her to have a nosebleed," King said.

The case came to light after the girl was checked into the Utah Valley Hospital by her father earlier in November and the nurses saw something was wrong.

“The emergency room staff observed some marks on her wrists which led them to alert the Utah Division of Child and Family Services,” King said.

The department has taken custody of the 9-year-old, where police say she`s in a safe place until the court decides her future.

Calabrese said she’s still in shock after learning of the pain her daughter went through.

"It was the hardest thing for me having to hear being in Texas," she said.

Both suspects are charged with one count of child abuse.

Joseph Mitchell is also charged with unlawfully possessing a financial card, after police said he had a credit card in the name of one of his juvenile relatives.

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