Children's complaint leads to arrest of dad, step-mom

Benjamin Smith (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)
Benjamin Smith (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)
Louise Smith (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)
Louise Smith (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) A Myrtle Beach father and his wife remain behind bars after his children bravely outlined to school officials the alleged mental and physical abuse they had endured over the course of a weekend earlier in the month.

According to an Horry County Police Department report obtained by WMBF News, an officer responded to the guidance office at Forestbrook Middle School on Nov. 14 after an 11-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl complained of abuse they had endured at the hands of their father and stepmother.

The report stated the complainant had contacted the Department of Social Services a week prior in regards to the children, however, DSS did not open an investigation at that time, so she contacted the police.

When the officer spoke with the children, they said they were not allowed to leave their house on the weekends and were forced to write lines of house rules from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. If at anytime they stopped, the children said they were forced to stand in a corner for the rest of the day and were only allowed to eat brunch and dinner.

Both children had been living with their paternal grandmother since they were born, and had only recently moved in with their father, 31-year-old Benjamin Smith and his wife, 28-year-old Louise Smith.

According to the children, they were only allowed to take showers on Sunday nights "because their step-mom said the water bill went up when they moved in with them."

For meals, the children said they were only allowed 10 minutes to eat and if they did not finish their food, both Smiths would put hot sauce all over the food and made the children eat it the next day. They also said they were only allowed 30 minutes to do their homework each night.

Punishment ranged from Louise Smith allegedly pounding their hands on the table to beating the boy with a thick leather belt and a curtain rod.

The children said on Nov. 12, they began writing lines around 10:30 a.m. and at some point, the boy stopped writing. Louise Smith then told him to go to his room and stand in the corner, according to the children. When he did so, he said she came in and spanked him on his backside with the belt about five times over his pants. Between then and lunch, she allegedly spanked him twice more for not standing still.

When Benjamin Smith returned home, he allegedly began yelling at the boy. His sister told the officer she could hear the Smiths tell him "don't scream, clutch onto this pillow. If you move, you'll get it even harder." The girl said she could hear her brother screaming that it hurt and the Smiths responded that they didn't care.

The boy told the officer that during the incident, his father made him pull his pants down and then struck the boy on his bare backside about 20 times with the belt. Smith then allegedly hit him across the knuckles with a wooden curtain rod because he'd eaten some candy without asking.

Then, on Nov. 13, the children said the boy was forced to stand facing the wall between the bookcase and a computer desk that was just his size while the girl was allowed to watch movies all day.

Around 10 a.m., they said they ate breakfast and then the boy had to stand at the wall again, where Louise Smith hit him with the curtain rod because he wouldn't stand still. After lunch, Louise Smith then allegedly struck the boy in the head with the curtain rod twice and then she hit him in the head with her hand, causing his forehead to strike the wall.

According to the children, Louise Smith calls them "rotten little twerps" and says they are "book smart and street stupid." She also would constantly call her husband and say "he better come home or call and check to see if he still has kids because she's about to kill them or rip their heads off," the children told the officer.

The children then said that their father didn't used to treat them that way and he does whatever his wife tells him to.

The officer found a lump on the boy's head consistent with being hit with the curtain rod and also saw bruising on his lower back at his belt line. DSS was then called and a worker came to the school to talk with the children.

During her visit, she asked the boy to show them the wounds on his backside. According to the report, the officer observed the boy's entire backside severely bruised and riddled with outlines of a belt.

The officer then called Benjamin Smith to advise him that they were taking his children into emergency protective custody, and he had the option to sign them over to a relative so they wouldn't be placed into a foster home. According to the officer, Smith refused and was then asked to meet with the DSS worker.

According to the report, Louise Smith could be heard screaming in the background that the police "should have the [expletive] to come to the house and take care of this." The officer then advised Benjamin Smith that he should leave his wife at home, because she would be placed under arrest if she came to the school acting the way she had been over the phone.

The children were then placed into the custody of their grandmother and Benjamin and Louise Smith were arrested after an investigation on Tuesday.

Both have been charged with two counts of unlawful neglect of a child and have both received $5,000 bonds. Online booking records from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center indicate that both remain incarcerated at this time.

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