Gwinnett County, Georgia – A woman got a new husband and allowed the man to do whatever he wanted to her child.
Rimmon Lewis, 32, is accused of beating, starving and causing mental pain and extensive physical pain to a 13-year-old girl, who is now in state custody.
Lewis along with the child’s mother, Angela Strothers, 33, were arrested in April and released on bond. After looking into the case, prosecutors added more charges and indicted the couple in late November.
A prosecutor called the indictment of the mother and step-father “one of the most severe cases of child abuse” she’s seen in a long time.
Court records accuse Lewis of being the main culprit. He’s accused of “repeatedly locking the girl in a laundry room for hours on end and forcing her to, among other things, complete “standards” that included standing “barefoot on food cans while writing ‘I will respect my father,’ 1,000 times, on pieces of paper”. This happened almost on a daily basis,” said prosecutor Tracie Cason.
13-year-old girl forced to eat catfood by step-father
Cason says the teenager was beaten and starved as well.
“There were times she was only allowed to eat cat food, and there were times she wasn’t allowed to eat at all, until the defendant decided she could eat,” Cason said.
Investigators say the girl was locked in a laundry room for extended periods of time … so long that she urinated and defecated on herself.
The indictment also says Lewis abused the girl “by telling the child to stop stuttering” and “pushing his thumbs into the mouth of (victim) with such force as to split the corners of her mouth and with such severity to leave scarring to both corners of her mouth.”
The 13-year-old would also be forced to squat against a door with her head under the doorknob, and if she moved before Lewis allowed her to, he would beat her with a wooden table leg, authorities say.
She would not be allowed to eat if she hadn’t completed her standards for the day.
The indictment states that Lewis beat his stepdaughter with a belt and the table leg, punched her in the head and stomach, and kicked her in the vaginal area.
Prosecutors also say the girl was also forced to take baths in either extremely hot or cold water, and either peroxide or lemon juice was added.
Often times the girl would be “forced to sleep in her urine-soaked clothing and go to school wearing said urine-soaked clothing.”
She was also forced to drink laundry detergent.
Counselors at the girl’s middle school became concerned earlier this year and called police. The counselor noticed that she had been injured and was hungry throughout the year.
Gwinnett County Police charged Lewis and Strothers each with one count of abuse, but prosecutors say as they looked into the case, they realized it was much worse than first believed and had apparently gone on for years.
“It’s amazing to me how this child survived as long as she did,” Cason said.
The child was subject to “excessive physical pain” through various beatings detailed across several of the indictment’s charges.
Records show Lewis has been in trouble for similar actions before.
Authorities say he entered into a negotiated guilty plea in 2014 for abuse surrounding the same girl. He was given credit for time served and put on probation.
These most recent charges are a violation of that probation, according to prosecutors, so Lewis was sentenced this summer to 5 years in prison. The girl’s mother remains out on bond.
“It’s our understanding they moved from Cobb County to Gwinnett County to avoid DFCS’ attention,” Cason told Thomas.
Prosecutors say while Strothers didn’t necessarily directly cause any of the abuse, she knew of the starvation and beatings.
They accuse her of also reporting to her husband when the child would not follow his rules.
On one occasion, in March, Strothers found her daughter sleeping on the couch without Lewis’ permission, so she did as he instructed and threw her out the house, the indictment says.
Authorities say in the short time between when Lewis was charged with these latest crimes and then sent to prison, he violated a judge’s order not to have any contact with his stepdaughter.
Investigators say, through his wife, he bought the girl clothes, told her he was sorry for what happened, and promised there would be no abuse in the future.
That got him an added charge of stalking from the grand jury.
Lewis is charged with 15 counts of first-degree cruelty to children, four counts of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated stalking. He is also charged with for violating his probation.
Strothers has also been charged with stalking and four counts of child abuse.
Lewis, who was sentenced to 12 months in prison and 10 years probation in 2014, for his previous arrest for child abuse involving his stepdaughter, has been jailed for five years for violating his probation, on that case.
Strothers has been released on bond.
Her daughter, and four other children, have been seized by the Georgia Department of Family and Child Services.
Several reports state the girl is severely disfigured due to the amount of abuse she suffered. Carson said it will take years for the girl to recover.
“It’s amazing that she was able to survive given the circumstances of what she had to go through.”
“She was not allowed to eat with the family. She was not allowed to eat until her step father determined that she could eat, and when she was allowed to eat, often she was only given leftovers while the family ate a full, hot meal; Or she was given PB&J or at times she was made to eat cat food.”