Jack Walden III told police he was "teaching her a lesson" when he forced his 6-year-old niece to drink her own urine. Now authorities want to teach him one.
"That's just deplorable," Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Jo Ann Nutter said. "There's punishment, and there's punishment. But that's criminal."
Investigator Nutter said Mr. Walden discovered that his niece had urinated into a cup and was trying to make her younger sister drink it. To punish the older child, Mr. Walden told her to drink the urine, police said.
"It's not healthy punishment," Investigator Nutter said.
Mr. Walden, 29, of Pickerel Lane, was charged with a felony count of cruelty to children, punishable by a sentence of five to 20 years in jail. He told police he works as a youth counselor at Three Springs Augusta, a private alcohol and drug treatment center for youths on Mike Padgett Highway.
The incident occurred July 8 at Mr. Walden's home, and an investigation led to his arrest Monday afternoon. Police say the nieces, ages 6 and 3, were visiting from Miami and had been staying with Mr. Walden.
Police say Mr. Walden whipped the girl when she refused to drink the urine. She eventually drank about a half-ounce and complained afterward that her stomach hurt, Investigator Nutter said.
The girls' grandmother, Mattie Williams, called from Miami to check on the children, and Mr. Walden told her that he had to punish the 6-year-old. When the girl got on the phone, she told her grandmother that her uncle had "made her drink pee-pee," Investigator Nutter said.
The girl's mother, Laura Williams, notified the sheriff's office about the incident. When he was interviewed, Mr. Walden told police that he was "teaching her a lesson."
Authorities have investigated several adults this year for child discipline that went too far, including a mother and her live-in boyfriend who were charged with torturing the woman's 7-year-old son. Police say the couple bound him with cords, immersed him in hot water and burned him with matches.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.