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"Screwed up" parenting: Ill. couple accused of forcing boy to eat screws, do 1,000 pushups

Lashawn Jennings (left), and James Jennings (right)
CBS/KMOV-TV
(CBS) BELLEVILLE, Ill. - The adoptive mother of an Illinois boy who police say was forced by his stepfather to do hundreds of pushups and eat two screws as punishment has been charged with misdemeanor child endangerment.

Prosecutors in St. Clair County charged Lashawn Jennings, 39, on Saturday. Her husband, James Jennings, already had been charged with aggravated battery, domestic battery and child endangerment. He remains jailed on $400,000 bond.

CBS St. Louis reports police began investigating last week after the 12-year-old boy reported the alleged abuse to a nurse at an elementary school, who then discovered bruises on the child's back and arms.

Investigators said the child was beaten and tortured by Jennings earlier that morning at their home on Scott Air Force Base property.

The Belleville News Democrat reports that the boy was severely punished because he got crumbs on the floor after eating cookies. St. Clair County Sheriff's Office Capt. Steve Johnson said James Jennings beat the boy with a wooden paddle, made him eat screws and forced him to do over 1,000 push-ups as punishment. KMOV-TV reports that X-rays showed the screws inside the boy's stomach.

Authorities say Lashawn Jennings was in Florida at the time of her husband's alleged misconduct. She flew in from Florida and was interviewed and taken into custody.

She is being held on $20,000 bail. Investigators said they are also looking into allegations of previous abuse.


  • Crimesider Staff

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