Duluth man pleads guilty to beating children with belts, cords
A Duluth man accused of using belts and extension cords to physically abuse five children so severely that some of the children have permanent scars on their backsides has admitted to the abuse.
Jason L. Wiggins, 28, pleaded guilty in St. Louis County District Court on Wednesday to two felony counts of malicious punishment of a child resulting in substantial bodily harm. Wiggins had been scheduled to stand trial June 1.
Judge Dale Harris ordered that an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer investigate Wiggins' background before sentencing May 21.
Wiggins was accused of abusing a 13-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy.
According to the criminal complaint, the teenage girl reported to her school principal and a Duluth police officer that she was afraid to go home because she would be beaten with a belt or extension chord. She said she was beaten about 10 times a month. The officer witnessed several injuries on the girl that appeared to be inflicted at different times.
The girl identified two other victims she said had been struck by Wiggins.
One child had multiple permanent scars on the back of his legs, the complaint stated. Another child had "unusual scars'' on the backs of her legs. A third child had multiple permanent scars on her legs. One victim claimed that Wiggins hit her on the hand with a medium-sized bat. Police executed a search warrant at Wiggins' residence and seized white extension cords and several belts.
Wiggins has a domestic battery conviction in Illinois from 2009.
The St. Louis County Attorney's Office said the children have been removed from the home and placed in foster care.