After Finding Toddler’s Tongue Cut in Two, Police Investigate and Make Arrests

January 25, 2019 Updated: January 25, 2019

Two people were arrested in Indiana after a toddler’s tongue was found split in two.

The Terre Haute Police Department launched an investigation after finding a 14-month-old boy at Union Hospital with a split tongue, swollen scrotum, and severe bruises all over his body. The tip of the boy’s tongue was also missing.

When a police officer asked Holly Cota, the child’s mother, about the injuries, she claimed the boy fell out of his crib multiple times and thought that the split tongue came after he bit his tongue.

As for the swollen scrotum, she said that her son “must have straddled the toy box when he fell, accusing damage to his scrotum,” according to the probable cause affidavit, which was obtained by WTHI.

The child was rushed to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. A doctor there told officers that the split tongue was not caused by the boy’s teeth because the teeth don’t run in that direction.

“She [the doctor] said that the cut appeared clean and was not torn which indicated that some type of tool, possibly scissors, were used,” the affidavit stated. “She also said that a piece at the tip of the tongue was missing.”

The other injuries, the doctor said, indicated trauma and not accidental falls.

Cota later told officers that her boyfriend, Scott Edwards, was watching the boy when he was injured, reported the Tribune-Star. She said she was afraid to take the child for medical treatment but eventually did.

Cota was arrested on obstruction of justice charges while Edwards was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, battery, and neglect of a dependent.

holly cota
Holly Cota was arrested on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly lying to investigators who were looking into how her toddler got a split tongue and other injuries. (Terre Haute Police Department)

‘Appalled’

A family friend said that she was appalled by news of the child abuse.

“I am appalled. I am disgusted. My heart hurts,”  Chelsie Loose, a friend of the family for 20 years, told WTHI.

“When that’s all you can think about is that poor baby going through that with nobody for him to be his voice and say stop … you’re hurting me. It just breaks my heart,” she said.

She added, “I mean really, Cameron is lucky to be alive I think. From the description [that] I heard of his injuries at his age … lucky.”

Child Abuse

According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (pdf), approximately 3.5 million children nationwide in 2016 were the subjects of at least one maltreatment report to authorities.

“Child abuse is one of the nation’s most serious concerns,” the authors of the report wrote in the introduction. About 17 percent of those reports were substantiated; the department said that there were an estimated 676,000 victims of child abuse and neglect, or 9.1 victims per 1,000 children.

Children in their first year of life had the highest rate of victimization at 24.8 per 1,000 children of the same age in the national population.

About three-quarters of the cases were neglect while about 18 percent were physical abuse. Some children suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment.

The feet of a newborn baby
A baby in a file photo. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Of the perpetrators of the abuse, more than four-fifths were between the ages of 18 and 44 and more than one-half were women.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so officials can investigate and assess the situation. Most states have a number to call to report abuse or neglect.

To find out where to call, consult the State Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers website. The Childhelp organization also can provide crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. Contact them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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