Charges: Provo couple reportedly used water torture on girl for getting up after bedtime

December 19, 2018
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Ilaria Mitchell

A Provo couple is facing felony charges after reportedly using water torture on a 9-year-old girl when she went to get a drink from the kitchen after her bedtime.

Joseph Mitchell, 29, and Ilaria Mitchell, 28, were charged with four counts of child abuse, three charges filed as second-degree felonies and one as a class A misdemeanor.

The 9-year-old girl told investigators that on Dec. 3, Joseph and Ilaria Mitchell had reportedly tied her hands behind her back, held her down in a bathtub and put a towel over her face.

The couple then repeatedly poured water over the towel onto her face for at least five minutes, according to court documents. The girl was reportedly forced to stay in the bathtub for 15 minutes.

“She stated she couldn’t hear anything they were saying and couldn’t breathe while the water was being poured. She stated that Ilaria told her at some point during the event that she ‘could die from this happening,’” charging documents stated.

The girl told investigators the couple was punishing her for going into the kitchen to get a drink after her bedtime, reports state.

The torture happened three times in the past with both parents, including a time in November when the girl had “eaten some frosting when she wasn’t supposed to,” according to court documents.

Joseph Mitchell had reportedly taken the girl to the hospital on the same day the abuse occurred in December. Medical staff found cuts and bruises on the girl’s body, as well as a mark on her wrist that was consistent with her hands being tied, court records reported.

“She stated that her father told her not to tell anyone about this,” prosecutors wrote in the charging document.

The girl also told investigators that the couple had punished her by forcing her to do physical exercise or hitting her with a belt, hanger or broom. Charging documents state at one point Ilaria Mitchell had reportedly hit the girl in the face and made her nose bleed.

Investigators spoke with two other children in the home who said the couple would hit them with hangers, belts, shoes and a cell phone charger.

The 9-year-old girl “gets punished more than the other children because she often acts out,” the children told investigators, according to charging documents.

In interviews with police officers, court documents reported Joseph Mitchell denied abusing the children.

The couple was arrested on Dec. 13 and paid the $50,000 bail the following day.

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