Leflore County Couple Arrested After Investigators Say Paddling Went Too Far

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SPIRO (KFSM) -- Leflore County deputies said a mother contacted them to say her 5-year-old daughter had just come back from her fathers home. Investigators said she told them the child was injured.

"Basically, we understood that it was a disciplinary action by the father that had went too far," Leflore County Investigator Terry Winn said.

Investigators said the child was swatted with a hand and more than 10 times with a wooden paddle nearly two feet long and 3'4 of an inch thick. They also said severe bruises were left on the child.

The father, Jeff Hampton was arrested on suspicion of child abuse and his wife, Michelle Warner, who investigators said is a nurse was arrested on charges of failure to protect.

"Under Oklahoma law she is a mandatory reporter which means, she must report any instances of child abuse," Winn said.

Investigators said the nurse told them she witnessed the paddling, saw the bruises but did not feel that it warranted the attention of a doctor. An arrest warrant affidavit also state the nurse claimed she did a medical assessment of the child after the paddling.

Winn explained what constitutes child abuse when it comes to discipline.

"Disciplining your child in the state of Oklahoma is legal until it leaves a bruise, red mark or other injury," he said. "If it's a simple red mark when we get there and it's because the spanking just happened recently, that's not our issue. Our issue is with the permanent bruising."

Investigators said they also determine child abuse cases on a case by case basis.

"As long as you do it within a reasonable persons standard, ok? I know that's very vague but that's the way the law reads, is that it has to be within a reasonable standard," Winn said.

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