Two charged in abuse of children
A 24-year-old man was jailed on charges he struck a child; the 25-year-old mother of the abused children conditionally released in a case that came to light last weekendA Prineville man is learning that being big and tough isn't the only answer: the man is now in the county jail facing multiple charges of child abuse.
William Oliver Burke, 24, is six foot five inches tall and weighs nearly 250 pounds. The three-year-old boy he is accused of hitting is a lot smaller. Bourke is in jail on two counts of third degree assault for striking the three-year-old and three other counts of assault for striking the boy's siblings.
The abuse came to light last weekend when a female friend reported to authorities that the mother of the four children had offered to give her the four-year-old twins. Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said the mother had told her firend that the twins were "too much trouble."
The friend called police and reported she had noticed bruises on the twins.
Half a dozen members of the Prineville police Department and Crook County Sheriff's office, along with a state trooper and a member of the Children Services Division knocked on the home of Bourke and the children's mother, Jerusa Bellerby. At first Bellerby, 25, followed directions from Bourke and wouldn't respond in a positive manner. Soon though, at the insistence of the authorities, Brown said the mother invited two of the officers inside. Again Bourke, puffing his chest out, gruffly ordered the officers to leave.
The officers saw the three-year-old child and noticed the right side of his face was swollen. "Plus there were signs of earlier bruising," Brown said. Some of the marks looked to be discolored and possibly days old. The officers ordered Bourke to calm down.
Sgt. Jim Hensley of the sheriff's department got the woman aside and warned her that whether Bourke approved or not, the children were going to be taken to the hospital for an examination. Brown said that at first the mother claimed she had slapped the boy, but officers didn't believe her.
"They could actually see fingermarks on his face," Brown said. "And they could see the fingermarks were too big to be from her hand."
About that time Bourke reportedly decided to fight the officers. Puffing his chest out and, according to Hensley, growling, the suspect started acting in a threatening manner. After being reminded of the other officers outside, he calmed down and allowed himself to be handcuffed.
During his arraignment it was learned that Bourke had been arrested on an assault charge earlier this month following a fight at a downtown bar. Charged with abusing the children, Bourke was lodged on $125,000 security bond.
Bellerby was also arraigned on charges of hindering prosecution and endangering the welfare of minors. She was booked and released. The four children were taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital for a medical examination. Brown said it was discovered that the three-year-old doesn't speak. "He appears to be suffering from damage of some kind," Brown said. "We don't know whether it is physical or emotional."
The children were placed in the custody of the state and are safely in a foster home.
Hearings for the two to appear in circuit court have been set for later this month.