ST. MARYS — The majority of charges filed against a St. Marys woman, who allegedly burned a three-year-old with chemicals, locked him in a cage, and put him on a leash, were bound to court following a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning.
Arwen Anastasia Kuhn, 38, 630 Brusselles St., St. Marys, is charged by St. Marys police with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of children, assault, and recklessly endangering another person. A charge of terroristic threats was dismissed Tuesday. Charges were filed by St. Marys police Aug. 10, 2017.
During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Kuhn’s lawyer, Shelley Duff of Pittsburgh, argued that there was no evidence connecting Kuhn to the crime, adding that it was suspect that the boy’s parents were currently being investigated for child endangerment for incidents previous to Kuhn’s time with the toddler.
Duff added, after looking at multiple photographs of the boy’s injuries, that the bruises were already yellow and purple, or “not fresh,” according to Duff, and that if the child appeared to be emaciated, it couldn’t have occurred within the three days he had been with Kuhn.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Nov. 3, 2016, St. Marys police were called to Penn Highlands Elk by Elk County Control for an incident of child abuse.
Upon arrival, police spoke to the three-year-old victim’s father who said the child was dropped off by him on Oct. 31 at Kuhn’s residence.
When he picked the child up on Nov. 2, he noticed there was a bandage around the youngster’s stomach. When he peeled it off, there was a scab around the boy’s bellybutton and bruises on his head.
When asked to explain the injuries Tuesday on the stand, St. Marys police Officer Ralph Tettis Jr. said, “There were multiple injuries. It was just too extensive....There were bruises all over the body.”
He also added from the stand that in interviews with Kuhn, she told police that the boy’s parents had told her to act like a drill sergeant while he was in her care because he had behavioral issues.
As Kuhn and her attorney reviewed multiple photos of the child’s injuries, Kuhn repeatedly gasped and whispered repeatedly, “I never saw any of that.”
At Penn Highlands Elk, nurses said the scab on the child’s bellybutton was consistent with a chemical burn. They also noted bruises on the child’s leg, scabs on his foot, and bruises on his back and forehead.
The hospital sent the toddler to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, which confirmed the child had chemical burns around his bellybutton and on his feet. His eyes were also red and hurt in the light.
According to Tettis’ testimony, Dr. Eichman at Children’s Hospital said the toddler’s injuries were consistent with child abuse.
On Nov. 8, 2016, a forensic interview was conducted with the boy who said that Kuhn had hurt him by dropping him on his stomach and spraying peroxide in his eyes.
According to police, Kuhn had taken videos of some of the abuse, which showed her yelling at the boy, grabbing him and pushing him to run 20 laps while he was on the ground crying. She also put him on a leash to keep him from getting candy and put him in a dog cage, according to court records, although no photographs of that cage were provided in court.
Tettis added during his testimony that the father’s fiancé refused to speak to police.
District Judge Mark Jacob of St. Marys said that Kuhn’s bail will remain at $25,000, unsecured.
Her case will now be bound over to the Elk County Court of Common Pleas.