A Berea couple charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12 waived their rights to have preliminary hearings Wednesday and sent their cases to a Madison County grand jury for possible indictment.
Ryan Lee Whitaker, 28, and his wife, Debbie Whitaker, 23, were arrested Friday morning by Berea police on the charges when they appeared in Madison District Court on fourth-degree assault charges in the case which were dismissed, said Capt. Ken Clark, Berea Police Department spokesman.
“The assault charges were dismissed and they were both charged for criminal abuse of their 3-year-old child,” Clark said.
According to the arrest warrants obtained by Berea police, both Ryan and Debbie Whitaker are accused of “kicking, hitting and slapping” the child for the past two years, Clark said.
Clark said the assault charges, which were misdemeanors, were dismissed because Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith’s office wanted to prosecute felony charges against the couple.
Senior Judge David Hayse reduced bond for both Ryan and Debbie Whitaker to 10 percent of a $2,500 cash bond each, with the condition that upon release, each must be monitored by pre-trial services.
Police had previously charged Ryan Whitaker with reckless abuse of an adult, a Class A misdemeanor, following an April incident involving two patients he was transporting to a day care facility in Richmond.
“That came up while we were investigating the abuse of his child,” Clark said.
Whitaker was accused of attempting to have the two patients engage in sexual contact with each other inside the van he was driving as an employee of P Cab Company.
The victims reported the incident to day care officials when they arrived, and the father of one of the victims later went to the Berea Police Department to file charges, Berea police said following Whitaker’s April 15 arrest.
He pleaded guilty Friday to the charge and received a 360-day sentence, but 300 days are probated for two years and will receive credit for time already served in the Madison County Detention Center.
Brian Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6694.