Local News

Raleigh couple accused of zip-tying 4-year-old girl to child's gate

Posted May 6, 2013 11:27 a.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2013 7:11 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man and his girlfriend have been charged with child abuse after investigators say the pair used zip ties to bind his 4-year-old daughter and fasten her to a baby gate in their home.

Gerald Thomas Swinehart, 26, and Marlaine Victoria Coffey, 28, both of 931 S. East St., were arrested last month in Marin County, Fla., where, police say, they fled after the child was removed from their custody in March. The pair was extradited to Raleigh last week.

During their first court appearance Monday, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said child protective services became aware of the alleged abuse in March after Coffey took the child to Duke University Hospital with serious injuries.

"The 4-year-old victim was interviewed and talked about an initial injury to her mouth when the father – this defendant – had kicked her, and she hit a TV causing the injury," Cruden said.

"During the course of that interview, she also talked about how her father would tie her to a dog/kid gate for extended periods of time," he continued. "She had wounds to her ankles and wrists consistent with that."

According to an April 16 arrest warrant, the alleged crimes happened in February and March. Swinehart is also accused of pushing down and kicking the child hard enough to "cause the victim's bottom teeth to protrude through her bottom lip," according to the warrant.

He is charged with two counts of felony intentional child abuse causing serious physical injury. Coffey faces a charge of felony intentional child abuse causing serious physical injury.

District Judge Jennifer Knox refused to lower bond for Swinehart, who said he was disabled. He was in the Wake County jail Monday evening under a $100,000 bond.

Knox, however, lowered Coffey's bond from $100,000 to $50,000.

According to court records, Swinehart has convictions dating to 2005 on nearly 2 dozen charges, most involving property crimes. He was last released from prison in June 2010.