A St. Louis woman's brutal mistreatment of her three children went far beyond the legal definition of child abuse to become systematic torture, prosecutors say. Lakechia Schonta Stanley, 34, has been sentenced to 78 years in prison for the abuse, which included whippings with electrical cords, beatings with blunt objects, and even waterboarding, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Stanley was arrested three years ago when one daughter, then 10, told a librarian she had pain in her arm. She revealed that she had been beaten with a baseball bat for not cleaning the kitchen quickly enough and her 8-year-old sister had been beaten for taking too long in the shower.
Stanley's husband, 30-year-old Andrew Rui Stanley, was sentenced to 160 years in prison last year after pleading guilty to 42 felony counts relating to the abuse. Prosecutors say all three children in the home had severe physical—and emotional—scarring. Stanley "was supposed to be their mother, the one person they could trust," a prosecutor wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "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 child abuse stories.)