Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stop Child Abuse

A grand jury will decide in early December whether to indict a Tennessee man on charges that he raped two of his daughters and forced them to wear an electric-shock dog collar. His wife may also face trial for failing to intervene.

Wayne Burkhart Jr., 38, and his wife, Rebecca, 35, were in court yesterday as Claiborne County Judge Robert Estep ruled that the case should go before a grand jury.

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The husband and wife were arrested in September. Wayne Burkhart faces two counts of aggravated child assault and two counts of rape. Rebecca Burkhart was charged with aggravated child neglect and failing to report child abuse.

"We're pleased with yesterday's results, and we feel the judge's decision was consistent with the evidence," Claiborne County Assistant District Attorney Jared Effler told ABC News.

Burkhart's 17-year-old daughter told authorities in a Sept. 10 interview that she had been sexually and physically abused by her father, according to the complaint affidavit. "Among other things, her father [the defendant] uses dog collars equipped with electric shock to train his hunting dogs, and that he uses the collar on her to shock her and her 19-year-old sister," the affidavit reads.

The teen told authorities her father used the shock collar on her Sept. 9 "because he was mad at her for going out with a boy."

The teen also said that her mother had witnessed this and that her father typically put the collar around her midcalf to shock her. The girl's siblings, 15, 11 and 13, corroborated the account, according to the court documents.

Both teens showed investigators bruises consistent with an electric dog collar and the girl also said that her father held a shotgun to her head and said that if she "ever told anyone, he would kill himself, her and anyone who tried to remove her from his home," the affidavit reads.

Burkhart's children also said that their stepmother, Rebecca Burkhart, had been present when the dog collar was used. "At none of these times," the affidavit reads, "did [Rebecca Burkhart] attempt to call law enforcement or seek medical treatment for her stepdaughter."


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