Dec. 14, 2006
NASHUA – A city woman forced her 10-year-old daughter to stand nearly naked in a corner for two nights in a row while writing in a notebook, and sprayed her with water to keep her awake, police charge.
Theresa Bergeron, 35, of 13 Salem St., was arrested Tuesday night and remained jailed after being arraigned on a felony assault charge Wednesday in Nashua District Court.
Her daughter suffered swelling and bruises to her feet and has been removed from Bergeron’s custody pending further hearings.
Bergeron’s partner, Chris France, and a neighbor both corroborated the girl’s account of the alleged abuse, according to a police report filed in Nashua District Court.
Police also found evidence in the home that matched the girl’s version of events, including a notebook in which the girl had been forced to write, “I will stop farting it’s rude” 578 times while standing for 15 hours in the corner, dressed only in socks and panties.Bergeron denied that she abused her daughter, but admitted to making her stand in a corner as a “time out” for up to three hours, and to locking her in her bedroom every night for the past six months. Bergeron told Detective Michael Moushegian she needed to keep her daughter out of the medicine cabinet, he reported.
The girl reported the abuse to teachers at Mount Pleasant Elementary School on Tuesday, after one noticed she was limping, police reported. The girl was examined by Dr. Debra Garlin in Merrimack and later interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center, Moushegian, the lead investigator, reported.
The girl said her mother calls her names, and tells her that she hates her, and locks her in her bedroom at night. Because the girl was unable to use the bathroom at night, she was forced to urinate in a heating vent in her room, for which her mother also punished her, the girl disclosed.
Bergeron once made her daughter wear a diaper, and sent her to school with a sign on her backpack reading “I wear diapers,” a teacher told police, and the girl said her mother sometimes withheld food and soap as punishment.
The girl told a teacher earlier in the year her mother had said she didn’t want her anymore, and she and France wanted a new baby. Bergeron warned her daughter about foster care, however, saying it was a place “where babies are piled up in cages,” Moushegian reported.
Bergeron sometimes ripped up her daughter’s homework, the girl told teachers. Despite the alleged abuse, her teacher described the girl as “an ambitious, good-natured student who has never shown any signs of disrespectful behavior in the classroom or school,” Moushegian reported.
In addition to being punished for passing gas, the girl also was punished for laughing while showering, for taking pencils from school, for failing to finish meals and for disobedience, witnesses told police.
On Sunday night, the girl said, her mother made her stay up all night, standing in a corner beside a TV stand, and write “I will stop being ignorant and defiant” in a notebook. The girl fell asleep in class the following Monday, her teacher told police.
After school Monday, the girl said, her mother again made her stand in the corner, from 3 p.m. Monday until 8 a.m. Tuesday, while writing a promise to stop farting. Both nights, the girl said her mother sprayed her with a water bottle to keep her awake. Police found a spray bottle, and water stains on the notebook, Moushegian reported.
Bergeron is being held on $10,000 bail on a second-degree assault charge, which carries a maximum of 3½ to seven years in prison. She faces a probable cause hearing Dec. 26 in Nashua District Court.
The head of the police Youth Services Division, Detective Lt. Jeffrey Bukunt, declined to comment on whether police plan to file any further charges in the case, saying detectives are still investigating.
Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.