SOUTH BEND — Calling her own actions “horrible,” a South Bend mother of three plead guilty to charges of child abuse that included beating two of her children with a cord.
Fredreca Washington, 31, pleaded guilty Thursday to hitting two sons, then ages 12 and 13, so severely with the cord that it left welts and bruises on their backs and necks.
Originally, Washington had been charged with beating all three children. According to the initial charging affidavit, the boys’ injuries were reported to the Department of Child Services by a school principal in December.
After their injuries were reported, the boys underwent a forensic interview, and told authorities their mother became angry when they were about leave for school. She asked two of the boys for their spelling words and they both said they didn’t have them. Washington allegedly told them to strip down to their boxers and socks and whipped each of them with a red cord from the basement, according to court documents.
On Thursday, Washington admitted to hitting her two older sons, but not hitting her 9-year-old, telling St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Roland Chamblee that the beating was a form of discipline gone wrong.
“I was trying everything I could do to keep them out of trouble,” a tearful Washington told the judge. “I just got overwhelmed and used a tool that I regret ever using.”
Chamblee then asked her if the beating was out of frustration with the boy’s behavior.
“If I had been frustrated,” Washington replied, “I would have taken chunks out of them.”
Chamblee then asked Washington if she now knows that what she did was not a proper parenting tool. “Yes,” Washington said. “It was horrible.”
As part of her plea deal and past history, Washington is likely to be sentenced to community corrections, although Chamblee said that outcome would depend on an analysis of her pre-sentencing report.
Washington asked that any recommendation be made soon, telling the judge that she is working with the Department of Child Services to regain custody of her children.
Washington is set to be sentenced on Aug. 21.
Staff writer Dave Stephens: