Child Abuse Cases Illustrate Need To Report Trouble To Authorities

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 22, 2013 Updated Aug 22, 2013 at 5:28 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Speaking up for a defenseless child.

Two Allen County child abuse cases point out the need for witnesses to report problems to authorities, even when it's not easy.

Indeed, you can get in a lot of trouble if you stay silent.

One local man is in hot water with the law on charges just filed, while a Fort Wayne woman has now pleaded guilty to felonies, related to the abuse of young children, one of them a four-year old.

26-year old Christa Shaffer-Schuchman pleaded guilty Thursday to two child neglect charges.

Court papers indicate her live-in boyfriend Jason Morlan whipped Schuchman's girls with a belt, kicked one of the girls in the genitals with his cowboy boots and shoved the other girl's head into a wall.

Records say emergency responders were summoned to a home to deal with one of the girls late last year, who was lying on a floor unconscious.

Tests later showed she had suffered from brain hemorrhaging.

Doctors documented bruises all over the bodies of both girls.

Schuchman never reported the abuse.

In a separate case, Lee Rager faces a new charge of child neglect, after authorities say he was living with Diana Haley last year and never spoke up when Haley allegedly whipped her son with a belt, routinely kept him locked in his room, and tied him up, in the boy's words like, “Jesus on the cross".

Experts acknowledge sometimes a witness feels intimidated into not reporting abuse.

" All of that said, they still are the primary person that is responsible for the child's safety, and we ask them to please find the strength and the courage to report. They too can report anonymously, and so then, the help can be gotten into the child and for them," said Rachel Tobin-Smith, the executive director of a local agency called SCAN, which stands for Stop Child Abuse and Neglect.

If someone sees abuse or child neglect, he or she can report it to the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.

The number is 1-800-800-5556.

Christa Shaffer-Schuchman faces a six-year prison sentence, if a judge accepts her guilty plea in late October.

She is scheduled to testify against Jason Morlan, when he stands trial in October.

Meanwhile, a preliminary plea of not guilty was entered on Thursday for Lee Rager, who will have a public defender appointed to represent him in his case.

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