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Oct 10, 2014 1:10 PM

Western Pa. mother accused of abusing daughter

The Associated Press

BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) A western Pennsylvania woman has been charged with simple assault and other offenses after police say she forced her daughter to eat cat litter and started to sew her mouth shut.

Police charged Rana L. Cooper, 46, this week for what they said was excessive punishment and neglect that also included forcing her to scrape the inside of a toilet and eat what was on her finger and not being allowed to eat or use the bathroom until she earned enough points cleaning the house.

Cooper also was charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of the girl she and her husband, Richard, adopted in 2008.

A phone message left at Cooper's home in Avella was not immediately returned, and district court officials said she did not have a lawyer on file.

The allegations of physical abuse include beatings with a hair brush, being spat on and being choked to the point of blacking out.

The matter came to light in May, as child welfare authorities in Washington County were investigating an alleged assault at the girl's school.

The arrest affidavit filed with Cooper's charges listed other alleged conduct, including not letting the girl eat with the rest of the family, sitting on the girl for minutes at a time, force feeding her until she vomited, making her eat half a tube of toothpaste and jamming a Q-tip into her ear, causing it to bleed.

"If it was time to eat and no one else was around, mother would allow child to eat and would make the child shovel food quickly into her mouth," wrote state police Cpl. Robert Copechal. "Mother would then make the child tell mother that she was eating one of her brothers."

The girl told investigators that Richard Cooper, 51, witnessed her mother choking her. Richard Cooper told Rana Cooper to stop, the girl told authorities, but when she did not he "proceeded to just stand there and watch."

Rana Cooper gave police a written statement last month in which she admitted to holding her daughter's head under water for three to 10 seconds, police said.

The girl has since been removed from the home and put in the care of others.


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