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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local November 25, 2015

2/25/2013 10:33:00 PM
Woman accused of abusing girl to get competency exam
Herminia Mitchell
Herminia Mitchell
Jerome Mitchell
Jerome Mitchell
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

Correction: In the story on Jerome and Herminia Mitchell's court appearance, the Courier was in error regarding their charges. Only Herminia faces charges of child molestation. There also were references in the Prescott Police probable cause statement to both of them having spanked the victim, but only Herminia used a belt.

PRESCOTT - A couple accused of physically abusing a 4-year-old girl made separate appearances in court Monday, and the woman now faces a mental competency examination.

Jerome Mitchell, 60, and Herminia Ibarra-Mitchell, 60, were arrested on Jan. 15. Jerome was accused of child abuse, and Herminia was accused of child abuse and child molestation. A police report said the girl's school called Prescott Valley police when a teacher noticed scratches and "extensive bruising" on the girl.

The school official who made the call said that she had training and experience that led her to believe the girl was an abuse victim, the report said, and she found bruises over "a large portion of her body."

The victim told police that she didn't want to tell them how she got the injuries because a family member "told her not to talk about it or tell anyone," according to a probable cause statement.

When police spoke to the Mitchells, Jerome said he had spanked the girl but could not explain the other injuries, the statement said, and Herminia also said she had spanked the girl with a belt and "stated she was the one who had caused the bruises but could not explain how or where they occurred."

The victim was taken to the hospital, where she was examined. While there, she told a nurse that the previous day, Herminia had sexually molested her as a means of punishment, the statement said, and that was confirmed in the hospital's exam as well.

Jerome was indicted on a child abuse charge; Herminia, child abuse and a count of sexual conduct with a minor.

Monday, the Mitchells appeared before Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley.

Jerome's attorney, Daniel Kaiser, asked for and was granted a continuance.

Herminia's lawyer, Andrew Falick, struggled to keep her from speaking out. Ainley said she would order a preliminary mental competency examination, after which Herminia began asking the judge, "Why am I here? I want to know why I am here."

Ainley told her to address her questions to Falick, who would answer them, but she continued, saying, "That's what they keep telling me."

As deputies escorted her from the courtroom, she said, "I am leaving for Mexico," and "I don't know what the hell is going on."

She is being held at the Camp Verde jail on $15,000 bond. Jerome is out of custody, also on a $15,000 bond.

Related Stories:
• Prescott Valley man gets 12 months probation for suspected child abuse
• Man takes plea in child abuse case, does not admit fault

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Article comment by: Family Member

Cast stones.... What happened to innocent until proven guilt?! Everyone has a right to an opinion however will the truth ever be brought to light... I hope one day it is!!!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Denise Williams

I don't have answers to all or any of these people's legitimate questions. I do however, have another question. Why were two underage girls placed in the home of people that do not hold a foster care license? Are they that desperate that they place children with anyone who asks for them?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

What is the relationship of these two and the little girl? Parents, grand parents, neighbors, met on the street ????? Lots of questions. Many many thanks to the school official for taking the time to get involved. Still lots of questions here.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: I Dont Get It

My husband and I tried adopting or fostering a child. We have so much to offer besides love. We passed all the home examinations but because he is a truck driver we were told that we would not be good enough parents. We have raised one child, who graduated, went on to colllege and never was in jail or trouble, never ended up pregnant or on drugs. Yet the system gives children to scum ...? I dont get it.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Poor Headline Choice

So, she abused a girl in order to get a competency exam?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Grandparents ?

Where are the parents and why is the man out of custody? ...

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