WEST VALLEY CITY — Criminal child abuse charges were filed against a West Valley couple Wednesday after police say they forced three young sisters to stand with their faces against a wall for "three days straight" as punishment for misbehavior.
Karen Louise Jacobs and James Richard Jacobs, both 55, were each charged in 3rd District Court with three counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony, and accused of intentionally inflicting serious physical injury.
The three sisters ages 9, 8 and 6, told police the abuse occurred between April and early July of this year while under the care of the Jacobses. They said that while staying with the man and woman, they were grounded "for doing bad things" and ordered to "stand with their face against the wall for three days without moving," charging documents state.
The couple's relationship to the girls was not outlined in the charges and prosecutors were unable to provide that information Wednesday.
The girls' grandmother said when she once went to pick up the girls from James Jacobs, she heard him threaten them that if they didn't comply and put their faces to the wall, he would kick them with "his size 13 shoe" and "kill them," charging documents state.
The 8-year-old "stated that (Karen) Jacobs is mean, she hits (her) with the belt, leaving bruises," the charges state.
The 9-year-old and 6-year-old told police that the three were threatened with a leather belt if they moved away from the wall.
"Their punishment is for three days straight (and) if they are caught moving from (the) wall, they are threatened and physically punished by the belt," court documents say.
The 6-year-old told West Valley police that Karen Jacobs would also punch her and drag her by her hair. "(She) stated that she was being punished because she was constantly stealing food and sugar substitute packets," the charges state.
The girls' father said he saw Karen Jacobs drag his 6-year-old daughter by her hair and slap her "over and over again" on July 7, according to the charges.
A warrant seeking the arrest of Karen and James Jacobs was ordered Wednesday.
James Jacobs pleaded guilty to drug or alcohol related reckless driving in 1994. Aside from that case, both defendants' prior criminal histories in Utah are limited to minor traffic and vehicle offenses, state court records show.