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'Disturbing' investigation into child, animal abuse leads to more than 100 charges

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Two men and one woman are facing more than 100 charges in connection with the yearslong abuse of several children and pets in southeast Edmonton.

The Edmonton Police Service's Child Protection unit began its investigation on Dec. 1 after reports of "significant child abuse" against seven children between the ages of two and 13, police said in a release on Wednesday.

The children were removed from the home that day and the Zebra Child and Youth Advocacy Centre interviewed them three days later.

"We do see many different cases and different types of cases, but as far as a physical abuse case, this is definitely one of the most severe ones we've had come through," said Stephanie Franks of the Zebra Centre. 

"It was reported to police that the children were frequently beaten, strangled and malnourished for years. It is alleged that the accused father regularly subjected the children to punishments whereby they were forced to hold a painful physical position with their hands and feet on the floor for several hours," EPS wrote in the release.

"The accused father also used a shock collar to assault some of the children. The father also reportedly beat one of the family's five dogs frequently with a broom handle and tortured it by poking it with a stick through the kennel cage."

The 34-year-old father, his 37-year-old common law partner and a 25-year-old family member were arrested on Dec. 14. Police said the woman is not the biological mother of any of the children. 

The father and his partner each face 45 charges of aggravated assault, uttering threats, unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and animal cruelty. The 25-year-old man is facing 14 charges of assault with a weapon and assault.

Their names are not being released to protect the identity of the children.

The children are in foster care and the dogs were removed from the home.

"Without question, this is one of the most disturbing cases of child abuse that our Child Protection investigators have ever seen," Staff Sgt. Ryan Tebb said.

"These children have been subjected to years of physical and emotional pain, dysfunction that no child should have to deal with in their lives."

Franks said children and youth sometimes don't have a trusted adult to confide in when they need help, so it's important for people to contact police if they believe a child or youth is being abused.

"I think people get afraid maybe to report it just in case something's not happening," she said. "We always like to say, 'If you feel like something is off, report it.'

"It's better to report and nothing comes out of it because kiddos are safe and they're well taken care, instead of not reporting and it goes on for years and years."