A husband and wife in Utah are accused of a form of child abuse so cruel it is widely considered a violation of the Geneva Convention. Police say the Provo couple allegedly waterboarded a 9-year-old girl on at least three occasions, KUTV reports. The girl's father, 29-year-old Joseph Mitchell, and her stepmother, 28-year-old Ilaria Mitchell, have been arrested and charged with one count each of child abuse. A police affidavit states that the girl told police the couple would "would take her to the bathroom and tie her hands behind her back. They would then hold her down in the bathtub and place a towel over her face and pour water on it."
"The 9-year-old stated that she cannot breathe and it hurts when this happens," the affidavit states. The Mitchells were investigated after the state Division of Child and Family Services notified police about possible abuse earlier this month, the Deseret News reports. Nurses raised concerns after the girl's father checked her in to a hospital last month. Police said the girl also told them about other forms of abuse, including being punched in the face by Ilaria Mitchell, and had marks on her wrists "that would be consistent with her hands being tied up." The girl's mother, Brittany Calabrese, lives in Texas. She tells Fox 13 that she hasn't seen her daughter since 2014 and it is "heartbreaking" to hear about the abuse. (Police say this father in California waterboarded his 10 children.)