Alleged cattle prod child abuse prompts investigation

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News 12 at 11, September 11, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt calls it the most shocking case of child abuse he's ever seen. A couple is accused of using a handheld cattle prod on two children.

Now, the family says this wasn't the first sign of trouble. DSS says they will now investigate their own actions regarding the case, and the children involved.

The handheld cattle prod in question packs a 4,500 volt punch. Aiken authorities say Dana and Kip Smith used it repeatedly on Dana's two oldest sons, ages 12 and 14.

Dana's grandmother Mary says she confronted Dana about it before her arrest. "She said to me it didn't hurt them. She said it don't even leave a mark. She said it just leaves them scared."

And Mary says this wasn't the first sign of trouble. "They've had whippings on top pf whippings, I'm telling you these kids have been through some terrible terrible stuff."

Mary remembers one beating the 14-year-old allegedly suffered years ago. "He dropped his pants and his butt was pure mushy..purple."

Mary says she's had Dana's three sons handed over to her three different times. Family members say Dana's lost custody a total of six times since her oldest son was born.

DSS hasn't released an exact number to News 12. But they did release a statement via Virginia Williamson: "We're taking a look at records, and are working out a timeline to see how the kids were treated. ... We are reviewing our records to see how we handled the case, particularly in light of what we're seeing now in our investigation."

Mary says she's upset with DSS because they've handed the children back over to Dana "one too many times." Now she hopes this will finally be the last one. "I'm getting too old and before I die, I'd love to know them kids ain't never going to be beat no more."

Mary added the family has spent thousands of dollars over the years to win custody of the boys, something they are still fighting right now. Mary also told News 12 DSS has allowed Dana to see the children since her latest arrest, and they're afraid that like every time in the past, Dana will eventually regain custody.

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