A Cowpens man repeatedly abused his girlfriend’s three young children and even struck one of them with a fly swatter and called one of them a “slut,” deputies said.
Cornelieus Burke, 49, is charged with cruelty to children after deputies said he abused the children, who are between 7- and 12-years-old, over the course of at least several weeks, maybe even longer.
“If somebody did that to one of my family members, I’d flip out,” said neighbor Marcus Cruz. “It’s crazy that they live right up the street and I never even heard anything about it.”
In this case, deputies said one of the children told a school guidance counselor that she and her siblings were being abused. The guidance counselor then alerted authorities, who investigated and ultimately arrested Burke.
Children’s advocates said abused children typically report abuse to school employees, especially teachers, who are trained to spot – and legally required to report – abuse. Experts said, however, that child abuse spikes during the summer months when children are out of school.
“More than 90 percent of the children we see were abused not by a stranger, but by somebody they know,” said Suzy Cole, the executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Spartanburg. “It’s usually someone they know; someone they love, and, so, it is difficult for children to report that abuse in the home setting.”
Burke was released from the Spartanburg County Detention Center early Wednesday morning. The three children are now in DSS protective custody.