Lakechia Schonta Stanley
St. Louis Police Department

A St. Louis woman was sentenced to 78 years in prison for repeatedly abusing her children in what prosecutors called “systematic torture,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported

According to the Post-Dispatch, Lakechia Schonta Stanley admitted to beating, whipping and waterboarding her children. Stanley was caught after the abuse was reported to a school librarian in the fall of 2011. She was charged with 34 felonies, including multiple counts of assault and child endangerment, the news site notes.

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The pattern of abuse unraveled when one of the children, a girl who was 10 at the time, went to school and complained about pain in her arm. The girl said that Stanley had beaten her with a baseball bat for failing to clean the kitchen quickly enough. The girl also told the librarian that her younger sister, then 8, was beaten with a bat because she spent too much time in the shower.

The older girl’s arm was described as cold and hard, and when she was taken to the hospital, it was revealed that her arm had been subject to such severe trauma that blood flow had been restricted.

In interviews, the girls detailed repeated abuse, which included waterboarding, whippings with electrical cords and being beaten with blunt objects. 

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"What the defendant did to three of her own children far exceeds the definition of child abuse and amounts to systematic torture," Assistant Circuit Attorney Tanja Engelhardt wrote in a sentencing memorandum, the Post-Dispatch reported. "She was supposed to be their mother, the one person they could trust. Instead she became a symbol of betrayal and fear, using every tool at her disposal to beat and torture her own innocent children."

Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.