Parents repeatedly waterboarded a tied-up 9-year-old girl as punishment, Utah cops say

Utah County Sheriff's Office

A 9-year-old girl’s father and stepmother tied her hands behind her back, held her down in the bathtub with a towel across her face and poured water over her repeatedly, Utah police say.

They did it to punish her, police said, according to Fox 13.

Joseph Maeser Mitchell, 29, and Ilaria Catherina Mitchell, 28, of Provo, Utah, were arrested and charged with child abuse after being accused of repeatedly waterboarding their 9-year-old daughter, police said, according to KUTV.

“She’s nine, nine years old. That is torture of a child,” the girl’s biological mother, Brittany Calabrese said, according to WKRC.

The Mitchells were charged with “one count each of child abuse” following an investigation by police and the Department of Child and Family Services, ABC4 reported.

Ilaria Mitchell.jpg
Ilaria Catherina Mitchell, accused of waterboarding her 9-year-old stepdaughter, according to Utah police. Utah County Sheriff's Office

“On three separate occasions they held her in the bathtub, put a towel over her face and poured water on her face and throughout the forensic interview with detectives she said it causes her pain and it made her unable to breathe,” Sgt. Nisha King said, according to WKRC.

The girl had marks on her wrist consistent with being bound, police said, according to KUTV. The girl was taken to a hospital.

Police and child services began investigating after Joseph Maeser Mitchell took his daughter to a hospital and nurses saw the marks on her wrists, King said, according to WKRC.

The 9-year-old also told police that her stepmother had “hit her with a closed fist in the nose, making her nose bleed” along with “other incidents resulting in her being hurt,” ABC4 reported.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Brittany Calabrese.

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News & Observer reporter Abbie Bennett is a charter member of the McClatchy Carolinas real-time team. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and has won awards for her investigative, politics and breaking news reporting.