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MIDVALE — A couple living with seven children in a motel room were charged Thursday with physically abusing the children for doing things such as asking for more food at school.
Corlon Corey Bowser and Jessica Jonquil Stewart, both 29, are each charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony. Bowser faces an additional charge of child abuse, a second-degree felony, and Stewart is also charged with witness tampering, a third-degree felony.
Unified police were called to a Super 8 Motel Oct. 26 on a welfare check after screaming and crying were heard coming from a room. An 11-year-old girl answered the door while on the phone with her mother, Stewart, and "mouthed the words 'help me' twice to officers," according to charging documents.
When police asked the 11-year-old what was happening, she said that Bowser, her mother's boyfriend, "whips us when, like, my brother got in trouble from school," the charges state.
Police learned that seven children, ranging in ages from 3 to 11, were living in the room. They also learned that one boy "got in trouble" for asking for more food while he was at school, according to the charges.
The children then told police that Bowser would whip some of them with a belt, and had choked and punched one of the boys when he wouldn't stop screaming, the charges allege.
One responding officer stated that "when he entered the motel room, he observed blood on the comforter draped over the bed closest to the door" as well as "multiple bruises and scars" on a 9-year-old boy. One witness told police she observed Stewart punching one of the children in the chest for asking other people for food, and was sent video by one of the children "that showed Stewart stomping on one of the children," according to the charging documents.
The children were evaluated by a doctor who determined that several of them had incurred "inflicted trauma," the court documents state.
After the couple was arrested, they were questioned about the alleged abuse.
"Stewart stated that she and Bowser share punishment responsibilities and she uses a little black belt to discipline the kids," according to the charges.