FUKUOKA (TR) – As a part of an investigation into the alleged abuse of an 8-year-old girl last year, Fukuoka Prefectural Police have discovered footage showing her mother and her mother’s common-law husband putting her into a bath of cold water with her limbs bound, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 14).
According to police, the girl’s mother, 29, and her common-law husband Jun Yahiro, also 29, placed the girl, who was unclothed, into the cold bath at their residence in Chikushino City such that she was seated with the water level just beneath her mouth and nose at around 6:30 a.m. on December 29.
The hands of the girl, a second-year elementary school student, were bound behind her back while her feet were also tied. Footage of the incident was filmed with a smartphone. The water’s temperature was around 11 degrees Celsius, police said.
Police had previously accused the couple of inflicting injury. However, on Thursday they were further accused of attempted murder after investigators deemed the matter willful negligence due to the risk of death from the cold or drowning, a conclusion based on the footage taken from the seized smartphone.
Both suspects admit to the allegations. The girl’s mother, who was not named, told police, “I recognize that there was the possibility of death.” Meanwhile, Yahiro said that he was “reflecting” upon what he did.
The bath was used as a means of “home discipline.” Yahiro further told police, “If you strike [a child], bruises are left behind, which will result in the abuse being revealed outside,” according to the Mainichi Shimbun (Mar. 14).
Yahiro began living with the girl’s mother last summer. The suspects are believed to have put the girl into the bath on repeated occasions. After filming the sessions, the footage was distributed on the smartphone application Line.
The length of time that the girl remained in the bath each time — usually several hours — was dependent upon the number of predetermined pledges she violated. Posted to her desk was a list of 10 pledges, which included that she not lie and do what she was told, police said.
On January 25, a representative of the girl’s school alerted a child consultation center after finding signs of abuse on her body. The center then reported the matter to police. The girl is currently residing in the center.
In February, police first arrested the couple. The investigation is ongoing.