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Disabled child hurt when stepfather rips duct tape from his mouth

Published August 20, 2009 7:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sheriff's deputies arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of child abuse Wednesday after he allegedly duct-taped his handicapped stepson's mouth shut.

Steven E. Kimball, of Riverton, ripped off several layers of skin when he removed the tape covering the 12-year-old's mouth and neck, said Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson.

"Half of his face is ripped off and skin is missing from one cheek," Hutson said, describing the injuries.

The boy, who can only move his head and arms, suffered swelling, cuts and abrasions.

Kimball told police he "wanted it to hurt" when he pulled the tape off, the booking statement said. He then used a rag to "briskly" remove some of the tape residue.

The boy suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy and autism, and learns at a first-grade level, according to a Salt Lake County jail booking statement.

Kimball taped the boy's mouth shut because he and the boy's mother were upset at things he was saying, Hutson said. The boy's biological father discovered the injuries when he picked him up from a visit with his mother and stepfather.

The biological parents have joint custody of the boy. The injuries did not require hospitalization but were severe enough to arrest Kimball on suspicion of child abuse and neglect, Hutson said. There were no other injuries.

The investigation is ongoing, and the boy's mother could also be arrested. There are other children in the home, Hutson said. Kimball and the mother told police they put the tape on the boy because "he would not stop chattering," according to the statement.

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