‘Child abuse by torture’: Horrifying allegations lead to couple’s arrest

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Millington couple is behind bars after they allegedly "tortured" a young child.

Jesse and Trish Piatt were charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect after they were booked into the Shelby County Jail on Thursday.

WREG is not identifying the girl, who has been placed in foster care.

According to police, an investigation was launched in January after the child was caught trying to steal food from a teacher. That's when school officials learned the girl was allegedly made to sleep in a tub and was not being fed properly. The child said when school is in session the couple often does not provide any food because the school serves two meals a day.

The police report specifically noted the child was very thin, wearing dirty clothing and black tennis shoes that were too large, and had a shaved spot on her head. That spot, the child said, was made by Trish Piatt after the woman got mad.

The child also claimed she was beaten with a belt by the parents and made to drink toilet water.

While the child painted a horrifying picture, Jesse Piatt told police a different story.

He claimed the child has an undiagnosed medical condition and they have been seeking help. He said he had been trying to have her committed to a mental facility because he was afraid she would kill him in his sleep.

He confirmed the girl slept in the bathroom, but stated the couple was unable to make her do anything, including sleep in a bed.

Police noted the man called the child "an embarrassment to the other children," did not attempt to speak to the child and continually laughed and made jokes through the interview.

But the shocking allegations didn't end there.

After examining the child a doctor advised she had "concerns about child abuse by torture."

"The child's behaviors and disclosures were all indicative of nutritional neglect, medical neglect, and psychological abuse as well as physical abuse," the police report stated. "Descriptions of [the] treatment are consistent with torture and [the doctor] believes [the child] is at high risk for serious psychological problems as a result of [the] abuse, as well as death..."

The examination noted the child had bruising consistent with the claim that Trish Piatt had grabbed the child's arms, pushed her to the ground and kicked her.

During another incident, the child said the couple waited several days to seek medical treatment after she broke an arm. The couple allegedly told the child to say the dog caused the fall.

They also forced the child to sleep outside if he or she didn't finish the chores. A blanket, food or water was not provided.

The child was also reportedly told to go ahead and kill herself.

DCS confirmed they had multiple reports on the child and placed her into foster care.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.