A Campbell County couple has been indicted on charges they abused a seven-year-old girl.
Ashely Ledford and Brandon Stepp were indicted last week on three counts each of aggravated child abuse and neglect in a child under 8 years of age. The alleged victim is Stepp’s daughter.
The couple was initially arrested in February (2018) after a concerned physician notified EMS that a child needed to be seen at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH), according to the arrest report.
When EMS arrived at Stepp’s home, he and his daughter were outside. Stepp told the first responders his daughter had been ill with the flu for roughly four days, and that he woke up earlier that day to find the child’s “eye bruised and swollen shut.” The doctor who treated his daughter recommended she be seen at ETCH for further testing, but Stepp failed to take her. A lack of “gas and good tires” had prevented him from seeking medical care for the child, according to the report. When the local physician learned this, he dispatched the EMS crew to transport the child.
Crews found the child “thin and pale” with a “large swollen bruise” over her left eye and cheek, the report said. She also allegedly had a bruise on the bridge of her nose, a knot on the left side of her head, along with bruises on the scalp and above her ear.
A disclosure from the little girl named Ledford as her abuser and her father as being complicit with the abuse. Ledford had “whooped” her while her father did nothing to stop her, the child disclosed. After further questioning, the child told authorities Ledford had been repeatedly abusing her.
Ledford allegedly struck the child frequently “all over her body” and would strike her in the head, pull her hair and squeeze parts of her body, the report said.
Staff at ETCH reported the bruises on the child’s face had been “intentional.”
Ledford and Stepp are due in court April 29. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/22/2019-6AM)