February 27, 2007
TRENTON, S.C.---A mother is behind bars after deputies say a teenager videotaped her abusing a 12-year-old foster child.
Belinda Cooper of Trenton is charged with assault and neglect by Edgefield County investigators.
Investigators say the video showing Belinda Cooper abusing her foster child was found accidentally after a Strom Thurmond High School student caught a school bus fight on his digital camera. When school resource officers confiscated his camera, they found a much bigger problem on their hands.
"Totally shocking," said school resource officer Charles Reel. "Never saw anything that bad."
Reel couldn't believe his eyes when he saw what he describes as three separate video clips of Belinda Cooper abusing her 12-year-old foster child.
He says her four-year-old biological child was standing back and watching, and her teenage nephew caught it all on tape.
"There's nothing this young man could've done to deserve that," Reel said.
While he says he can't discuss the graphic details of what he saw, the incident report states that in one clip the 12-year-old is seen naked being spanked with a paddle, and in another the child was being hit in the head and face with a leather-type belt.
It also states the child is classified as emotionally disabled.
"I think she knew she was being videotaped," said Cpl. Robbie Harter of the Edgefield County Sheriff's Department. "As far as why is still left unanswered."
When investigators got to the home, they seized several items, including a computer and several martial arts-type weapons including a samurai sword, knives and a bamboo staff.
The Department of Social Services tells News 12, "There were never any signs of this type of activity in the home or any indication at all that would lead to something like this."
"As soon as DSS learned of the situation we did place the child and his sibling in another home."
"Makes me think it's not the only incident out there we don't know about," Reel said.
Cooper's bond has been set at $75,000 dollars. She's being held at the Edgefield County Jail.
Investigators say she's being charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and unlawful neglect of a child. More charges could be pending.
An outside agency, the Out of Home Abuse and Neglect Unit, is now investigating.