Back in June, doctors at Beaumont's St. Elizabeth hospital were shocked at the condition of their little patient from Silsbee. The three-year-old girl was semi-comatose, suffering from seizures and bruised from head to toe.
After being called by the hospital to investigate, Silsbee police chief Dennis Allen was also mortified.
He counted over 70 bruises on the girl. "The bruises had been caused from whipping, grabbing, etc" he told the Silsbee Bee. "Bruises on her chin were explained by the suspect as having grabbed the child to make her look at her and other bruises from spanking the child with a belt. There are a lot of bruises that are not consistent with just a spanking with a belt. Obviously it has crossed a line."
Allen also said that 31-year-old Wadren Hilger, the girl's aunt and guardian ever since her mom (Hilger's sister) went to prison, admitted that she forced the girl to kneel on uncooked rice for up to ten minutes at a time.
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"The aunt's reasoning was that she was disciplining the child," Allen says. "As far as I'm concerned it was torture."
The girl had been living with Hilger and her husband, and the couple each had one child of their own, both of whom were taken into custody by CPS when Hilger was arrested in June. (Hilger's hubby had taken the girl to the hospital.) Initially charged only with second-degree injury to a child, Hilger posted her $100,000 bond within 30 minutes of her arrest. (Maybe that was why she was smiling in her mugshot.)
The new charges she now faces in the same case might be enough to wipe away the grin: she now faces two third-degree felony charges: injury to a child (for belting the girl) and family violence-assault by choking, and a first-degree felony charge for allegedly shoving the preschooler so hard her head slammed into the floor. Bond for those charges is $250,000 apiece, so she probably won't be out on the streets in 25 minutes this time.
The injured girl's mother was released a little early from her prison sentence so that she could be at her daughter's bedside. After months of treatment at Texas Children's Hospital here in Houston, the girl has since been moved to a Dallas infirmary, where she remains in a semi-comatose state.