A 26-year-old Seattle woman was charged last week in connection with the prolonged physical abuse of three of her children, who were removed from her home and placed in protective custody a year ago and only recently disclosed how they were burned, beaten and whipped by their mother, according to King County prosecutors.
Moriah Connor was arrested March 20 and has since been charged with first-degree assault on a child, two counts of second-degree assault on a child and witness tampering, accused of repeatedly telling the children to lie about how they received their injuries, charging papers say. She remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail, jail records show.
Connor’s two youngest children, a 3-year-old boy and an infant boy who was born addicted to drugs, are also in protective custody in a different foster home from their elder siblings, say the charges.
“Children, who had no choice in having the defendant as their mother, were systematically beaten, whipped, burned, by the one person in this world charged with their care and protection,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Christian Brown wrote in charging papers. “The scars of the physical violence are still present on their bodies as are the deep emotional scars left by such tortious abuse.”
According to the charges:
In March 2019, a Seattle teacher became concerned when an 8-year-old boy came to school with bruises, first on his face and days later, on both arms. The boy and his mother claimed the bruise on his cheek was from a car accident and the bruises on his arms were the result of the boy falling out of bed. The teacher later recalled other times the boy had appeared with bruises, often months apart, which he also said he got from falls.
After the school contacted Child Protective Services (CPS), a social worker sent photos of the boy’s arms to a doctor, who determined the child’s bruises were from being hit with a rod or switch-like object.
Seattle police and CPS took the boy, his younger sister and two younger brothers into protective custody a couple days later. The children were examined at Seattle Children’s Hospital and all of them had “countless injuries” on their bodies, including bruises and scars, the charges say. At the time, the children didn’t disclose any abuse but instead explained away the marks on their bodies.
Over the course of the past year, while Connor apparently had supervised visits with the children, CPS has received eight more complaints about her, including that she tested positive for fentanyl while pregnant with her newborn son and that after his birth, mother and child both tested positive for cocaine and opiates, the charges say. The other complaints are in connection to disclosures the three eldest children have made to their foster mother about past abuse.
In an interview with police, the foster mother said when the children were first placed with her, they provided the same “scripted” explanation for how Connor’s 4-year-old son received a significant burn to his foot: They all said they’d been baking a cake when a hot pot fell on the boy’s foot. But as the children became more comfortable in their foster home, they revealed the cake story was a lie and that Connor would burn the children with a flat iron, say the charges.
The eldest boy, who is now 9, disclosed that he and his siblings were regularly beaten with belts, pots, pans, cords and other inanimate objects, and were often locked outside. Connor is accused of smearing her two eldest sons with peanut butter and locking them in a laundry room so the “rats could get them,” according to charging papers. The eldest boy also said they would sometimes be handcuffed so they couldn’t fight back and that their mother used a Taser on them.
The eldest boy said the Taser felt like he was “being punched a million times,” and described being burned with the flat iron as “feeling like he had touched lava,” the charges say. He recalled staying home from school for two weeks because he had a black eye from a candle his mother had thrown at him, disclosed that his mother made him wear long-sleeve shirts and applied makeup to cover his bruises, and that he was once forced to stand in a corner for an entire day without food or water.
Connor’s now 8-year-old daughter “completely shut down” when asked about abuse by her mother, and her now 4-year-old son talked about being hit with a belt and being burned with “a thing you do with your hair,” the charges say.
Police also learned doctors continue to provide narcotics to Connor’s newborn because of how severely he was addicted at birth. The charges say Connor was disappointed the baby was a boy and made comments about getting pregnant again in hopes of having another girl.
When Seattle police executed a search warrant on Connor’s home on March 20, she was naked and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Officers found a sawed-off shotgun in her bed, the charges say.