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Police: Provo couple arrested in water torture of young daughter

(Utah County Sheriff's Office)

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PROVO — Police say a Provo couple used water torture on their 9-year-old daughter as a form of punishment.

Joseph Maseser Mitchell, 29, and Ilaria Catherina Mitchell, 28, were arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail Thursday for investigation of child abuse. Joseph Mitchell was also arrested for investigation of unlawful possession of a bank card.

The investigation began Dec. 3 when Provo police received a report from the Division of Child and Family Services regarding possible abuse, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. The 9-year-old girl was interviewed on Wednesday.

She said her father and stepmother "have punished her three separate times by putting a towel over her face and pouring water on it," the affidavit states. "The 9-year-old went into detail saying that Joseph and Ilaria would take her to the bathroom and tie her hands behind her back. They would then hold her down in the bathtub and place a towel over her face and pour water on it. The 9-year-old stated that she cannot breathe and it hurts when this happens."

The girl went on to describe other types of abuse, including being hit with a closed fist by Ilaria Mitchell, causing her nose to bleed, according to the report.

Doctors examined the girl and found marks on her wrist "that would be consistent with her hands being tied up," police wrote.

While being booked into jail, officers found a credit card on Joseph Mitchell that was "connected" to his wife's account, but issued under his 7-year-old nephew's name, the affidavit states.

In 2017, Joseph Mitchell pleaded no contest to having an animal running at large in exchange for a charge of animal cruelty being dismissed, according to court records. In 2013, court records show he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for making “unreasonable noises in public place" in a domestic violence case. In exchange for his plea, five counts of domestic violence were dismissed.


Pat Reavy


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