An Idaho Falls woman was arrested Tuesday after she reportedly used a cold shower to punish a 7-year-old boy, causing him to be hospitalized.
The probable cause affidavit states Ashlynn Lee Richardson, 24, reportedly forced the victim to sit in a cold shower for 20 minutes as punishment for wetting the bed.
Court records state the victim has limited ability to move, walk or talk due to juvenile Huntington’s disease, which is terminal.
A neighbor told Idaho Falls Police Department officers that on Sept. 24 she heard running water, a child screaming and Richardson yelling “stop it.” The neighbor said the noise was disturbing enough that she felt compelled to check what was happening.
The neighbor said she spoke to Richardson for 15 minutes, and could still hear the water running and the child whimpering.
Richardson gave police multiple accounts of what happened when she returned to the shower. She first said she returned to find cold water running on the victim, who was cold and stiff. She then said he was fine when she returned, but later became cold and stiff.
Richardson said she contacted 911 and an ambulance took the victim to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment. An emergency medical responder took his temperature with an ear thermometer, getting a result of 71.8 degrees Fahrenheit. He was diagnosed with “profound hypothermia.”
Doctors told police they suspected the child had been abused. During an examination, multiple injuries were found on the child’s body, including bruises on his forehead and shoulders and a swollen lip. The doctors also found evidence of cannabis in the victim’s urine.
Richardson claimed she had set the water to hot when starting the shower. She said that she ignored the victim when she heard him falling in the shower, even after hearing the curtain rod crashing down.
“Ashlynn said that (the victim) was safer alone in the shower than he would have been if she was in there because of how mad she was at him,” the detective wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
The affidavit states Richardson confessed to using cold showers to punish the victim for wetting the bed, having done so on multiple occasions.
Richardson is charged with felony injury of a child, punishable with up to 10 years in prison. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 in Bonneville County Court.