A former teacher and her husband have been charged with child abuse and neglect for allegedly mistreating their 4-year-old adopted daughter.
The teacher, Bernadette Elizabeth Hodges, and her husband, Terry Michael Hodges, have been indicted on four criminal counts, two of aggravated child abuse and two of aggravated child neglect. If convicted, they could face virtual life sentences since each is a Class A felony and carries 15 to 25 years in prison.
In the indictments, prosecutors contend the abuse happened between June 2012 and August 2015, meaning prosecutors believe the child had been systematically abused over a three-year period. The child was one of four children the couple adopted after first keeping them as foster children. There are no allegations in the indictments any of the other children were abused.
District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis would “neither confirm nor deny” reports the child had been malnourished to the point the Department of Children’s Services was called to investigate. She said she could also not comment on reports the child may have suffered mysterious injuries over the time period.
The child has been removed from the custody of the Hodges. However, the other three chil-dren are reportedly still in their custody.
The clause under which the husband and wife are charged states, “The act of abuse, neglect or endangerment was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, or involved the infliction of torture to the victim,” and that “the act of abuse, neglect or endangerment resulted in serious bodily injury to the child.”
The pair will face arraignment before Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley later this month. They are free on $75,000 bonds.
Mrs. Hodges is a former teacher at Dibrell School where she taught ESL classes from August 2010 until her resignation in March.