Teen whipped, tied to chair for using video game chat room

HENRY COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Two people are now facing charges, accused of criminal confinement and domestic battery involving a 15-year-old victim in Henry County.

Investigators said the victim told them she was tied to a chair with a horse lead shank and whipped with a leather strap for horses by her mother and stepfather.

She told them they punished her for using the computer to get into a video game chat room.

The incident happened last December at the family’s home in Mooreland.

Health advocates told 24-Hour News 8 the details of the case are upsetting and disturbing.

“It’s pretty horrific,” said Gerard Cyranowski, Meridian Health Services Regional Vice President.

Police arrested Michelle Winter and Wayne Houston in connection to the crime. The investigation began when police responded to a welfare check to help find a 15-year-old girl, who left home. Police found her and she told them “she was in trouble.”

According to court documents, she said Houston placed a horse lead shank around her neck. He also wrapped it around the base of the chair so she couldn’t move.

She said her mom hit her several times with a leather strap meant for horses.

Court documents show investigators took photos of red marks on the girl’s neck and legs. Advocates said talking about what happened can be traumatizing for child victims.

“Within the kind of supportive confined of the child advocacy center, the child can be interviewed,” he said. “Again going through the process once, but having the support of all those team members.”

Meridian Health Services opened a Child Advocacy Center in Delaware County years ago. The CAC is a place where children can feel comfortable talking about what happened. The interview is done once in a friendly environment and can help investigators pursue reports and prosecutions.

“Prior to the child advocacy center opening, roughly 25 percent of child abuse and neglect cases were actually prosecuted,” he said. “That number now is around 80 percent.”

Winter and Houston have an initial hearing on Jan. 20.

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