“A Green Bay woman is accused of using belts and sticks to beat her young children. Authorities were tipped off about the abuse by a local church pastor.
Kim Catrice Fruin, 42, is charged with three counts of Physical Abuse of a Child, Repeated Acts Causing Bodily Harm; and three counts of Child Neglect.
On March 16, Green Bay Police and Child Protective Services responded to Berwyn Avenue for a welfare check on three children ages 8, 10 and 12. CPS received a report from the children’s pastor about abuse in the Fruin home and the children having scars, marks and bruises.
“It’s going to take a little time to get an understanding, but yeah… it’s concerning that a mom would do this to her kids,” says Lt. Rick Belanger, Green Bay Police Department. “It’s a pretty disturbing case.”
A 14-page criminal complaint chronicles a long list of abuse against three small children, using multiple weapons, mostly thick tree limbs or metal objects.
The document details, room-by-room, the makeshift weapons Fruin had waiting for her kids: a belt hanging from the kitchen chair, a living room closet filled with bamboo sticks and rods, and wooden boards kept in her son’s bedroom closet.
Police found between 40 and 50 scars on that same boy during their investigation.
Fruin’s children, two girls and one boy, told police they had been, “hit with sticks and belts inside the home.”
What the children refer to as “sticks” ranged from a 1.5 foot long wooden board, to a 4.5 to 5 foot long wooden board, as well as table legs, metal spatulas and a metal curtain rod.
Fruin told officials she used some of these items for “decorations and projects.”
Fruin said she would break the slates into smaller pieces and used them to hit the kids when they misbehave, according to the complaint.
While spanking your child is legal, officials say this type of beating is more severe than ordinary punishment.
“Open hand slap … we read cases where somebody got open hand slapped. But if it leaves marks, if you see somebody’s hand impression on a cheek, that kind of crosses the line,” Lt. Belanger says.
The children were taken to a local hospital where it was found they had wounds all over their bodies. Some were white and considered older, while others were still red and scabbing.
During the investigation, an officer, “asked them when the last time they had been hit by mom and they said, ‘In the morning.’”
Experts say this physical abuse is different than everyday bruises a playful child might have.
“If there’s bruises that have a distinct pattern, like a belt mark or if they have a bite mark, or like a hand print,” says Megan Hackle, a forensic interviewer and advocate at Willow Tree. “If they don’t usually have bruises and they all the sudden are having bruises, that could be a sign.”
The children’s pastor initially reached out to Child Protective Services to report abuse in the home. The kids told her their mom threatened them, saying if they told anyone, they would be beaten or separated from each other.
When police initially arrived at the home, Fruin refused to allow them inside, and lied about her kids being home.
The criminal complaint says she pushed them out the back door, and told them to run to their father’s house nearby.
In the complaint, a responding officer said, “In all of my time as a police officer, I’ve never dealt with a parent who seemed more evasive and afraid of showing their children to police and CPS than she did.”
The complaint goes on to say Fruin, “appeared to show no remorse or care for her children.”
On one occasion, she forced them to stay up until 4:00 a.m. doing chores, threatening to wake them just two hours later. Another time, officials say she forced them on a religious fast, allowing just one meal per day.
Fruin is set to appear in Brown County court on Wednesday March 28, for an adjourned initial appearance.
If you, or someone you know, is being abused, contact law enforcement or Child Protective Services.”