Couple charged with aggravated battery to a child

Couple charged with aggravated battery to a child

URBANA — An Urbana couple accused of using excessive corporal punishment on their children has been criminally charged in Champaign County Circuit Court.

Urbana police Lt. Bryant Seraphin said his department was notified Thursday night after three girls were brought to Carle Foundation Hospital by representatives of the Department of Children and Family Services.

Medical professionals there found various scars, welts and healing wounds, mostly on the legs of the girls, which ultimately led to the arrests of their parents, Cheryl L. Smith, 44, and Eric A. Smith, 44, of the 1500 block of South Abercorn Street, for aggravated battery to a child.

Seraphin said one of the children told an Urbana Middle School counselor on Thursday that she was reluctant to go home because of punishment she feared she would receive there. After talking to her, school officials made the decision to contact DCFS, which began its investigation.

DCFS took protective custody of the children on Thursday.

Seraphin said Cheryl Smith was arrested at Carle Hospital while Eric Smith was arrested later at home.

Both were charged Friday with two counts each of aggravated battery to a child that allegedly happened between the first of the year and Wednesday.

One of the counts is a Class X felony alleging they caused great bodily harm to one girl. The other count is a Class 3 felony alleging bodily harm to another girl. Both counts allege that the couple struck the girls with a cord, a belt and a hand.

If convicted of the more serious charge, the Smiths face six to 30 years in prison.

Judge Tom Difanis set bond for each of the Smiths at $250,000 and told them to be back in court March 22 with their own attorneys.

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