Group working to prevent child abuse and neglect in Alabama

CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT) — The mother of a 1-year-old boy, and her boyfriend, both sit in jail on Friday. Jeffery Brown and Crystal Ballenger are charged with aggravated child abuse. They told Cullman County investigators Hoss Benham drowned in the bathtub March 11th.That was also the child’s first birthday.

Investigators are waiting for the official cause of death from the medical examiner. Brown and Ballenger remain in jail on $30,000 bond each. Although investigators asked for details of baby Hoss’s injuries discovered after his death to be released, the abuse can only be described as torture.

One-year-old Hoss Benham was a prisoner in this trailer, with no voice to call for help.

CASA case manager Lana Thornton says 32 children were killed by abuse and neglect in Alabama in the last year, Benham is now on that list.  She has 23 “court-appointed special advocates” volunteering in Cullman County. Workers say complacency by those around abused children is one of the biggest problems, such as, ignoring a bruise or a burn on a child’s arm. They say if you suspect something, call the authorities and ask them to investigate.

CASA is currently helping 37 children; their only consolation is that baby Hoss will never have to suffer again. Police say calls about suspicious behavior are anonymous. Just tell them to stop by a residence if you’re concerned and they will look into it.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-CBS42

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