Local News

Johnston County man accused of torturing 4-year-old

Posted July 16, 2010 8:39 p.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2010 5:42 p.m. EDT

— A Johnston County man was arrested Friday on a felony child abuse charge for allegedly torturing a 4-year-old girl for multiple days.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Jonathan Douglas Richardson, 21, took the child to Johnston Memorial Hospital in Smithfield around noon Friday, claiming she had fallen off a bed.

The sheriff said the girl suffered severe trauma to the head and had been sexually assaulted. She also had bite marks, cuts and bruises on her body.

"(This is) one of the worst cases of torture of a child that we have ever investigated – cuts, lacerations, signs of sexual assault, bite marks, head trauma," Bizzell said. "(It's) just sad. I have detectives out here, professional law enforcement officers, who are saddened by this. It is just unreal. We can not imagine someone who would do this to such a young child."

The girl was airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment. She was listed in critical condition on Friday evening.

The mother left the girl in Richardson's care last Tuesday while she underwent military training. Bizzell said the mother was devastated to hear about the incident and was on her way back to Johnston County.

Investigators believe the assault took place at a barn apartment Richardson had been living in. It is located behind his grandparent's home along Old Sanders Road in Smithfield. Bizzell said Richardson's grandparents had nothing to do with the case and are good, respected people in the community.

Richardson was in the Johnston County jail under a $1 million bond Friday night.

In 2008, Richardson was found guilty of assault on a female, according to court records. He was ordered to enter an abuser treatment program and attend a domestic violence program in Johnston County.

Records show that he also has convictions for communicating threats and damage to property.